Congratulations Yakhya Diagne!

20 06 2013

In May 2013, Yakhya (Aicha) Diagne successfully defended her thesis entitled “Planning for Sustainable Development in Senegal.” Aicha’s research focused on understanding the complex institutional, legal, and political aspects of sustainable development planning in Senegal and identified options to advance the national planning framework to promote more sustainable forms of development. Aicha received a 2012 ThinkSwiss research scholarship that enabled her to undertake part of her research at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.Aisha_Paris

Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Aicha led the Office of Legal Affairs, Communication, Monitoring, and Evaluation in the Senegalese Department of Environment and Classified Establishments. She also managed the Technical Permanent Secretary of the Senegalese National Commission of Sustainable Development from 2008 to 2010.

Aicha is currently undertaking an internship at the West African Development Bank in Lome, Togo. After completing the internship, she will begin a position in the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development in Senegal.

I served as the chair of Aicha thesis committee, along with committee members John Browder and John Randolph.

Analysis of TRB RNS Database for Sustainability Research

7 01 2013

As part of my role as the research chair for the TRB Transportation and Sustainability Committee (ADD40), I undertook with the support of my graduate research assistant Erin Puckett, an analysis of the TRB Research Needs Statements (RNS) database ( to determine the extent to which the topic of sustainable transportation is addressed in the proposed research projects listed in the database.

Figure for blogThe intention of this exploratory analysis was to identify the type and scope of projects being proposed and which TRB committees are supporting sustainability-related research proposals in one or more areas. The results from this analysis should help the Transportation and Sustainability Committee (ADD40) determine which proposed research needs to support, which committees to initially engage with, and where opportunities exist to propose new research projects.

Overall, it was found that many RNS records address some area of sustainability, whether openly acknowledged or not. It was much less common to find records proposing research that truly addresses sustainability in a comprehensive way, with emphasis on environmental, social, and economic impacts.

Over the last six years there does not appear to have been a steady increase in the number of records that are related to sustainability (see Figure 4 above). Further, while there seems to be an overarching idea that transportation research should have some sustainability-related focus, individual records do not always address this explicitly in their goals or objectives. Perhaps this is partially due to the lack of an overall guiding definition of sustainability/sustainable transportation that all TRB committees can adopt.

This analysis has led to several recommendations for advancing the research portfolio of the Transportation and Sustainability Committee that are included in the full report. The raw data that was used to support the analysis is also provided below.

Full Report (PDF)

Raw Data (Excel file)

Presentation (PDF)

Kindle Version of Textbook

22 11 2012

A kindle version of our textbook has just been released. For those of you who like to travel light, this might be a more convenient option.

New Papers in The European Financial Review

26 10 2012

Nicholas Ashford, Robert Ashford, and I recently published two articles in the European Financial Review that extend some of the ideas we have discussed previously in our textbook and related papers.

Addressing the Crisis in Employment and Consumer Demand: Reconciliation with Environmental and Financial SustainabilityThe earning capacity of ordinary people can be enhanced by some combination of two contributions; wages earned through employment, and money earned through the ownership of productive capital. The latter includes ordinary investment from wage savings that people might make through the purchasing of stocks, bonds, and property; changes in ownership structures of businesses, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and enabling people to acquire capital with the earnings of capital based on binary economics. This article focuses on employment and the restructuring of work to enhance the contributions and productiveness of labor – as opposed to increasing labor productivity by enhancing the productiveness of physical capital.

Broadening Capital Acquisition with the Earnings of Capital as a Means of Sustainable Growth and Environmental SustainabilityThis article expands on the first by taking an explicit look at increasing earning capacity through the ownership of productive capital. The article focuses on the binary economic approach and explains how this approach can enhance not only the capital earning capacity of poor and middle-class people, but also the demand for employment and the prospects for achieving environmental sustainability. The binary economic approach envisions an implementation of an ownership-broadening system of corporate finance that would require no taxes, redistribution, or government command. Corporations would be free to continue to meet their capital requirements as before, but they would have an additional, potentially more profitable, market means to do so.

During the Spring 2013 semester, Robert Ashford will join other scholars at Virginia Tech to take part in a seminar that will debate how a binary economics approach could lead to sustained and sustainable economic development.

Updated Primer on Sustainable Development

11 09 2012

Primer_SustDev_2012-09-11I recently updated the Primer on the Emergence and Evolution of Sustainable Development (1951 to 2012), to include a discussion of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (known as Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20-22, 2012. The updated text takes a close look at the idea of the green economy, which was endorsed by delegates at the conference as a flexible mechanism for advancing sustainability.

New Article – Administrative & Regulatory Law News

21 07 2012

Nicholas Ashford and I recently published a short article entitled “Regulation-Induced Innovation for Sustainable Development” in the Journal of Administrative & Regulatory Law News (see pages 21-23 of the journal).

Citation: Ashford, N. A. and Hall, R. P. (2012) “Regulation-Induced Innovation for Sustainable Development.” Administrative & Regulatory Law News, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 21-23, Spring 2012.

Textbook Wins at Green Book Festival

25 05 2012

The textbook that Nicholas Ashford and I co-authored – entitled Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State – recently won the best “Business” book category at the 2012 Green Book Festival. For more information about the award, please go to the Green Book Festival website:

Ashford Talks About Our New Book

2 03 2012

Nicholas Ashford recently created five short videos in which he explores many of the core issues we raise in our textbook Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development: Transforming the Industrial State (Yale University Press 2011).

The best order to view these five video clips are 4, 5, 1, 2, and 3.

New Paper in EIST

9 02 2012

The Crisis in Employment and Consumer Demand: Reconciliation with Environmental Sustainability

Nicholas A. Ashford, Ralph P. Hall, and Robert H. Ashford

Abstract: This paper argues that a sustainable industrial system depends not only on good environmental and public health outcomes, but also on adequate employment and earning capacity in a well-functioning and equitable economic system. These concerns are likely to dominate future national political debates, requiring responses that increase the earning capacity of individuals through changes in the nature of work and employment, and in the ownership of productive capital. Making the economy greener, while certainly necessary for long-term economic and societal survival, does not necessarily mean more and better paying jobs on a large enough scale to make serious progress to reducing unemployment and underemployment. At present, national and global reforms are focused on improving the financial system, which is not synonymous with reforming the economic system or improving the economic status of individual citizens. This paper discusses specific policies and initiatives that need to be considered to ensure sustainable employment and livelihoods.


  • Policies and initiatives to advance sustainable employment/livelihoods are discussed.
  • Sustainable industrial systems require adequate employment and earning capacity.
  • Green growth does not necessarily mean more and better-paying jobs.
  • Both labor productivity and GDP/GNP are flawed measures of economic progress.
  • Productivity and productiveness are not the same.