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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013


Park & Recreation Board Becomes "Watershed Hero" with Help from STEP Student

linnae.jpgThe Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board was one of seven individuals and organizations receiving a 2013 Watershed Heroes Award by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District on Thursday, October 17. The awards recognize the important role we have in improving and protecting our water resources. The board was honored for its fight to protect Minneapolis lakes against aquatic invasive species.

Linnae Nelson, a second-year STEP student, serves as an aquatic invasive species inspector for the board where she helps prevent zebra mussels and other invasive species from Minneapolis waters. A native of rural Southeast Idaho, Linnae is the second oldest of four girls and grew up in a gorgeous place in between the Snake River and Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

She studied international economics and environmental science at Albertson College of Idaho where she created a campus-wide recycling program and was active in policy debate and model United Nations. Over the next several years she moved back and forth between Idaho and Washington, DC working for a Democratic candidate for Governor, Environmental Defense Fund's oceans program, the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, and the Green Dragon Organic Farm & Greenhouse.

Linnae is pleased that she can put her skills and passion for sustainability into practice with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in an award-winning fashion!

Friday, May 24, 2013


Creating Sustainable Cities is the Focus of Unique Summer Program

Anu_2012_P9 small.jpgA team of leading sustainability authorities from across the globe led by Dr. Anu Ramaswami, Charles M. Denny Jr. Chair Professor of Science Technology & Public Policy, is coordinating a summer school that is training students on solving Asia's most vexing sustainability problems.

The "Sustainable Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities: India" summer program is unique in bringing a cohort of 10 students from four United States universities together with 10 students from Indian universities to learn and work together on building sustainable and healthy cities. The students are trained in widely varying disciplines- mathematics, engineering, environmental science, urban planning and public affairs - all of which are needed to solve the sustainability challenge.

In addition to the Humphrey School, students will learn from leading faculty researchers from Georgia Tech, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado - Denver and Yale. Together, the team with Indian partners - Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, ICLEI-South Asia, the Resource Optimization Initiative, and The Urban Health Research Center - will conduct team-based field work in six Indian cities with populations ranging from 2 to 17 million people. Students will monitor a wide variety of sustainability indicators including human development, resource use, air pollution, and health outcomes, and study key technology, urban planning, and policy solutions to improve these indicators. A similar summer school will take place in China next year.
"This is a one-of-a-kind collaboration from the world's top sustainability experts," said Dr. Ramaswami. "By learning field work, inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and systems thinking skills, students participating in this program will be uniquely positioned to tackle sustainability issues not only in Asia but across the globe."

This summer school is part of an National Science Foundation Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant that focuses on "Developing Low-Carbon Cities in the USA, China & India through Inter-Disciplinary Integration Across Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences & Public Health," led by the University of Minnesota. This PIRE project seeks to develop a transformative international research, education and outreach program to assist in the development of low-carbon, resource-efficient and healthy cities in the US, China and India.

Faculty on this grant have prepared for this summer school in a recent workshop held at the National Academy of Engineering.

Summer school students will be creating a blog on their experiences which can be found here.

Monday, Apr 29, 2013


STEP IMPACT: Student Profile - Whitney Place

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 6.08.26 PM-1.jpg "The MS-STEP program fits my career interests to a 'T,'" says second-year Humphrey student Whitney Place. "I didn't have the political science background coming in so it was crucial for me to have classes on economics and policy analysis while at the same time being part of a cohort that is interested in the same scientific things as I am."
Whitney credits her advisor, Professor Jennifer Kuzma, and Professor Deb Swackhamer as being particularly influential. "The beauty of this program is that access to faculty is there all the time," she says. "Deb's the closest to my issue area. She's always looking to get me into conference's she's attending and introducing me to people."
Whitney's issue area is agricultural policy which isn't surprising since she grew up, as she puts it, "with a cornfield in my backyard" in Okabena, Minnesota, population 188, in the far southwestern part of the state near the Iowa border. Farming is an important part of her family background, with both her family sides running farms since they stepped foot in Minnesota.
She attended the University of Minnesota as an undergraduate majoring in Applied Plant Science with ambitions of becoming a plant breeder. She backed up her work in the classroom by working in the oak breeding research lab for three years as a lab assistant. As, she puts it, "It was a great experience, but I had enough. I didn't want to do laboratory research anymore." And when a classmate pointed her toward the Humphrey School, she jumped at it.
An internship in the governor's office monitoring agricultural legislation led to another internship at the state Department of Agriculture. The state had recently signed an agreement with the federal government focusing on the intersection between agricultural production and water quality. The goal of the new state and federal partnership, called the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program, is to enhance Minnesota's water quality by accelerating the voluntary adoption of on-farm conservation practices. Whitney has been organizing stakeholder advisory committee meetings and public listening sessions across the state. She's also been part of the process to draft legislation and meeting with legislators to advance the program.
She works closely with two recent Humphrey graduates - Brad Hagemeier, an MPP-STEP grad and Katie Wolf, another MS-STEP grad (who ironically was the classmate who referred Whitney to the Humphrey School).
Whitney's hard work has paid off - she'll be starting a full time position working on this program with the department in May. She's thrilled to graduate this spring and hit the ground running applying the knowledge she's gained in the MS-STEP program!

Friday, Mar 29, 2013


Dr. Jennifer Kuzma Quoted in L.A. Times on Genetic Engineering

When is a fish not a fish but a drug? When government regulators take old laws and twist themselves into knots trying to apply them to new technology.

In the emotionally charged battle over the safety and appropriateness of genetically modified foods, people on both sides agree that the way the government oversees genetically modified plants and animals is patchy, inconsistent and at times just plain bizarre.

Soon, analysts say, the system may be stretched to the breaking point. That could leave many genetically modified crops unregulated -- a worry for those who fear environmental and safety risks or who believe that government vetting is key for broad public acceptance.

"It's a bit of a mess," said Jennifer Kuzma, a science policy expert at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Read more here.

Tuesday, Mar 26, 2013


Navigating the Future: Governance and Ethics in the Development of the Emerging Technologies


Wendell Wallach
April 4th, 2:00-3:30pm
RSVP to fateh002@umn.edu

Wendell Wallach is a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale University's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. He chairs the Center's working research group on Technology and Ethics and has been a member of other research groups on
Animal Ethics, End of Life Issues, Neuroethics and PTSD.

Wendell co-authored (with Colin Allen) Moral Machines:Teaching Robots Right From Wrong (Oxford University Press 2009), which maps the new field of enquiry variously called machine ethics, machine morality, computational morality, or friendly AI. Formerly, he was a founder and the President of two computer consulting companies, Farpoint Solutions and Omnia Consulting Inc. Among the clients served by Mr. Wallach's companies were PepsiCo International, United Aircraft, and the State of Connecticut. Wendell also serves on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, CT and is an associate editor for the journal TopiCS in Cognitive Science. He a fellow of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technology, a scholar at The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, and a visiting scholar in 2012-2013 at The Hastings Center. He is presently writing a book on the societal, ethical, and public policy challenges posed by the emerging technologies. Another book in progress explores the ways in which cogitive
science, new technologies, and introspective practices are altering our understanding of
human decision making and ethics.

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Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs or the University of Minnesota. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota or the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.