The G8 Research Group is a research group with the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Its mission is to serve as a leading independent source of information, analysis, and research on the institutions, issues and members of the G8 Summit. I first started as a research analyst within the Civil Society Department in the beginning of my second year of university; and now, I alongside one of my colleagues, serve as the lead analysts for the department. We explore the role civil society actors’ play in creating the commitments the G8 enacts on a yearly basis. We research their policy recommendations and gage their reactions to past and future commitments. It is extremely interesting as you get to interact with civil society actors representing a diverse set of causes: poverty eradiation, environmental preservation, child and human rights, developmental non-governmental organizations etc. Through our publications, we are able to hear first-hand from those at the front lines, as well as have access to those with the ability to make the necessary policy changes to accommodate these groups.
The greatest challenge our group and I consistently encounter is the access to information on a timely manner. The G8 Summit occurs over a few days once a year, and civil society groups and government institutions release information tailored to the summit right before the summits begin and when they conclude. This leaves us with the task of diligently combing through information throughout the year seeking and analysing issues that we believe will be of significance at the summit. We are able to do this effectively with the help of a number of highly intelligent student researchers, supporting academic faculty members, and our contacts in the field. This work has allowed me to interact with representatives from organizations from around the globe, learn in-depth about the global problems we face, and the policy recommendations that we can propose to make it better.
-by Mahdi Hussein, 2011-12 Killam Student