Alexios Monopolis in Oxford Competition

Phd Student Takes Second Place in Prestigious Oxford Competition
Prior to becoming a Bren School PhD student, Alexios Nicolaos Monopolis worked as a photographer and for the International Division of National Geographic. He brought those skills to bear in the essay that earned second prize and an evaluation from thejudges as “highly commended” in Oxford University’s third annual Oxford Leadership Prize.

Monopolis’s work, titled “Leadership, Sustainability and the 3rd Generation of Environmental Photography,” addressed the question "How will the successful leaders of tomorrow address the challenge of sustainability?" by calling for a profound paradigm shift in the anthropocentric philosophical, political, and socio-economic worldviews that he suggests are at the root of the current global environmental crisis. In the ten-page essay, Monopolis incorporates archival political and environmental photography, using it as a tool to examine the issues he raises while simultaneously analyzing the past and potential future roles of photography in promoting environmental awareness and behavioral change and leading society toward a sustainable future.

“From the now familiar images of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, deforestation in the Amazon rain forest, or the clubbing of baby seals in Canada, to the visual documentation of nature, indigenous and exotic cultures, and adventure and exploration,” he writes, “images increasingly structure our experience of nature, environmental problems and ecological awareness.”

The essay integrates ideas from Monopolis’s doctoral studies, in which he is examining relationships between unconstrained economic growth and corresponding increases in stress, anxiety, and depression while attempting to demonstrate that “downshifting” – reducing and localizing the consumption of resources on both an individual level and a social level – will not only benefit the environment but also improve individual mental health and social cohesion.

Monopolis earned a master’s degree in Biodiversity Conservation and Management at Oxford in 2005, making him eligible for the competition, which was open to Oxford staff, faculty, and students who were under 30 years old as of October 2007. To see Monopolis’s entry, go to the Oxford Leadership Prize site and click on “Finalists.”