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Honors Student Encourages Sustainable Change in Coffee Farming

As a daughter of humanitarians who grew up in several third-world countries, junior Naivasha Dean witnessed firsthand her parents’ work in working for just causes. Now that she is an adult, Dean is choosing to continue the family tradition.

For 15 days this summer, Dean, an Honors Summer Research Fellowship recipient, will travel to the province of Fianarantsoa, in southern Madagascar, which is off the east coast of Africa, to produce a documentary.. The film will investigate the activities of Corridor Coffee and Spices, a private specialty coffee company. CCS uses groundbreaking agricultural methods such as shade-grown coffee-farming which helps to reduce pressure on the environment and represents a viable alternative to destructive practices such as slash-and-burn farming.

“Slash-and-burn practices cause great environmental damage and a loss of species in the area,” Dean said. “I hope my film reveals economically sustainable farming methods that don’t destroy the habitat.”

Dean also will examine the relationship between CCS and TAPFIRE, a nonprofit organization, works through public-private alliances with companies like CCS. Dean wants to explore those alliances because critics have labeled them both controversial and helpful.

Each year, the LMU Honors Program offers several fellowships for summer projects conducted around the world. Fellows are awarded $5,000 to support research, travel, internships, writing or tuition.

“Being a recipient of these types of awards makes it easier for me to afford college and to not put a big strain on my parents,” Dean said. “It also allows me the time to focus on developing the tools I will use to achieve my goals in the future.”