Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Grand Rapids: America's Greenest City

Well, it's finally starting to feel like Spring semester and we're just halfway through our STEP-FAR Seminar Series. STEP FAR, which stands for Science Technology and Environmental Policy Feedback and Research, is a bi-weekly seminar designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy.

Last week, over 30 people came to hear Professor Kathy Quick discuss her research on how Grand Rapids has become a leader as a Green City. The City's Green Grand Rapids effort is intended to establish a green infrastructure. The initiative will "focus on quality of life and the physical development of community infrastructure as it relates to greening, connectivity, natural systems, the Grand River, recreation and public health."

Grand Rapids showcases the most LEED certified buildings in the country, and is working to restore the rapids to the Grand River, the City's namesake. These efforts have been undertaken collectively through citizen involvement with both the public and private sectors.

Professor Quick, who is also the co-academic adviser for the Center for Integrative Leadership, provided excellent detail on the planning process and challenges of the initiative.

Next up for the STEP FAR Series: Thursday, April 2nd, second year MS-STEP student Matt Prorok will be presenting on "The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Electric Vehicle Utilization in Minnesota." And in two weeks on April 16th, MPP student Marta Monti will be sharing about her research on food waste, which lines up nicely with the debut of composting here at the Humphrey School. Please join us!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

International Urban Carbon Data and Findings of the IPCC on Human Settlements

Today, Dr. Shobhakar Dhakal spoke at the Humphrey School with faculty and students from across the university about cities, energy use, and climate change. Dr. Dhakal is currently serving as one of the Coordinating Lead Authors of the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC for the Group III dealing with human settlements and climate change mitigation.  His presentation is part of NSF RCN: Sustainable Cities- People and the Energy-Climate-Water Nexus, which includes scholars and researchers from Thailand, South Africa, Spain, and the US.

Photo Credit: IPCC Working Group III
Following Dr. Dhakal's presentation, the group discussed the challenges of governance related to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Among those issues discussed were how widely policy recommendations can vary from country to country as well as between local, state, and national levels. Participants discussed the importance of considering system design, and green building techniques and mitigating GHG emissions in new cities, as well as retrofitting current cities as we experience increasing population growth and more of the population moves into metropolitan areas.

Dr. Dhakal was Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project, an international scientific program hosted by the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) in Japan (2006-2012) and a Senior Policy Researcher and the Project Manager of Urban Project of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Japan (2001-2006). He is also a visiting Associate Professor to Graduate School of Environmental Studies of Nagoya University in Japan and a Guest Research Scholar to International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria since 2009.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Connecting STEM and the Humanities

In a recent post for the Minnesota Humanities Center, Humphrey Senior Fellow Steve Kelley notes that, "too many in higher education still treat the humanities and STEM as separate and unintegrated, but bright spots exist."

Kelley highlights the mutually important relationship between STEM subjects and the humanities, suggesting that both areas would benefit from the integration of cross-cutting concepts such as patterns, cause and effect, structure, and function. To read Kelley's full post visit the Minnesota Humanities Center blog.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Greening Grand Rapids: Building Collective Impact Through Collective Leadership

March 26, 2015
12:30 - 1:30pm
HHH 180

How did Grand Rapids, Michigan emerge as leader among green cities? Join us on March 26 to hear Professor Kathy Quick present her research and learn how independent actors and sectors shifted to a model of collective leadership to create "America's Greenest City."

This STEP-FAR series event is co-sponsored by the Center for Integrative Leadership and the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The STEP-FAR seminar series is designed for students, staff, faculty, and fellows to get together in an informal setting to discuss their projects, research-in-progress, opportunities, and a variety of other issues related to science, technology, environment, energy, and policy. It is a bi-weekly seminar taking place throughout the academic year. Learn more about STEP-FAR.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How Does Climate Change Influence Where We Choose To Live - And Vice Versa?

Join us to hear internationally recognized Professor Shobhakar Dhakal speak on cities, energy use and climate change. Learn what we already know, what the gaps are and how we can take action.

Thursday, March 26 
9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
HHH 180

Dr. Dhakal is a Professor at the Aisian Institute of Technology, as well as a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and explores the impacts of human settlement and urbanization on climate change mitigation.

Friday, March 13, 2015

MN STEM Network 2015 Conference

The Minnesota STEM Network is partnering with the Ignite Afterschool network for its 2015 conference. The conference will be held April 14-15 on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. Conference themes include 'Systems Building and Partnerships' and 'Integrating 21st Century Skills and STEM' into afterschool. Visit their website for more information. Keynote Presenters include:

Lisa Regalla, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Maker Education Initiative

Martin Storksdieck, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, Oregon State University

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What are STEP Students Reading?

Ever wondered what our STEP students are reading in class? This semester Humphrey Senior Fellow Steve Kelley is leading students in what has been cordially nicknamed the "STEP Book Club."

Every two weeks students read a new book that explores a current topic at the interface of science, technology, and public policy. The first half of the semester has included:

Social Psychology and Neuroscience
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
Jonathan Haidt

Climate Change
This Changes Everything

Water Availability and Management
Water 4.0

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mayors Agree to Move Forward Together on Advocacy for Legislative Change

Over 30 mayors and environmental policy leaders, representing some of Minnesota's key municipal leaders in climate protection and energy efficiency initiatives, met to discuss the benefits of regional collaboration on March 5. The challenge was to see if there was agreement on developing "voluntary and locally led platform to meet the challenge of climate change." There was consensus that moving forward advocacy for legislative change together would be most effective. Further, that integrating the technical expertise of the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (CSTEP) would be very beneficial. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

University to Host Mayors Round Table on Regional Energy and Climate Resilience

The Twin Cities Metropolitan Area Mayors Round Table on Regional Energy and Climate Resilience will take place today on the University of Minnesota campus. Along with faculty from the University and the Great Plains Institute, the event will bring together Mayors and city officials from the metropolitan area to discuss our future energy and climate needs. Anu Ramaswami, Humphrey Professor and Director of the Center's Sustainable Cities Initiative, will participate in the event. 

The event is sponsored by the Center for Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School, the University of Minnesota, and the Great Plains Institute. 

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