Libby Gerstner, the closing keynote speaker at the college’s Global Awareness Conference, will present “Living Off the Grid in 2020: The Uncontacted Tribes of India and Brazil” at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7. 

The virtual conference, Nov. 6 and 7, will focus on Native and First Nations worldwide, introducing students, faculty and staff as well as attendees from outside of the campus community to different aspects of cultures from around the globe. 

Joseph Stabb, the faculty director for Hart Hall and conference coordinator, contacted Gerstner to provide some background on the tribes as she completed a research paper on the topic.

A 2020 graduate of Tulane University Law School, Gerstner was a managing editor of the Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law. The experience included researching and publishing a 25-page paper, which became “The Right to be Left Alone? Protecting "Uncontacted" Tribes of India and Brazil.”

“I stumbled across an article and I got interested in it and that’s kind of how the research came about,” Gerstner said. “It was just interesting because I didn’t know anything about uncontacted people. I just assumed because we’re in such an interconnected society that I had no idea that there were still people living off the grid.”

The presentation will introduce the tribes’ background to get attendees situated. 

“It seems broad but it’s not, because there’s really only so much that we know about them just because they are uncontacted,” Gerstner said.

Gerstner's research ponders whether society should approach uncontacted tribes or if it is better to let them be.

“Right now, especially in a global pandemic, I think contact could potentially be very bad because in the past when people have contacted uncontacted tribes a simple cold can do terrible things to their bodies because they don’t have the same antibodies that we do simply because they’re not around as many people,” she said.

Gerstner expects those who tune into her presentation to have similar takeaways as she did when she completed her research paper.

For more information about the conference, and links to the sessions as the event approaches, visit

-- Written by Tomas Rodriguez, Class of 2021