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.

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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.





Dr. Marc Fialkoff Receives Outstanding Dissertation Award

30 03 2018

This evening I had the pleasure of attending Virginia Tech’s Graduate Awards Banquet where Marc Fialkoff received the award for Outstanding Dissertation in Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Humanities. This university-level award is a significant achievement and well deserved.

Marc’s research focused on quantifying the effect of the Jones Act restriction on freight transportation networks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. His research blended civil engineering, law, network science, and planning to analyze the impact of a law on critical infrastructure. Marc’s committee represented the interdisciplinary nature of transportation policy, with committee members from Urban Affairs and Planning; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Law; and Network Science. I served as co-chair of Marc’s committee with Ralph Buehler, along with committee members Kathleen HancockHenning Mortveit, and Jonathan Gutoff.

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During the evening, Marc and I reflected on the life and legacy of one of my PhD advisors – Prof. Joseph Sussman – who sadly passed away on March 20, 2018. I had the privilege of knowing Prof. Sussman since 2000, and he served on both my Masters and PhD committees. Since I graduated from MIT in 2006, Prof. Sussman continued as a mentor and friend, providing insightful advice on my tenure process and was always keen to learn what was happening on the family front.

Prof. Sussman also became a mentor to Marc, who included Prof. Sussman’s approach to CLIOS (Complex, Large-Scale, Interconnected, Open, Sociotechnical) systems in his research. Prof. Sussman fondly referred to Marc as his “academic grandson,” which provides a sense of how he approached his role as an educator and mentor. Prof. Sussman made MIT a home for his students, many of whom (including myself) were international and new to the American way of life. I know that my approach to advising has been heavily influenced by Prof. Sussman, who I’m sure is also very proud of what Marc has been able to achieve.

Prof. Sussman (1939-2018)





Dr. Walker to Speak on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Politics of Freedom

11 01 2018

On Tuesday, January 16 at 2:30pm, Dr. Corey Walker (Vice President, Dean, and Professor of Religion and Society at Virginia Union University) will be giving a public lecture entitled The Sovereignty of the Imagination: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Politics of Freedom, at the Biocomplexity Institute Auditorium at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Corey’s lecture is the first official event of Virginia Tech’s 2018 MLK Week. Dr. Corey is a core member of the VT-VUU team behind the 2018 Beloved Community Initiative Essay Contest (see the video below). This contest provides junior and senior students at high schools across Virginia with the opportunity to explore exemplars of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s notion of the Beloved Community – a community based on social and economic justice and a common love for fellow human beings. The essay submissions are due by 6pm on April 4, 2018.





The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ Richmond Gathering

28 11 2017

Next week I will be taking part in a series of events and meetings in Richmond, Virginia, that will officially launch the Beloved Community Initiative. The press release below provides more details about this gathering. If you live in Richmond, please consider attending one of the four FREE public events that will be held from Dec 3-5. Please click here to register for these events.

Press Release – 11/28/2017

The School of Public and International Affairs is pleased to announce a workshop developed through the efforts of the Beloved Community Initiative (BCI). The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ Richmond Gathering is a three-day event hosted in partnership with Virginia Union University and will be held at various locations in Richmond, Virginia, starting on December 3, 2017, and closing on December 5, 2017.

The working group associated with the BCI has developed the concept of “Spirals,” or holistic organizing efforts that combine broad, creative thinking and writing with input and inspiration of engagement and experience as a convenient heuristic to describe its aims for this effort. The Richmond workshop will examine community projects (engagement and experience) rooted in current understandings of social change that engage community members, students, and faculty, and seek actively to learn from them (creative thinking and writing) by means of sustained discussion (reflection).

The Virginia Tech team behind the BCI believe that as a leading academic institution, the university can serve as a wellspring of ideas for community change and strategies to secure social justice. These strategies can be developed, applied, and refined both with and in partner communities.

The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ is a workshop convened by Dr. Virgil Wood and has been designed to encourage the sharing of ideas and new ways of thinking concerning social change. The planned events will explore the ongoing work in Flint, Michigan, and the educational uplift of children both physically and psychologically affected by the Flint water crisis. Additional sessions of the workshop intend to explore the following:

  • Investigate ways and means of cultivating hope as an essential resource and reservoir for encouraging community resilience by means of systematic assessment of specific community action strategies.
  • Examine and create conditions necessary to ensure environmental justice for all community residents, but particularly those suffering economically or as a consequence of social discrimination in partnership with the Flint city government and civil society organizations in that community.
  • Envision the broad political, social, and economic changes necessary to secure the moral arc identified by the concept of the Beloved Community at local, state, and national scales.

The workshop will feature presentation and commentary from the following list of speakers:

  • Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • Ralph Hall, Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech
  • Chivonne Battle, Virginia Tech, BCI Task Force
  • Virgil Wood, Ridenour Faculty Fellow, Virginia Tech; Pastor Emeritus, Pond Street Baptist Church; VUU Alum, Former Dean, Northeastern University; Former ten-year working associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Christian Moore, WHY TRY Founder.
  • Owen C. Cardwell Jr., Pastor, New Canaan International Church, President and Founder, Heroes and Dreams Academy
  • Max Stephenson Jr., Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director, Institute for Policy and Governance, Virginia Tech
  • Sylvester Johnson, Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities, Virginia Tech
  • Anne Khademian, Director, School of Public and International Affairs Virginia Tech

Additional information and registration is available at www.belovedcommunityinitiative.eventbrite.com.





John O. Browder

27 09 2017

Last week, a colleague, mentor, and friend Professor John O. Browder lost his battle against cancer. John has left behind a significant legacy at Virginia Tech and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on his enduring impact.

During the eight years I worked with John, I was able to witness his dedication to student learning and leadership in advancing the international aspects of our academic programs. As a mentor, John was always willing to provide honest and constructive feedback that helped many faculty at Virginia Tech navigate the tenure and promotion process. I now find myself repeating the advice I received from John to others, advice that came from his decades of experience serving on promotion and tenure committees at the school, college, and university level.

In the classroom setting, John created a relaxed and open environment, but always challenged students to continually advance their knowledge. He created a learning partnership model with our doctoral students as they co-explored theories of pedagogy and learning. With our masters students, John anchored our international development offerings. At the undergraduate level, John taught environmental ethics and addressed real problems with clients in the environmental problem solving studio.

When I arrived at Virginia Tech in 2009, John asked me to take over the international development planning studio that he created and had taught for over a decade. We later made this studio one of the two core classes that support the graduate certificate in Global Planning and International Development Studies. This certificate was created under John’s leadership in collaboration with other programs at Virginia Tech. John never went far from the studio, leading discussions on the lessons he learned from his research in the Amazon or serving on the studio’s proposal review panel. I have included a few pictures below of John in action.

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John will be dearly missed by everyone he touched. He still had much to give, especially related to helping Virginia Tech become a global land grant institution.

Thank you John for everything you gave us.





Congratulations Marc Fialkoff!

14 09 2017

Congratulations to Marc Fialkoff who successfully defended his PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization on Monday. Marc’s research focused on quantifying the effect of the Jones Act restriction on freight transportation networks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. His research blended civil engineering, law, network science, and planning to analyze the impact of a law on critical infrastructure. Marc’s committee represented the interdisciplinary nature of transportation policy, with committee members from Urban Affairs and Planning, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Law, and Network Science. I served as co-chair Marc’s committee with Ralph Buehler, along with committee members Kathleen Hancock, Henning Mortveit, and Jonathan Gutoff.

In addition to being an interdisciplinary study of law, policy, and freight transportation, Marc’s research leveraged a collaborative partnership between the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). As part of his research, Marc spent a year with the Critical Infrastructure and Climate Change team at ORNL, under the supervision of Dr. Olufemi Omitaomu, collecting data and analyzing the impacts of the law on the highway and railway networks. Using tools developed by ORNL researchers, Marc connected his background in law and planning with technical expertise to evaluate law and policy decisions on freight transportation. Most recently, Marc was selected as an Eno Fellow by the Eno Center for Transportation in recognition of his interdisciplinary approach to studying problems in transportation research.

Marc’s research is timely in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to inform decision-makers as to the impact of relaxing the Jones Act and its implications on the freight transportation network. It is the first study to externalize the Jones Act as a legal lever for influencing recovery within the freight transportation system.

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Abstract

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused massive disruption and destruction to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The intensity of the storm forced the Port of New York and New Jersey to close, forcing cargo diversion to the Port of Norfolk in Virginia. Because of the Jones Act restriction on foreign vessels moving between U.S. ports, the restriction on short sea shipping was viewed as a barrier to recovery.

Much of the critical infrastructure resilience and security literature focuses on the “hardening” of physical infrastructure, but not the relationship between law, policy, and critical infrastructure. Traditional views of transportation systems do not adequately address questions of governance and emergent behaviors such as resilience. In contrast, recent development of a System of Systems framework provides a conceptual framework to study the relationship of law and policy systems to the transportation systems they govern.

Applying a System of Systems framework, this research analyzed the effect of relaxing the Jones Act on freight transportation networks experiencing a disruptive event. Using WebTRAGIS (Transportation Routing Analysis GIS), the results of the research demonstrate that relaxing the Jones Act had a marginal reduction on highway truck traffic and no change in rail traffic volume in the aftermath of a disruption. The research also analyzed the Jones Act waiver process and the barriers posed by the legal process involved in administration and review for Jones Act waivers. Recommendations on improving the waiver process include greater agency coordination and formal rulemaking to ensure certainty with the waiver process.

This research is the first in studying the impact of the Jones Act on a multimodal freight transportation network. Likewise, the use of the System of Systems framework to conceptualize the law and a critical infrastructure system such as transportation provides future opportunities for studying different sets of laws and policies on infrastructure. This can provide policymakers and planners with a more robust opportunity to understand the impact of law and policy on the infrastructure systems they govern.