Kathleen Weary

kathleen weary profile cropped

Community Bursary Award Holder

Joining us from: Québec, Canada

MSc Global Governance and Diplomacy (2022)

I grew up in Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada. I studied Global and International Studies at Carleton University before coming to Oxford. I worked in local politics and climate activism, serving as the Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Ottawa and as Carleton Student Union President.  

I previously interned at Canada’s Mission to United Nations where I helped with Canada’s campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council, and with Canada’s role as Chair of the UN Peacekeeping committee.   

I have been a long-time leader in ocean conservation, volunteering 400+ hours as an Ocean Bridge Ambassador, where I worked with a community-based charity as Content Creation Team Lead. As Content Creation Team Lead, I recognized a lack of direct engagement with youth, so I built a team of social media creators and water pollution experts. We coordinated the daily output of attention-grabbing TikToks, reels, and blog posts, as well as virtual field trips for elementary schools. We worked closely with student researchers at Carleton to analyse what kinds of trash were in local waterways and find solutions. I led fundraising initiatives for trash-trapping devices and raised over $3000 in six months for five new “seabins” in Eastern Canada.  

I chose the MSc in Global Governance and Diplomacy because I wish to tackle climate change. I want to understand global solutions for a global problem. Specifically, I would like to negotiate climate agreements between countries. My research is on Loss & Damage financing and how climate-vulnerable countries can negotiate concessions and financing from rich countries for irreversible losses and damages due to climate change (sea-level rise, desertification, loss of land, livelihoods and culture, etc.). 

I have been a climate advocate for over a decade. I served as president of the board of a local environmental NGO in high school, where I volunteered weekly to pick up trash and plant trees. During my undergrad, I started a climate movement and organized climate strikes and sustainability events attracting thousands of students. I worked with student leaders across Canada to build climate movements and achieve fossil fuel divestment. I continued working on climate justice as student union president as well.  

My presidency began in early 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, which required adapting our services and programs online to support students through this time of stress and upheaval. My team and I launched a hardship fund which redirected $79,600 of our budget directly to students in need within days of their request for help. Despite the pandemic, we ultimately completed 82 projects and achieved 94% of our campaign promises while in office.  

Our team created and coordinated six advocacy campaigns, including the launch of Indigenous Celebration Month and anti-racial-violence campaigns and training for our staff. My passion for environmental justice led me to create student jobs to support the student union’s sustainability and social justice projects, such as the student union’s Climate Action Fund and Sustainability Handbook.  

I chose St Cross College as it is one of the most international and is home to students studying a broad range of topics

As president, I learned about the challenges and privileges of politics and decided to enter local politics, working in the Mayor’s Office in Ottawa. I hope to return to politics after Oxford to fight for climate action at local and international levels. 

I studied classical violin and piano for 13 years and play the fiddle as well. I like to play for community groups, seniors’ residents and churches on special occasions, such as St Patrick’s Day and Easter, usually duetting with my brother.  

At Oxford, I have enjoyed running with the Cross-Country Club and playing with the Oxford Volleyball Club. I have also been active in the Oxford Diplomatic Society and Oxford Union Debating. My goal is to become a more confident and convincing public speaker to be an effective advocate for sustainable policies. I competed in the Oxford Union’s Beginner Debate Competition, coming secpnd.  

I am deeply curious about philosophy and theology and have enjoyed exploring different religious groups at Oxford including Scriptorium at Pusey House and the Rhodes Christian Fellowship which I attend regularly.  

I have also been able to join in an optional course in “Doughnut Economics” at Oxford’s Doughnut Economics Action Lab. Through this course, I have learned about new economic models based on social welfare and planetary boundaries. I hope to take these cutting-edge ideas into my future work on climate policy.  

My goal for the future is to negotiate agreements between countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I am hoping to present my research on Loss & Damage at the upcoming Oxford Climate Society’s Conference. In the short term, I plan to return to Canada to work in policy, government or politics to improve Canada’s climate targets, including phasing out fossil fuels and protecting greater amounts of land, ocean, and fresh water.  

Then, I hope to become a diplomat and negotiate international climate agreements to ensure Canada is a global leader in climate targets and ambitions, while supporting countries that are especially climate vulnerable adapt.  

I chose Oxford University for the opportunity to learn from diverse perspectives and classmates from around the world. Similarly, I chose St Cross College as it is one of the most international and is home to students studying a broad range of topics. This has allowed me to learn from peers in different programs including literature, linguistics and engineering, to see how they understand global problems like climate change.  

For example, I am working with a friend from St Cross to organize an event for the Oxford Diplomatic Society on “Twitter and Diplomacy,” a skill that is hard to learn but increasingly important.  

I actively participate in St Cross social events, enjoying the richness of our community.  

The St. Cross Community Bursary Award has been extremely empowering, allowing me to enjoy and participate in numerous activities. I have used it to pay for membership fees for the Volleyball and Cross-Country Club, as well as for the Oxford Union. It has also allowed me to develop new skills and explore my research interests at Oxford in order to gain tools for my future career without financial stress.

I am extremely grateful.