International Studies & Programs

2023 International Awards: Maria Claudia Lopez Perez

Charles A. Gliozzo International Award for Public Diplomacy

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Published: Monday, 20 Mar 2023 Author: Veronica Gracia-Wing

Headshot of Maria Claudia Lopez Perez
Maria Claudia Lopez

Maria Claudia Lopez is the 2023 recipient of the Charles A. Gliozzo International Award for Public Diplomacy, which recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to public diplomacy through educating, training or promoting knowledge and understanding between MSU faculty and staff, community members and international students, scholars and visitors. 

Lopez is an associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She works to advance international studies through research, mentoring and teaching. When she left her home country Colombia to join MSU, Lopez made a commitment to have a positive impact by providing international students the opportunity to study at MSU; conducting top notch research that could improve the lives of many; and by bringing an international perspective to all her courses and interactions with students. 

Lopez is devoted to ensuring her students become critical thinkers in their role as practitioners working in international development. To date, she has recruited to MSU 12 international students representing a variety of countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Mexico, Tanzania, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. Last year she was awarded the MSU Outstanding Mentor Award after being nominated by her students.

Her research in the past five years has shown the negative impacts that hydroelectric dams have created for local communities and their environment, and that instruments that are supposed to alleviate these injustices—such as compensations and resettlement—are poorly designed and insufficient in restoring livelihoods. Her research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Nature Sustainability and Global Environmental Change. Lopez holds a Ph.D. in resource economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a master’s degree in rural development from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia.

“As Global Spartans, we have the privilege to think about solutions to problems occurring worldwide and to mentor citizens to have a global understanding and
address global problems.”- Maria Claudia Lopez

Lopez was nominated by Rebecca Jordan, chairperson and professor in the Department of Community Sustainability. “Dr. Lopez is an outstanding mentor and an innovative researcher who is looking for solutions to issues and challenges that communities around the globe are facing. She has guided her numerous graduate students to become independent, creative, and ethical professionals who are prepared to work in settings across the world,” said Jordan.

Read more about Lopez’s work: