Student Demetrio Iannone Publishes Essay on Populism and Climate Change

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Demetrio Iannone is a double major in International Affairs and History. He is from Crotone, in the Italian region of Calabria, but he spent most of his high-school years in the Netherlands, at the United World Colleges Maastricht. His essay called “Populism as a check for democracy but not for climate” has recently been published on the Kathimerini English Edition, one of The New York Times’ partner newspapers.

From left: Demetrio Iannone, activist Ory Okolloh, and two students at the ADF.

From left: Demetrio Iannone, activist Ory Okolloh, and two students at the Athens Democracy Forum.

What made you decide to double major in International Affairs and History?
I am double majoring in International Affairs and History because I want to combine the two fields that I love the most and that will help me in my future academic career. I am a firm believer that without a critical understanding of the past, we cannot make sense of the difficulties of the present.

Name one class or one professor at JCU that made an impact on you and explain why.
I cannot be more grateful to Professor Bridget Welsh for her guidance and help, which went well beyond class. During my first semester of freshman year, Professor Welsh was a moral and academic support for me. Professor Vanda Wilcox allowed me to be her history research assistant and Professor Luca De Caprariis keeps inspiring me with his endless knowledge and passion for the modern historical discipline.

You did a semester abroad at the New School for Social Research in New York. What was a challenge that you encountered and how did you overcome it?
Time management. New York City is a vibrant city and everything that’s happening around you can lead to distractions. However, I went there with a mission: to build a network that would help me in my future graduate school goals while still enjoying the city that never sleeps. With guidance from my family and support from Professor Federico Finchelstein from the New School, I managed to remain on track.

You participated in the 2019 Athens Democracy Forum. How did this experience enrich you?
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will forever be grateful for. The forum was composed of 20 other students, and each brought his unique voice to the discussion. We also managed to draft a Youth Manifesto that aimed at advancing youth-focused suggestions regarding the UN Sustainable Development Goals to Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Envoy on Youth.

Congratulations on your ‘Populism as a check for democracy but not for climate’ essay being published on the daily newspaper Kathimerini English Edition. Could you briefly tell us about it?
After the forum, I further understood that populism can actually be an indication that democracies turned too elitist, and that it is often characterized by climate skepticism. Without the engaging discussions of the 2019 ADF, I would have not gained the in-depth understanding of the issues needed to produce the piece and I would have not met the New York Times editors that selected it to be published on their partner newspaper the Kathimerini English Edition. Being my first publication, this article will always be dear to me.

What’s your career goal?
I hope to enter a Ph.D. program that will allow me to embark in the historical research field and to pursuit my passion. I also want to keep myself engaged in the international relations discourse and, especially, international law, so to study the patterns of the past, along with its errors, with the hope to help change today’s world for the better.

What advice would you give to a student who is considering JCU?
Choose JCU because it has an extremely diverse environment that will allow you to become a critical thinker. Once in JCU, keep working hard, and surround yourself with positive people that will help you in the process. I just feel happy and blessed with the opportunities I am given. I do not take them for granted. In fact, I acknowledge that with every opportunity comes a responsibility to make the best out of it.