The University of Georgia
Cobb, Ben

UGA's Amazing Students

Ben Cobb

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April 23, 2007

Ben Cobb’s penchant for travel started before he even came to UGA. After he graduated from high school, he headed out west for the ski season while his friends departed for college. His adventures led him to Washington, Wyoming, Argentina and Costa Rica. His most unique experience until then was climbing Cerro Aconcagua in the Central Andes of Argentina when he was 18 years old. Then he came to UGA and was awarded a Mid-Term Foundation Fellowship. Since then, he has worked for the Namibian Ministry of Education, surveyed European urban development, and studied Zen Buddhism at monasteries in South Korea. He has studied international issues at UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security and made a presentation on stage in front of President Jimmy Carter. When he graduates, he plans to continue his travels and eventually pursue a graduate degree at a European university.

University highlights, achievements and awards:

Last spring I was awarded the Mid-Term Foundation Fellowship. Since then, the scholarship has provided me with invaluable opportunities to investigate the complex, interdisciplinary nature of the world we inhabit. In the past twelve months, I have interned for the Namibian Ministry of Education, surveyed European urban development, and studied Zen Buddhism at monasteries in South Korea. On campus, I have enjoyed the opportunity to intern for the Center for International Trade and Security, where I have studied a range of issues from nuclear non-proliferation to U.S.-India bilateral relations. Within the campus community, I have been active in reforming university energy policies as a member of the Energy Conservation Executive Committee. I am also a member of the UGA Model United Nations team and an Honors Program Teaching Assistant. I am currently formalizing operational agreements in preparation for starting a non-profit, educational development venture in Namibia this summer.

Hometown:

Huntsville, Alabama

High School:

Virgil I. Grissom High School

I chose to attend UGA because...

…of its beauty. The first time I visited campus was a windy, spring semester Saturday afternoon. It seemed as though the buildings were vacant and everyone on campus was enjoying the incredible weather: sleeping on Myers Quad, tossing frisbees on Herty Field, and reading on North Campus, all against the ambient background of the Chapel bell ringing across campus. Little did I know at the time, but this experience embodied so much that this university has to offer. From accessible faculty members to a vibrant music/social scene, UGA combines the amenities of a large university with a small, liberal-arts honors program.

My favorite things to do on campus are...

…reading and lounging on North Campus. The Founder’s Garden is incredibly ornate and my favorite place to relax because of its serenity. If I’m not there, I’m probably sleeping on Herty Field or tossing a frisbee in front of the library.

The craziest thing I've done is...

…take a flight in a micro-light over Victoria Falls. Last summer I spent five days in Livingstone, Zambia trying to convince myself that this was a good idea. A micro-light is basically a go-kart attached to a hang glider, and I was definitely a little reluctant to fly 800 feet above the world’s largest waterfall without the support of a fixed wing. My worries proved unwarranted, and the sight of elephants and hippos playing in the Zambezi River upstream from the falls was a truly unforgettable experience.

My favorite place to study is...

…at the State Botanical Gardens. I usually relax on this rock that overlooks a bend in the Oconee River. The sound of running water is calming, while in the fall, the gates are open late enough to watch the sunset. It’s also a great place to exercise if you enjoy trail-running.

My favorite professor is...

...Gary Bertsch. The opportunities that he has provided have greatly enriched my academic experience and intellectual growth. As an intern for The Center for International Trade and Security, I was given access to a small, interactive learning community. Beyond personal instruction, Prof. Bertsch’s professional accomplishments demonstrate the responsibilities of a professor who is an active contributor to SPIA, UGA, his field, and most importantly, to his students.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...

…my parents. Since graduating high school, my travels have carried me to distant places, but unfortunately I am not able to make it home as often as I would like. Most of the opportunities that I have today are undeserved, and I wish that I could share these experiences more frequently with the two people most responsible for the opportunities that will shape my future.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...

…work to redefine the concepts of economic development and societal progress. I’m concerned that the prevailing public epistemology forsakes ‘the long run’ in favor of optimal short-term returns, where ‘the long run’ viability and sustainability of the earth’s finite natural resources are never critically analyzed, or if they are, only within the prevailing scopes for measurement.

After graduation, I plan to...

…work/travel for two years in Southern Africa, the Middle East, and South East Asia. I plan to continue my work in the non-profit sector while broadening my understanding of other languages, cultures, and societies. Once prepared to return to academia, I hope to further my graduate work at a European institution, focusing on sustainable development, urban planning and international economic development.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be...

…sitting on stage next to President Carter before a live television audience at the Carter Conference. As the student panelist representing the energy policy group, I approached this honor with utmost respect for President Carter, whose progressive energy policies and rhetoric regarding ‘sacrifice’ serve as a unique marker in political history. The bright stage lights and uneasy nerves ingrained an eternally vivid image of the experience in my mind.