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Photo by Matt D’Annunzio

Audrey Augenbraum ’14

international and comparative policy studies

Hometown: New York City

How Reed changed me: As a history major I learned not to make judgments about what happened in the past. Instead you ask, “Why did that happen when it did?” It’s a Zen way to look backward. Things happen because of the context of a particular time period.

What I would tell prospies: Reed attracts adventurous people. It’s invigorating to be here. Take advantage of all the work that surrounds you. Experience the things your peers make, play with, and write about. This is some of the best stuff going on anywhere, and if you’re doing it right, you’re always wrestling with huge ideas, theories, and questions that have no answers.

Influential music: Somebody played Debussy’s La Mer at a master class a few years ago, and I fell in love with it.

Favorite spot: There are two benches in the canyon. One by the orchard overlooks this cool little ravine, and the other, adjacent to the amphitheatre, looks out over the blue bridge.

Random thoughts: As a prospie, I sat in on four Reed classes and realized, “What goes on in the classroom here is clearly very different from what goes on in the classroom elsewhere.” At Reed—within reason—the students lead the discussion, talk about the material, and learn to form opinions about it.

Cool stuff I did: I studied abroad in Spain and it made me realize how unique Reed is. You forget that outside, everybody isn’t this interesting and motivated. I also sang with a country band called Thousand Dollar Bill.

Scholarships, awards, or financial aid: I won a McGill Lawrence Internship Award to work for a public health organization in Katmandu, and a Reed grant to do research for my thesis at the International Maritime Organization in London.

Favorite class and why: In Music Theory III, Prof. David Schiff [music 1980–] divided the evolution of harmony up into jazz, the style of Debussy, Ravel, and the French impressionists, and on from there. We analyzed why favorite harmonic moments sounded so cool, and composed short pieces based upon the revelations.

Adviser: Prof. Douglas Fix [history 1990–]

Thesis: “Strait to Hell, Boys: Obstacles to Cooperation in Combating Maritime Piracy in Indonesian Waters, 1945–2009”

What it’s about: Statistically Indonesia has had the world’s most pirate-prone waters, but refused to engage in cooperative policies with other countries that border the Malacca Strait, where half the supply of the world’s energy passes. Many of these pirates distribute their booty to coastal villages to help build things like mosques and footbridges. Piracy is a challenge to globalization in the area, which has been happening since the 5th century, depending on how you look at it.

What it’s really about: A lot of pirates are probably naval officers.

What’s next: Making use of my history major by compiling oral histories for a center called INCITE at Columbia University.