Take a few moments to learn more about our latest accomplishments in the environmental policy field.
Over the past year, we have conducted ground-breaking research in sustainable agriculture, China's energy future, public-private partnerships for sustainable development, carbon markets, ocean policy, mining policy, and much more.
Our full-time faculty members include:
- Jeff Langholz, Associate Professor
- Lyuba Zarsky, Associate Professor
- Jason Scorse, Associate Professor and IEP Program Chair
In 2010 Jeff Langholz produced a landmark study on sustainable agriculture, while working as a consultant to The Nature Conservancy and Georgetown University. The 131-page report documents how farmers are being pressured to unravel decades of on-farm conservation practices in a scientifically misguided effort to improve food safety. The report made national news, with articles in USA Today and the San Francisco Chronicle, and on National Public Radio (NPR).
Jeff participated in a summit on “Measuring Conservation Effectiveness” that included approximately 50 individuals from the world's leading biodiversity conservation organizations, gathered in California to plan a major global initiative to improve conservation outcomes. He was thrilled to be part of such a forward-thinking group and the great projects that have arisen from the summit.
Jeff also published an article in World Watch Magazine entitled, "Saving Species, Privately"; he has always been a big fan of the Washington DC-based World Watch Institute, which authors the annual State of the World Report. The article focused on how community groups, land trusts, individuals, businesses, and others can all contribute to biodiversity conservation.
To deepen the connection to Middlebury College, Jeff traveled to Vermont to deliver the inaugural lecture for "Global Vision – Global Reach: The Middlebury/Monterey Lecture Series". The lecture title was "Can the Private Sector be Trusted to Protect Nature? Conservation Cowboys in Africa and Latin America.”
Finally, Jeff agave many guest lectures at locations around the country, such as Stanford, Ohio State University, the University of Maryland, and the Center for Ocean Solutions.
Over the last year, Jim Williams continued his research on the long-term technology pathways and infrastructure transformations needed to achieve a decarbonized economy by 2050, and gave invited presentations on the results to researchers and officials in Sacramento, Brussels, Zurich, and Beijing, and to university audiences in Berkeley, Stanford, and Monterey. Jim co-authored an analysis of “Plan B” climate policy options in the wake of the failure of cap-and-trade legislation in the US congress, and went to Washington at the invitation of Sen. Jeff Bingaman to brief the senator and his staff on our recommendations.
On the China front, in work funded by the Energy Foundation, Jim’s team, including IEP alumna Ding Ding (MAIEP 2010), worked closely with an analysis team from China’s State Electricity Regulatory Commission on technical and policy options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from China’s electricity sector. The team also developed a Chinese-language software tool for use in planning energy efficiency programs, and led a multi-day workshop in Beijing to teach the use of the tool to more than fifty government agency and grid company analysts.
Taking a step back from the hands-on work, the team gave an invited presentation called “Electricity with Chinese Characteristics” at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum, focusing on the US role in China’s energy future, with co-presenter Jon Wellinghof, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. View a webcast of the presentation.
At the Institute, in Fall 2009 Jim created a new course, “Greening the Grid: the Present, Past, and Future of Electric Power Systems,” and in Spring 2010 created an advanced energy research seminar. Starting from scratch and conducted mostly by the students themselves with light-handed guidance, the research seminar produced a scholarly paper analyzing the cost of greenhouse gas mitigation achieved through water conservation measures—low relative to many other forms of mitigation— that has been submitted to a leading scientific journal. The research seminar also took more than 25 field trips to power plants, grid operations centers, venture capital firms, national laboratories, environmental agencies, regulatory bodies, high technology companies, and water desalination plants, which led to summer internships and/or long-term employment prospects for several members of the class.
As a consultant to the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University in Boston, Lyuba Zarsky is spearheading an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of a Canadian gold and silver mine in the indigenous highlands of Guatemala. The mine is at the center of international controversy; in June, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the OAS asked for mine operations to be suspended until health and environmental impacts could be evaluated. Lyuba went to Guatemala to conduct field research and will complete the report by January, 2011.
Lyuba continues to serve as an International Fellow to the Sustainable Markets Group (SMG) of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London. She recently wrote a strategy paper for IIED’s emerging work on “sustainable and inclusive energy” and participated in a strategic workshop with IIED researchers in March in London. Lyuba also became a regular contributor to the Triple Crisis Blog.
Lyuba’s students in her seminar on Private Public Partnerships for Sustainable Development produced a number of outstanding case studies, including a video on the Sustainable Palm Oil Round Table. Lyuba worked with MBA Chair Bruce Paton to develop a “Business and Sustainability” course sequence, and developed a new course on Public Policy and the Environment, which is now part of the IEP core curriculum.
Finally, Lyuba is serving on the Reaccreditation Committee for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) as part of the Middlebury merger. View Lyuba's full faculty profile.
For much of the year Jason Scorse worked on finishing his book entitled, What Environmentalists Need to Know About Economics, to be published by Palgrave-Macmillan in October. He finished a paper for The Solutions Journal on “Freeing the Market to Address Climate Change,” which will be published in November. He finished a larger treatment of the climate change essay that examines the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and submitted this essay for publication, and continued his work on international labor rights with a new paper entitled, “The Capitalist Conundrum” for publication as well.
Jason is most excited about developments at the Institute on the ocean policy front, as the National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP) was formally moved to the IEP program in the spring of 2010. Jason has been the lead non-market economist for the NOEP for over two years, and the NOEP has employed many IEP students as interns. Efforts are now underway to increase the NOEP’s funding and integrate its work into a larger “Center for the Blue Economy” housed at the Institute that will include both a research center on international marine policy and extended course offerings for IEP students. Jason gave many talks throughout the year, including moderating a panel on “Measuring the Ocean Economy” at the California World Ocean Conference.
As Chair of the IEP program, Jason has been updating all of the materials and helped with the curriculum reorganization that led to the new core courses and three IEP tracks. Jason is working closely with the chairs of the other programs to make the education at the Institute truly cross-disciplinary and cross-sector. He also helped develop a new course on carbon markets that was extremely successful and will likely be offered in the future as carbon markets continue to evolve around the world. He also spearheaded an effort to promote new global issue-focused working groups across programs that will propose new initiatives for funding in 2011.
Finally, as Chair of the Institute’s Sustainability Council, Jason has led the effort to make the campus more sustainable, and soon the Council will be making final recommendations on how to move forward with its carbon neutrality plan; proposed projects include reforesting the nearby Fort Ord, promoting cook stoves in developing countries, as well as purchasing carbon offsets from the Chicago Climate Exchange.