Meet the Interns: Brandon Smith

When I applied for the equity development internship, I really did not have anything in mind besides the general sense that I wanted to work towards making the world a better place. As a history major, I have developed a strong interest in labor movements of the past; their shortcomings, successes, and connections to the present. However, my fervor had been mostly confined to essays for an audience of one. I wanted to use the research and thesis argument skills I have gained in a practical manner that could yield tangible results. This is where LEAP comes in.

My project this semester is to make a compelling argument and plan of execution for prospective worker cooperatives. I believe that worker cooperatives are an effective way to stifle the growing disparities between social classes. In addition to the economic benefits of more equitable wages, the democratic nature of cooperatives will help improve the way people see themselves and each other. I am only a couple weeks into my project but what I have gathered so far is that cooperatives have issues getting off the ground and maintaining momentum once established. I hope to uncover the causes and solutions for both of these issues.

Outside of academia, I am a self taught musician and audio engineer. In fact, this is where I have dedicated most of my time, energy, and ambition. The events of 2020 made me reevaluate my priorities. The pandemic halted live music and many venues are yet to recover as I write this now. On top of that, there were too many glaring social issues that I could no longer passively observe while hoping for change. This is not to say that I have abandoned music entirely, but I have discovered that I do not have to be so one-dimensional in what I focus on. The world needs good people everywhere and there will never be a more ideal time to get involved than the present.