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April 23, 2024

OECD Deputy Head shows students global database

By ELI WALLACH | September 19, 2013

On Wednesday, Kathleen DeBoer traveled from her office at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Washington Center to give a tutorial on how to navigate the OECD iLibrary in the Computer Room on M-Level of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.

DeBoer is the Deputy Head of and Sales/Marketing Manager for the OECD’s Washington Center, and her role includes the oversight of the dissemination of intellectual property, as well as managing subscription sales around the country.

The OECD is a multilateral organization with 34 member countries. The OECD’s headquarters are in Paris; however, it operates offices in Washington, DC, Mexico City, Berlin and Tokyo. It is dedicated to organizing and analyzing data to solve global problems and propose policy solutions.

“We are focusing on what countries can do to raise the quality of life for their citizens, mainly through an economic standpoint,” DeBoer said.

The OECD iLibrary contains all of the statistics and publications that come out of the OECD, something that the general public does not have access to. Anyone with a Hopkins ID, however, can access the database through the Sheridan Libraries website.

“In terms of comparing countries — if that is what you are doing — this OECD iLibrary is the place for you,” DeBoer said.

While the OECD mainly gathers data on member countries, OECD data covers all parts of the world. Over the years, the OECD has become very closely tied to the G8 and G20. Recently, at the request of the G20, the OECD has taken an active role in tracking tax havens for multinational companies.

The OECD began in 1948 as the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC). Created to rebuild Europe after World War II, the OEEC was a byproduct of the Marshall Plan. In 1960, Canada and United States signed the new OECD Convention with the OEEC member countries. On Sept. 30, 1961, the OECD was officially born.

“Our mission is really to do analysis using data and to bring those good numbers to the policy debate,” DeBoer said. “And, hopefully, our countries will make good decisions based on data, not just on politics.”

DeBoer graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in economics and gained a Certificate of Publishing Procedures from the City University of New York. In her career, she has served as a publisher for over 25 years and a teacher in China for five years. Currently, in addition to her role at the OECD, DeBoer is also an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s College of Professional Studies. DeBoer speaks fluent Italian, Spanish, Chinese, French and English.

DeBoer’s presentation was coordinated by the OECD’s student ambassador, junior Davide Pini. The position of student ambassador was created by DeBoer to raise awareness of the OECD on college campuses.

“The main reason why I started the student ambassador program was that I felt that a lot of people under 50 hadn’t heard of the OECD, and I thought, that at the very least, a college student who’s studying the social sciences should know what the OECD is,” DeBoer said.

As student ambassador, Pini is responsible for promoting the OECD on campus. In the coming year, Pini hopes to work with organizations such as Hopkins Model United Nations Conference and Foreign Affairs Symposium in coordinating events.

“I was interested in the OECD because they provide policy makers with economic analysis which has a real impact on the decisions taken by the member countries,” Pini said. “I found it fascinating how theoretical economic knowledge can be turned into useful tools for the decision makers of the wealthiest countries in the world. Being involved in the organization’s effort it’s a pleasure and something I wanted to accomplish in my time here at Hopkins.”

The OECD’s role in the world is much greater than just analyzing numbers, according to DeBoer.

“In principle, any democracy needs to have good statistics, otherwise, citizens cannot be informed or participate,” DeBoer said.

The OECD also plays an active role in figuring out strategies for economic development.

“We look at what is it that allowed Europe to develop after WWII and what can the less developed nations learn from it?” DeBoer said. “We know that investment in education and healthcare correlate with economic growth, also openness and free trade correlate as well.”

Sophomore Mary Egan only had positive things to say about the presentation.

“I thought the presentation was really interesting and applicable. I always knew that OECD existed and was very progressive in the international field, but I wasn’t aware that their resources were available to us as college students,” Egan said. “When I think about research papers that I’ve written, I’m realizing that the graph and statistics on the OECD iLibrary would have been enormously helpful.”

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