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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Manila, Phillipines: Dr. Ramaswami, Denny Chair, Center for STEP and Staff Researchers Present at ASEAN 3rd Annual Mayors Forum

Professor Anu Ramaswami, alongside staff research associates Sam Tabory and Ashly (Spevacek) McFarlane, of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy presented at a technical workshop in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) 3rd Annual Mayors Forum in the Philippines, July 24-27. Professor Ramaswami also addressed the larger Forum audience as an invited plenary speaker.  


The technical workshop was co-hosted by UNEP, United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific, and the League of Cities Philippines. Participants included elected officials, technical staff, and representatives of regional local government associations.

At the workshop, the research team presented strategies for resource-efficient urbanization and the development of compact, livable cities in Southeast Asia. The team also conducted interviews with mayors and urban development experts from Southeast Asian cities to better understand differences in local sustainability decision-making across the region.

Workshop participants engaged with critical regional urbanization dynamics including the projected growth of small and medium size cities in Southeast Asia. While mega-cities like Jakarta and Manila often monopolize the attention of sustainable development observers, much of the urban population growth that is projected to occur in Southeast Asia between now and 2050 will be in cities with fewer than 500,000 residents.

A key barrier to resource efficient urbanization both in Southeast Asia, and elsewhere, is a lack of coordinated planning across policy areas as well as different levels of government. Workshop participants identified the need to better link policy-making and planning processes across key sectors like economic development, housing, and transportation. Similarly, participants discussed the need for more collaboration and resource sharing both vertically and horizontally across government agencies at national, regional, and local levels.

ASEAN city officials at the Mayors Forum highlighted many examples of ongoing resource-efficient urbanization efforts across the transportation sector, building design, and renewable energy production. However, the workshop highlighted the challenges of best practice sharing across government agencies and local ASEAN governments. National and international resources for city officials, technical staff and other key personnel are available, however, the information is not always distributed effectively to the local level.

Energy, water-use, demographic, lifestyle and other key metrics that can inform city officials about where they are succeeding and where they might need to improve with respect to resource-efficient urbanization are not collected in most ASEAN cities. The benefits associated with collecting these metrics is not always apparent to  city officials, and data collection efforts of this type often require resource investments of both money and staff time, both of which are often constrained in many city governments. The is result is that data collection is often not prioritized by local administrations


The workshop was part of a process to prepare a report written in conjunction with UNEP on urban infrastructure transitions in Southeast Asia. Key findings from the workshop, including barriers to resource-efficient urban development and strategies to address these barriers, will be incorporated in the final report. The report is scheduled for release in late 2017. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Climate Change in the Age of Alternative Facts (Public Forum 6.26.17)


The Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy co-hosted a public forum on June 26 in Cowles Auditorium, along with the U of M Institute on the Environment (IonE) and Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy. The forum, moderated by STEP Senior Fellow and former MN State legislator Steve Kelley,  featured IonE Director Dr. Jessica Hellmann and Dr. Ben Santer, a former IPCC author, discussed the resurgent threat to climate facts, and the ways that we can work to counter the rising tide of climate misinformation. 

Watch the forum recording below:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

STEP at APPAM Student Conference 2017

Matt Grimley, Ben Ihde, Isaac Evans

Matt Grimley (MS-STEP), Ben Ihde (MS-STEP), and Isaac Evans (MPP) represented the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the Association for Public Policy and Management (APPAM) conference in Riverside, CA from April 9th-10th. This conference brought together graduate researchers from many policy disciplines to share and receive feedback on their research from their peers. The team attended to present their research on community solar gardens in Minnesota.


At APPAM, the team, represented by Matt Grimley, presented their research on Minnesota’s community solar gardens. Community solar is a financing mechanism where subscribers to a solar array help to overcome the high up front capital costs of renewable energy. These solar arrays were designed to allow Xcel Energy customers without appropriate rooftop space or capital to enjoy the benefits of solar power. The program has rapidly expanded solar power capacity in Minnesota, but the Humphrey team is examining how the policy behind the program has influenced or restricted the flow of benefits to different classes of ratepayers.

Matt presented on the second day on a panel alongside two other graduate students. The first student was researching the costs and benefits of investments in charging stations versus battery technology, while the second focused on heat-wave vulnerability in India. Matt, Isaac, and Ben fielded questions from the audience, and returned from the conference with new perspectives on their research and how best to communicate it to a larger audience.


For Ben, the highlight of the conference itself was a session presented by the Pardee RAND Institute that discussed the policy of startup accelerators and autonomous cars, two of his personal interests. As a native Midwesterner, he also enjoyed hiking up Mount Rubidoux with Isaac, due to the warm weather, the incredible views, and the opportunities for bouldering.

Isaac really enjoyed attending the talks of other students and learning about the wide range of policy tools and perspectives other students are using that could be incorporated into the community solar garden project. Particularly, he found analyzing the use of crime rates and determinants using regression and spatial analysis the most interesting. Finally, anyone who knows Isaac would know that he especially loved trying all of the food Riverside had to offer.  


Matt enjoyed the pleasant climate and fresh food, almost as much as he enjoyed the policy discussions with his conference peers.

STEP at APPAM Student Conference 2017
Haley Bloomquist, Brianna Denk, Ally Hillstrom


Over the weekend of April 7th-8th, we attended the APPAM Student Conference held by George Mason University, Schar School of Policy and Government in Arlington, VA. APPAM, Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, is a non-profit organization committed to improving public policy and management by promoting excellence in research, analysis and education. At this conference, we gained valuable research presentation experience by presenting our research in panel format, allowing us to receive important feedback from academics, practitioners, and other students.


We started our day off by presenting our research as a part of the Clean Energy and Responsible Sourcing Practices panel. Dr. Eliane Catilina was chosen to be our discussant and chair of the panel. She is a regulatory economist and works for the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics at the U.S. EPA, and is a professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University. Unfortunately, Dr. Catilina was unable to make the conference, however Brianna, assumed the role of the discussant and successfully facilitated the program and discussion.


During the panel, we presented on The Political Economy of Carbon Offsets: A Comparative Analysis of Post-2020 Sustainable Development Mechanism Architectures. Two other Humphrey School of Public Affairs graduate students, Jill Rook and Ashfaqul H Chowdhury, presented on the Gains from Collaborative R&D: A Patent Analysis of U.S.-China Co-Invention. The third panel participant, Nicholas Mastron, from the George Washington University, presented on the Gusher and Roughneck Economies. After the presentations, Brianna facilitated the discussion between our panel participants and the audience. Several audience members asked questions about the presentation and offered insightful feedback. Afterwards, we were each able to talk one-on-one with audience members for further discussion.



One of our favorite parts of the conference was the opportunity to attend the session called Policy Career Paths WorkshopPresenters gave background information on how they began their public service careers and how they have achieved their current positions. The workshop session speakers included Kimberly Arnold, Johns Hopkins University; Katrina Hubbard Dunlap, George Mason University; David Johnson, University of Michigan; Roberto Amorosino, The World Bank; Tom Barnett, Fairfax County Government; and Peter Reuter, University of Maryland. Later in the conference, we were able to continue further discussion of policy career paths with the panelist Kimberly Arnold at one of the poster and networking events. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WRC Shared Water Shared Responsibility

University of Minnesota Water Resources Students In Action (WRSIAhosted a community discussion with key Minnesota policy makers last Thursday, March 23 at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Co-sponsored by the University's Humphrey School of Public Affairs' Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy and the University's Water Resources Center, the event  addressed challenges facing clean water and explore how Minnesotans from all walks of life can play a role in promoting sustainable practices.

Inspired by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s Year of Water Action, the event included a reception and poster session on water research, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with policy experts.


The panel discussion was live-streamed and recorded (click here to view).

Panel Discussion


Representatives from the Governor’s office and state agencies discussed topics related to April’s Year of Water Action theme of water sustainability.
  • Anna Henderson, Water Advisor for Governor Dayton
  • Paul Allwood, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health
  • Rebecca Flood, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Whitney Place, Director of Government Affairs, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  • Luke Skinner, Director,  Division of Ecological and Water Resources,  Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Doug Thomas, Assistant Director, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Coffee and Conversation with Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya


Thursday, March 2, 3 – 4 p.m.
Humphrey School Room 170
Meet the maker of Catching the Sun, award-winning filmmaker Shalini Kantayya. Catching the Sun captures the global race to lead the clean energy future through the stories of of workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China. The film premiered at the 2015 Los Angeles film festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick.
Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya uses film as a tool to educate, inspire, and empower audiences. he mission of her production company, 7th Empire Media, is to create a culture of human rights and a sustainable planet through wildly imaginative media that makes a real social impact. For more information: shalini.tv
This opportunity is a collaboration between the Boreas Leadership Program and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.

*****
After coffee, join us for the film:

Catching the Sun

March 2nd, 2017 | 6:00 PM

Bell Museum Auditorium

Speaker: Shalini Kantayya, Catching the Sun Filmmaker

Through the stories of workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China, Catching the Sun captures the global race to lead the clean energy future. Over the course of a solar jobs training program, Catching the Sun follows the hope and heartbreak of unemployed American workers seeking jobs in the solar industry.  With countries like China investing in innovative technologies and capitalizing on this trillion-dollar opportunity, Catching the Sun tells the story of the global energy transition from the perspective of workers and entrepreneurs building solutions to income inequality and climate change with their own hands.
Program ScheduleFood and tabling from local and campus environmental groups | 6:00 – 6:30Film Showing | 6:30 – 7:40
Filmmaker Q&A with audience | 7:40 – 8:30
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