SPIA Seminar (9/16, 12-1pm)

What is the relationship between climate change and increasing inequality? How can a different paradigm and representation of the world help advance a more sustainable future?

In this seminar, Dr. Tiziano Distefano (an Assistant Professor at the University of Florence) will explore how Ecological Macroeconomics (EM) and Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) can be used to merge diverse knowledge, data, and methodologies to address complex environmental problems and their connections with the socio-economic system. Dr. Distefano will present his EM-IAM research focused on Italy and France, and will discuss how this analysis approach could be applied to the US.

When: September 16, 12-1pm (EST)

Location: Room 111, Architecture Annex

Zoom: Register here

USAID LASER PULSE Policy/Product Briefs

The final policy and product briefs from our USAID LASER PULSE project entilted “Exploring the Use of Blockchain Technology to Promote the Production and Consumption of African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya” are now available.

Agnew, J., & Hall, R. P. (2022). Policy Brief: Research evidence of the impacts of blockchain technology on improving food security through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya. USAID LASER PULSE, 4 pages. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/111580
Agnew, J., Hall, R. P., & Kristofikova, N. (2022). Product Brief: Linking the AgUnity Blockchain-based Platform to the Kenyan Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy. USAID LASER PULSE, 4 pages, 4 pages. http://hdl.handle.net/10919/111581

Final LASER-PULSE Report – Impact of Blockchain Technology on Food Insecurity through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya

The final (peer-reviewed) report from our USAID LASER PULSE project on how blockchain technology impacts food security through African indigenous vegetables in Western Kenya is now available.

This study is one of the first to explore how blockchain technology (BCT) could be used to improve food security in communities that are reliant on agriculture but are the last to receive services or access to markets, known as the ‘last-mile’. The goal was to determine how BCT could contribute to improving the income of African indigenous vegetable (AIV) value chain actors (e.g., producers, traders, and retailers) and to the affordability, availability, and accessibility of nutritious foods like AIVs for consumers. It finds that BCT can simultaneously strengthen the functionality of an entire agri-food value chain by increasing the efficiency of transactions among value chain actors, improving cooperation along the value chain, and enhancing access to information. A decrease in post-harvest loss, reduction in negotiation and search costs, and traceability of Grade A vegetables were facilitated by the blockchain functionality of the AgUnity V3 SuperApp. Producer income was improved by better meeting market demand, time savings on AIV activities, increasing the supply of Grade A vegetables, and making information on the vegetables more available to consumers. Increased incomes led to improved food security among producers by facilitating their ability to procure more food, especially higher quality proteins and fruits. Participants and consumers reported an increase in the consumption of AIVs over the study period because of increased quality, availability, and awareness of their nutritional importance.

Pisa Study Abroad – Last Call

This is the final call for students interested in the Pisa, Italy, study abroad program. This unique study abroad program will provide students with a transdisciplinary perspective on sustainable development and is intended for rising seniors and graduate students interested in planning, policy, economics, business, innovation, environmental studies, and law. The program will explore the many dimensions of sustainability and how national, multinational, and international political and legal mechanisms can be used to further a transition towards sustainable development.

The program includes a summer school at the University of Pisa, attendance of 14th Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE), and hiking in the Apuan Alps.

If you are interested in the program, please contact me by March 31

While this program was designed for students at Virginia Tech and MIT, it is open to any rising senior or graduate student in good academic standing at any institute of higher education in the US. See below for more information on how to register as a non-Virginia Tech student.

Via Vandelli

Non-Virginia Tech Students 

  1. Create a non-VT study abroad account with the Global Education Office and apply for the study abroad program by the March 31 deadline.
  2. Your study abroad application will be reviewed. If you are offered acceptance to the study abroad program, the offer is pending admission to Virginia Tech as a Non-Degree Seeking student. To apply, complete the non-degree application. The non-degree application requires a $60 application fee and transcripts from previous studies.
  3. Non-degree applications are generally reviewed and approved within 72 hours. Students receive a non-degree offer letter with a Virginia Tech student ID number in order to pay study abroad program fees and be registered for the course. 
  4. Non-Virginia residents pay the out-of-state tuition rate (listed on the financial matters tab), unless students can document Virginia residency. For more information on qualifying for in-state status, see the in-state eligibility page.
  5. Students need to work with their home institution (academic adviser/faculty adviser/Registrar’s Office) to verify whether the Virginia Tech course/transcript can be transferred and count toward their degree.  

From Ping Pong to Community Wealth and Collaboration

Over the past year, performance artist Steven T. Licardi and I have been exploring ways to advance new economic thinking – related to Community Wealth Building – through a SciArts project. This project was funded by a grant from the Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech.

If you would like to know how ping ping and community wealth building are connected, please join us at 12pm on Thursday, March 17, at the new Creativity and Innovation District build at Virginia Tech.

New F.I.R.E. Starters Program Launches

I’m pleased to announce the launch of the new F.I.R.E. (Forging Interest in Research and Engagement) Starters undergraduate research program at Virginia Tech that aims to increase access to, and training for, research opportunities for underrepresented minority students.

Students will participate in cohort learning that introduces them to transdisciplinary research and prepares them to pursue future research opportunities. Each student may receive up to $4,000 in funding

Students in all disciplines – especially in the humanities and social sciences – are encouraged to think broadly about how their interests intersect with the theme of Environment and Society and how they could advance a research project that builds on their interests.

In addition to receiving a stipend, successful applicants will be given an opportunity to apply for up to $4,000 of additional funding to support a proposed research project.

If you are a faculty member/researcher/advisor at Virginia Tech, please encourage your eligible students to apply. Details are available here.

Seminar – Theory for Action (Feb 4, 12pm)

On Friday, February 4, from 12 – 1pm, Dr. Tiziano Distefano (University of Pisa, Italy) will talk about his research on applying system dynamics to address climate change and social inequality.

Please register here to obtain the Zoom link for the seminar. 

During his presentation, Dr. Distefano will also talk about a unique summer 2022 VT-MIT-UNIPI Study Abroad program (in Pisa, Italy) that will explore transitions towards sustainability and enable students to attend the 14th Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE) and hike and learn in the Apuan Alps.

Science on Tap – Community Wealth Building

For many, our current economic models no longer ensure our basic human needs are met. However, other worlds are possible, but we can’t create those worlds without you. Please join performance artist Steven T. Licardi and I on Wednesday, January 26, from 5:30 – 7:00pm at the Rising Silo, for an interactive performance-lecture that imagines, explores, and develops a vision of Community Wealth-Building in our community.

Behind the Scenes at the AgChain Hackathon

The video below presents a behind-the-scenes view of the AgChain Hackathon held at Egerton University, Kenya, from November 15 to 17. It was recorded by Nurvitria Kristofikova, a Program Director at AgUnity and core team member of our project entitled “Exploring Blockchain Technology to Improve Food Security Through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya.”