Virtual Hooding of My Summer/Fall 2020 PhD Graduates

18 12 2020

Congratulations on your Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) doctorate!

Dr. Luis Felipe Camacho Carvajal: “Technology, Participatory Management Practices (PMP), and Dignity at Work: Negotiating the Use of Technology in a Plastics Packaging Firm”

Dr. Jessica Agnew: “Demand-Side Factors that Affect the Potential of Market-Based Approaches to Alleviate Micronutrient Malnutrition in Mozambique”

Dr. Raj Kumar GC: “Exploring the Potential of Multiple Use Water Services for Smallholder Farmers in the Western Middle Hills of Nepal”

Dr. Lindy Cranwell: “University Comprehensive Internationalization (CI): Faculty Meaning-Making, Motivations, and Perceptions for Engaging Globally”





Construction of the Mzuni Library and Auditorium Begins

23 11 2020

In December 2015, Mzuzu University (Mzuni) in Malawi lost their library in tragic fire. Since then, I have been working with a team of faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech and Mzuni to design a new library.

Last week, on November 20, this effort reached a major milestone when Agnes NyaLonje (the Minister of Education in Malawi) laid the first foundation stone of the new library and auditorium.

The construction of the facility is expected to take around two years and is scheduled for completion in November 2022. I’ll provide more updates on this project as it progresses in the coming months.





George Floyd Jubilee

14 10 2020

Since 2016, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Virgil Wood, a church leader, educator, and civil rights activist who has committed much of his life’s work to the struggle for economic and spiritual development among the nation’s disadvantaged.

Our work together led to the creation of the Beloved Community Initiative (BCI), which established an essay contest and hosted the MLK Jubilee Summit in 2018. In that same year, Dr. Wood was invited to give the Virginia Tech Graduate School Commencement speech (see below). The BCI has also produced a series of documentary-grade videos that capture the life and work of Dr. Wood and his colleague Dr. Owen Cardwell.

Dr. Virgil Wood’s speech runs from 1:10 to 1:18

With the pandemic uprooting all of our lives, a number of BCI initiatives – such as the 2020 essay contest – were put on hold this year. However, Dr. Wood and I continued to engage in far reaching conversations about the need for transformative change at local to national level.

Earlier this month, I asked Dr. Wood if I could start recording our conversations and condense them into shorter themed videos to share more broadly. He agreed, and we created a new “In conversation” series that will be posted on the BCI’s YouTube channel. In this new series, Dr. Wood will provide his perspectives on a broad range of issues relating to the Beloved Community and Beloved Economy.

Today – October 14, 2020 – would have been George Floyd’s 47th birthday. In the first video below, Dr. Wood reflects on Mr. Floyd’s life and looks ahead to the George Floyd Jubilee, when he would have been 50 years old.

In the second video below, Dr. Wood talks about his experience marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s and connects this experience with the current Black Lives Matter movement.

The Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell (right) stands with the Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. (left) and Virgil Wood on the roof of a Boston public school in 1965. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell.

In the third video below, Dr. Wood discusses the relationship between Martin Luther King Sr. and George Wallace and what this means for the Beloved Community.

If there are specific issues that you would like to hear Dr. Wood talk about, please contact me and I will include them in our future conversations.





Media Coverage of The Market of Virginia Tech

2 10 2020

Below are a few of the news articles that have been written on The Market of Virginia Tech.

New program puts fresh food in the hands of students




The Market of Virginia Tech

30 09 2020

Over the past several months, Dr. Jessica Agnew (Assistant Director, Research, Operations, and Program Management at Center for International Research, Education, and Development, Virginia Tech), Jesse Harden (a PhD student in Computer Science at Virginia Tech), and I have been running an impact evaluation of Phase 1 and 2 of Virginia Tech’s new food access program. The Market of Virginia Tech was officially announced today. In the coming weeks, we plan to release a platform that will share the results from our 2019 study of Food Access and Security at Virginia Tech and the insights we obtained from our impact evaluation of The Market of Virginia Tech. In the future, this new platform will also present the research we are currently undertaking on how blockchain technology can be used to improve food security through African indigenous vegetables in Kenya.





New Paper on “Addressing Inequality”

9 07 2020

Our new paper entitled “Addressing Inequality: The First Step Beyond COVID-19 and Towards Sustainability” is now available. I will provide the story behind this paper in a subsequent post.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted billions of lives across the world and has revealed and worsened the social and economic inequalities that have emerged over the past several decades. As governments consider public health and economic strategies to respond to the crisis, it is critical they also address the weaknesses of their economic and social systems that inhibited their ability to respond comprehensively to the pandemic. These same weaknesses have also undermined efforts to advance equality and sustainability. This paper explores over 30 interventions across the following nine categories of change that hold the potential to address inequality, provide all citizens with access to essential goods and services, and advance progress towards sustainability: (1) Income and wealth transfers to facilitate an equitable increase in purchasing power/disposable income; (2) broadening worker and citizen ownership of the means of production and supply of services, allowing corporate profit-taking to be more equitably distributed; (3) changes in the supply of essential goods and services for more citizens; (4) changes in the demand for more sustainable goods and services desired by people; (5) stabilizing and securing employment and the workforce; (6) reducing the disproportionate power of corporations and the very wealthy on the market and political system through the expansion and enforcement of antitrust law such that the dominance of a few firms in critical sectors no longer prevails; (7) government provision of essential goods and services such as education, healthcare, housing, food, and mobility; (8) a reallocation of government spending between military operations and domestic social needs; and (9) suspending or restructuring debt from emerging and developing countries. Any interventions that focus on growing the economy must also be accompanied by those that offset the resulting compromises to health, safety, and the environment from increasing unsustainable consumption. This paper compares and identifies the interventions that should be considered as an important foundational first step in moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and towards sustainability. In this regard, it provides a comprehensive set of strategies that could advance progress towards a component of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 to reduce inequality within countries. However, the candidate interventions are also contrasted with all 17 SDGs to reveal potential problem areas/tradeoffs that may need careful attention.




2020 Beyster Symposium

18 06 2020

On Tuesday, June 23, from 9:00 to 10:30am (EDT), I will be participating in the online (and open access) 2020 Beyster Symposium. The purpose of the symposium is to study broad-based forms of capital ownership and capital income such as employee stock ownership, equity compensation, profit sharing, gain sharing, and worker cooperatives in the corporation.

During my session at the symposium – which focuses on “UBI, Taxation, and the Environment,” a recording of my presentation will be released and the panelists in the session will be available in the chat feature of the conference platform to answer any questions you might have on our presentations or papers.

To join my session, go to https://beystersymposium.org/ and select Room 2 at 9:00am on June 23.

All of the material prepared for the symposium can be accessed via this dropbox site.

I will be presenting a co-authored paper entailed “Universal Basic Income and Inclusive Capitalism: Consequences for Sustainability.” My Prezi presentation can be accessed via this link.





A Message for the 2020 SPIA Undergraduates

15 05 2020

Since I was unable to celebrate with the class of 2020 today, I tasked my children with helping me record a video message for our graduating seniors. I even managed to find enough courage to record myself playing the guitar 🙂

The online VT commencement ceremony will start at 6:30pm (EDT) this evening and can be accessed here: https://commencement.vt.edu

Congratulations to all of our 2020 graduates!





Faculty Fellow Five

25 04 2020

I was recently asked the five questions below for the “Faculty Fellow Five” section of the Leadership and Social Change Residential College (LSCRC) newsletter. Over the past year I have had the pleasure of serving as faculty fellow for the LSCRC, which is one of the newest living learning communities on campus and a community that has close connections with the SPIA undergraduate program.

1) How did you get to where you are now?

Someday I hope to write this story for my children so they know why I moved my life from the UK to the US. At this point, I have spent half of my life in each country, with my formative years in the UK and most of my higher education and professional life here. Both of my parents were teachers at a comprehensive school (a high school) in the county of Wiltshire and I grew up in a small village surrounded by farmland. One of the oldest houses in the village was built in the fifteenth century, and my family house was built around a hundred years later. When I arrived in Boston as a graduate student in 2000, I often found myself reflecting on the fact that the oldest parts of the city were probably built after my family house. I believe this intergenerational perspective has played a significant role in shaping my research and professional activities that center around sustainability. My education and training as a young civil engineer also provided me with a global perspective – by taking me to Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Ecuador – revealing our ability to shape (for good and bad) the environment that surrounds us. During my graduate studies in the US, my focus shifted to technology, management, and policy. While my civil engineering roots provided me with knowledge on how to build things, my graduate studies allowed me to explore the policy, law, and economic frameworks that shape why we build things. The legacy of this interdisciplinary education continues today through my research on sustainable water supply/sanitation and transportation systems and macro policies/strategies focused on how we can transform industrial states towards sustainability. I also think it is important to recognize that none of this would have been possible without the support I received over the years from university scholarship programs, professional organizations such as the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the US Transportation Research Board, and mentors who continue to inspire my work.

2) What are your favorite things to do outside of work? 

We live in a beautiful area and I love riding my ElliptiGO around the town and rural roads. Yes, I am that person on the black standup/elliptical bike wearing the luminous yellow bib that you see around town!

3) If you could pick one person who you admire the most, who would it be and why?

I’m going to be a little cheeky here and change this question to … “If you could pick one type of person who you admire the most, who would it be and why?” The people I most admire at this moment in time are those who are using their voices/platforms to advocate for transformative change. People who fall into this group include Andrew YangScott StantensMarjorie KellyMariana MazzucatoJason HickelGiorgos Kallis, Steve Keen, and Grace Blakely to name a few. What they have in common are a set of ideas that challenge the status quo and advance visions that could benefit all members of society. While these ideas/visions vary, they are starting to shape narratives and agendas around the world that could form a new era of change.

4) If you could give one piece of advice to any student, what would it be?

When making any decision about your future, pay attention to what makes you the most excited/energized, and lean into this. When you do lean in, work collaboratively and strategically, and focus on what is truly important. I would also add the need to take risks and be adaptable when things don’t quite work as planned.

5) How does your work intersect with leadership and social change? 

I would say the core of my work is connected with the need for visionary leadership to advance sustainability. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic we were facing two crises – one environmental and one social. The pandemic has temporarily eased the environmental crisis, but has dramatically worsened the social inequality crisis. Millions of people will struggle to recover from the economic shutdown and some may never recover. My work is focused on how do we change the structure of the systems we create so they directly address environmental and social crises, and could help minimize the impact of global shocks such as pandemics.





TRB 2020 + a Conversation with Congressmen Garcia and Takano

2 01 2020

For more than a decade, I have served as a member of the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Transportation and Sustainability Committee (ADD40). During the TRB 2020 Annual Meeting, ADD40 will be holding its final series of conference meetings, workshops, and lectern sessions (see below for more information on these activities). The success of the ADD40 committee has meant the subject of sustainability will now be elevated to the Sustainability and Resilience Group (AM000), which will have a special Section on Transportation and Sustainability (AMS00). The new TRB structure can be accessed here.

During this conference, I will have the pleasure of hosting a conversation with Representatives Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (Fourth Congressional District of Illinois) and Mark Takano (41st Congressional District of California), who along with Representative Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts 7th Congressional District) launched the Future of Transportation Caucus in 2019. During our session – entitled A Century of Progress? Reflecting on How Transportation Has or Has Not Promoted Sustainability Outcomes in Equity, the Economy, and the Environment – we will discuss the role of the new caucus and explore what can be done to advance environmental, social, and economic sustainability through transportation system development. We plan to dedicate over one half of our session to an open Q&A with conference participants.

https://annualmeeting.mytrb.org/interactiveprogram

Monday (Jan 13)

Tuesday (Jan 14)

Wednesday (Jan 15)

Thursday (Jan 16)