Beloved Community Initiative Event, November 27

6 11 2018

The School of Public and International Affairs, in partnership with the Center for Humanities, and Virginia Union University, present The Beloved Community Initiative Event that will be coinciding with the Advancing the Human Condition Symposium on November 27.

The Beloved Community Initiative is a partnership between VT and Virginia Union University to explore and advance Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s conception of the Beloved Community in the 21st century. In 2017, the VT-VUU partnership launched the inaugural Beloved Community Initiative Essay Contest. The essay contest invited junior and senior high school students to choose one set of historical figures and prepare an exploration of those two (or three) persons, focusing on how the legacy of their life’s journey came together to advance the Beloved Community.

On November 27, 2018, The VT-VUU Beloved Community Initiative will celebrate the essay contest winners. The event will feature two panels on:
  1. the history of the Civil Rights movement through the lens of the winning essays; and
  2. understanding contemporary forms of structural inequality implications for creating systems of economic and social justice, paradigmatically captured in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for a “Beloved Community.”
The event will take place in Assembly Hall in Holtzman Alumni Center on November 27, from 1:30- 5pm. No registration is required and the event is open to the public.

The following panelists will be speaking during the event:





Living Legacies of the Too Soon Gone – LSCRC Intersections Event

5 10 2018

On Oct 10, 3-5pm, Dr. Virgil Wood will speak (via Zoom) at the Leadership and Social Change Residential College (LSCRC) for an Intersection on the “Living Legacies of the Too Soon Gone.” During the event, Dr. Wood will talk about the ancestors of the Beloved Community and engage with students in a conversation about how they can help advance the work of the VT-VUU Beloved Community Initiative.





The New SPIA Undergraduate Program Launches

11 08 2018

In one week we will welcome our first cohort of students into the new Smart and Sustainable Cities (SSC) and Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP) majors. Over the past two years, faculty in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) have worked to completely revise the Bachelors of Arts in Public and Urban Affairs (PUA) that is now the home of these two majors. The PUA degree will provide students with a solid foundation in U.S. government and politics, the legal foundations of planning, collaborative policy-making and planning processes, urban public issues, transdisciplinary problem solving, and public service leadership. It has been carefully designed to ensure student learning outcomes are introduced, reinforced, and assessed throughout the curriculum, which provides significant opportunities to integrate signature projects/problems within the curriculum.

The SSC major consists of two unique tracks in urban analytics and urban sustainability, an integrative course on data and the art of decision-making, and a capstone studio. The PUA degree core and SSC major creates one of the first undergraduate degrees in the nation to integrate governance and planning processes, urban analytics, and urban sustainability. See the video below for a little more information on the new SSC major.

The EPP major draws from the long and successful legacy of the Bachelors of Science in Environmental Policy and Planning, and will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to understand complex environmental challenges and develop enduring solutions. EPP majors will be able to analyze how environmental policies are implemented at national and sub-national levels, and evaluate how environmental policies are managed across sectoral and jurisdictional boundaries.

Students at Virginia Tech will be able to major or minor in SSC and EPP, or complete a double major in SSC and EPP. Students will also be able to take advantage of other majors and minors at Virginia Tech to develop their own unique combination of knowledge and skills. To support their decision-making, we have enhanced our undergraduate advising capacity to ensure that each student receives the help they need when selecting majors, minors, courses, and potential career pathways.

For more information about the new SPIA undergraduate program, please visit our website or contact Chris LaPlante (540-231-3831; chrisl@vt.edu).





The GreenPreneur Show

21 07 2018

This Sunday (July 22) at 3pm (Central Daylight Time), I look forward to joining Michael Thomas on The GreenPreneur Show to talk about my work on sustainable transportation and sustainable development.

Recordings of previous shows – which cover topics such as Modern-Day Entrepreneurship, Human and Environmental Interactions, Safe Public Drinking Watera Zero Waste Economy, Socially Responsible Investing, a Zero Emission Future, and Eco Friendly Community Development – can be accessed by clicking on the image below.





2018 PUA and EPP Graduation Video

17 05 2018

Congratulations to our 2018 Public and Urban Affairs (PUA) and Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP) graduates! The video below (taken through Google Glass) captures my view of the 2018 CAUS Commencement Ceremony. It also provides a behind the scenes look at the ceremony, which I hope the family and friends of our graduates will enjoy. I’d like to thank Prof. Eric Lyon for allowing me to include his original music – entitled “Of the Beginning” – in the video. This music was written for the 2018 Graduate School Commencement Ceremony. I was able to record a live version of this piece that can be heard throughout the video.





Public Talk – King’s Ethics & Kelso’s Economics

29 04 2018

On Wednesday, May 9, at 7:00pm, Dr. Virgil Wood (the 2018 VT Graduate Commencement Speaker), Prof. Harvey Cox (Hollis Professor of Divinity, Emeritus, Harvard University), and I will hold a public conversation on The Role of Dr. King, Jr.’s Ethics Kelso’s Economics in Creating a Workable Society. Prof. Cox will be joining the conversation via video conference.

2018-05-08_2218

Image of Dr. King, Jr. with Dr. Virgil Wood; Image of Louis O. Kelso

The event will be held in the Solitude Room at the Inn at Virginia Tech. Please share this announcement with students and community groups who may find this subject of interest. The event will provide attendees with a unique opportunity to engage with Dr. Wood and Dr. Cox, who have spent their lives working to advance economic and spiritual development across the nation.





Congratulations Kaitlyn Spangler!

24 04 2018

Congratulations to Kaitlyn Spangler for successfully defending her thesis entitled “When he comes home, then he can decide”: Male out-migration, the feminization of agriculture, and integrated pest management in the Nepali mid-hills.

Kaitlyn Spangler and Dr. Maria Elisa Christie

Kaitlyn’s research focused on gendered processes of male out-migration and their relation to IPM practices. See her abstract below for more information on her main findings.

I served as a member of Kaitlyn’s thesis committee, along with Dr. Maria Elisa Christie (committee chair), and Dr. Luke Juran (committee member).

Abstract:

As part of a USAID-funded integrated pest management (IPM) project, this thesis presents research conducted in the Midwestern mid-hills of Nepal across four communities. We used mixed methodologies to conduct semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observation with local farmers and NGOs. Through a feminist political ecology (FPE) lens, the goal was to better understand how the feminization of agriculture affects and is affected by IPM practices and decision-making. This research responds to a growing interest within development in the feminization of agriculture as a potentially empowering or disempowering global process of change, conceptualized through the ways that male out-migration affects the labor and decision-making roles of women and other household members left behind on the farm. We find that contextual factors change the implications of the feminization of agriculture narrative. Co-residence with in-laws and different migration patterns affect the dynamic and varied nature of household structure and headship. Furthermore, migration patterns have pushed women to take on new agricultural duties and manage increasing household labor responsibilities. Yet, IPM vegetable cultivation is changing how farmers use and value their land through increasing crop diversification. These agricultural decision-making processes extend beyond the household, and participation in community spaces through the IPM project may contest traditional gender norms. We contend that the heterogeneity of household power dynamics muddies the potentially empowering or disempowering effects of the feminization of agriculture, and we emphasize the importance of community spaces as a locus of decision-making in the sustainability of new agricultural technologies.