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letter from the group head


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

While many of us are unsure what is happening to environmental policy and regulation in the United States under the Trump regime, EPP students, faculty and alumni are re-dedicating themselves to action-research, environmental advocacy and environmental dispute resolution efforts at the local level and elsewhere around the world. This spring has been filled with visits from environmental policy specialists from all over, including Asia, Latin America, and Africa, who are focused on combatting climate change, managing flood risks, protecting coastal resources, fighting to preserve fragile ecosystems, increasing reliance on renewable energy, fighting urban displacement, promoting water diplomacy, reducing food waste, advocating socially-responsible real estate development, and pushing hard for environmental justice. The number of faculty members in DUSP now affiliated with EPP continues to grow as concerns about sustainability and resilience cross over into all the other areas of specialization in the Department.

There are lots of individual awards and accomplishments highlighted in this issue of the EPP Newsletter. We are very excited about the addition of three tenured women to the EPP-affiliated faculty — Janelle Knox-Hayes, Siqi Zheng, and Erica James. Janelle’s recent book looks at the financialization of carbon in the global effort to fight climate change. Siqi’s new book looks at air pollution in Beijing and its impact on economic growth. Erica, a medical anthropologist, is engaged in post-disaster and post-trauma response in Haiti.

EPP students have completed another round of exciting and boundary-spanning master’s theses and dissertations. These will be highlighted in the coming months on our EPP web page and in our EPP blog (that goes to all DUSP EPP alumni). MIT’s new Environmental Solutions Initiative and the new campus-wide undergraduate Environment and Sustainability Minor are enhancing enrollment in Course 11 subjects. And having beautiful new teaching, office, and research space in the Sam Tak Lee building has been a real blessing.

We are saying good-bye to a terrific cohort of Malaysia Sustainable Cities Visiting Scholars.  We have invited eight new scholars (from six countries in the Global South) to join us and our partner institution, the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, next year. We have also had close ties this year to the international practitioners and visiting scholars who are part of the SPURS and Humphrey Programs. With support from the Sam Take Lee Laboratory for Real Estate Innovation, we were able to extend our efforts to measure the value of ecosystem services, prepare a video case study of the huge gated community called Forest City in Malaysia, and create a new, online MOOC on Socially-Responsible Real Estate Development that we tested as a blended (i.e. online and face-to-face) course with our colleagues in China.

We congratulate this year’s graduates and welcome all the new students who begin their studies in DUSP/EPP next fall. For those who have time off this summer, enjoy your break. All of us, though, need to do everything we can to preserve America’s commitment to fighting climate change, protecting ecological resources, protecting human and environmental health, and promoting sustainable city development. We need to push hard on our elected and appointed officials to make sure they pay attention to the right things. And we need to do what we can to ensure that peer-reviewed scientific and technical knowledge is not ignored in the push and pull of political decision-making.

Larry Susskind
Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning Head
Environmental Policy and Planning Group (EPP)

EPP Graphic Design

faculty news


Image credit: MIT Press

Janelle Knox-Hayes receives tenure

In early May, the MIT Executive Committee announced Associate Professor Janelle Knox-Hayes’s successful completion of her tenure case. Janelle holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy and a Doctoral degree in Economic Geography from the University of Oxford. She continues to lead international research on the political economy of environmental management, with particular emphasis on the utilization of market mechanisms to govern climate change policy. Janelle’s most recent book, The Culture of Markets: The Political Economy of Climate Governance (Oxford University Press), builds upon this research to conceptualize the impacts of divergent cultures on geographically specific markets.

In addition to teaching “Finance, Geography, and Sustainability,” a graduate seminar examining the relationship between finance and the sustainability of the environment, economy, and social fabric of our communities, Janelle also hosted a semester-long international speaker and workshop series, where global academic leadership came together to begin to crystalize and define the nascent field of financial geography.


Image credit: Michigan State University

Siqi Zheng joins DUSP, CRE, and STL

At the start of the spring term, DUSP was thrilled to have Professor Siqi Zheng join the Department as the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship as well as the Faculty Director at the Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab. Zheng brings her formidable knowledge of China’s urban development, particularly the analyses of housing markets and policy, the environmental impact of urbanization, and the behavioral foundations of development in China. For her research, she draws upon an interdisciplinary approach, leveraging her expertise in economics, urban planning, environmental science, and engineering. In addition to her appointments at DUSP, CRE, and the STL Lab, Zheng is also the Vice General Secretary of the Global Chinese Real Estate Congress and the Vice President of the Asian Real Estate Society.

Professor Zheng has published in many peer-reviewed journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Economic Literature, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Economic Geography, Journal of Urban Economics, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Transportation Research Part A, Environment and Planning A, Ecological Economics, and Real Estate Economics. A book she has co-authored, Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China (Princeton University Press) was published in May 2016. In addition to her English-language work, she has published more than 100 papers and two books in Chinese. Zheng will teach 11.403, “China Urban and Real Estate Research Seminar,” in the Fall semester. In collaboration with David Geltner and Will Wheaton, she is developing two MIT MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses): “Real Estate Finance and Investment,” and “Urban Economics and Real Estate Markets.”


Image credit: Lintao Zhang

Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China (Princeton University Press)

China is currently the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world and contains several of the world's most polluted cities. In Blue Skies over Beijing, Princeton University Press, DUSP's Professor Siqi Zheng and University of Southern California's Matthew E. Kahn look at life in Chinese cities and how residents manage the stresses of pollution. In their book, Kahn and Zheng give particular focus to the narratives about pollution produced by different socioeconomic groups. Urban parents in China have a strong desire to protect their children from environmental risk. Calling for a better quality of life, the rising middle class place pressure on government officials to support greener policies. Using the historical evolution of American cities as a comparison, the authors predict that as China's economy moves away from heavy manufacturing toward cleaner sectors, many of China's cities should experience environmental progress in upcoming decades. Looking at pressing economic and environmental issues in urban China, Blue Skies over Beijing shows that a cleaner China will mean more social stability for the nation and the world. This book won the Honorable Mention for the 2017 PROSE Award in Environmental Science, awarded by the Association of American Publishers. The book has been translated and revised for Chinese audiences by Dr. Zheng, and is being published by CITIC Press in China.


Image credit: MIT Press

Erica James joins DUSP

In June, Erica Caple James joined the faculty of DUSP. James is a medical anthropologist (MA/PhD, Harvard University) who works on community health with a focus on political factors such as the post-conflict transition process, race, gender, and security.  She is the founding director of MIT’s Global Health and Medical Humanities Initiative (GHMHI). She has been a faculty member at MIT in the Department of Anthropology since 2004 and joins DUSP as an Associate Professor of Medical Anthropology and Urban Studies. She strengthens the department's ability to address community health and planning from multiple disciplines. James also brings her GHMHI Initiative, which will allow DUSP to centralize and lead MIT’s efforts in community health.

James has done extensive work internationally with a focus on communities, democratization, race, and human rights. This coming fall she will teach a course on the "Ethics of Intervention" (11.238J). Her other courses will focus on research methods and her new research trajectory addressing the worldwide nutritional insecurity (food and water) resulting from climate change. She will be affiliated with IDG, HCED, and EPP.


Image credit: 11.011 MIT Student

New HASS Concentration, Leadership and Negotiation

Responding to high student demand for more semester-long subjects that teach skills in leadership and negotiation through a pedagogy that is highly interactive and involves tailored coaching, MIT’s Dean of Undergraduate Education entrusted EPP’s Bruno Verdini and Lawrence Susskind with leading the collaborative efforts among the five MIT Schools to create an interdisciplinary, MIT-wide Concentration in Negotiation and Leadership. In close partnership with the School of Engineering, Sloan, and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and building on Susskind’s expertise as a founder of the field and Vice-Chair of Pedagogy at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, the responsibility is to identify, update, and develop MIT classes, as well as enhance and generate new materials. Emphasizing a pedagogy that focuses on “mind, hand, and heart,” the collaborative effort involves an innovative partnership between faculty, students, and alumni, with Verdini leading a team of over 20 MIT undergraduates (from over 50 candidates) across 10 different departments (with additional insights from fraternities and sororities across campus), contributing to shaping the goals, substance, and structure of the concentration.


Image credit: Romain Guy

Winning Together: The Natural Resource Negotiation Playbook (MIT Press)

Transboundary natural resource negotiations, often conducted in an atmosphere of a legacy of mistrust and confrontation, can go on for decades. In his forthcoming book, EPP’s Bruno Verdini outlines an approach by which government, private sector, and nongovernmental stakeholders can overcome grievances, break the status quo, trade across differences, and create mutual gains in high-stakes water, energy, and environmental negotiations. Verdini examines two landmark negotiations between the United States and Mexico. The two cases—one involving conflict over shared hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico and the other involving disputes over the shared waters of the Colorado River—resulted in groundbreaking agreements in 2012, after decades of deadlock. The research offers detailed accounts from multiple points of view, on both sides of the border, by drawing upon extensive interviews with more than seventy high-ranking negotiators in the United States and Mexico—from presidents and ambassadors to general managers, technical experts, and nongovernmental advocates. Building upon the theoretical and empirical findings, Verdini offers advice for practitioners in developed and developing countries, on effective negotiation and dispute resolution strategies that avoid the presumption that there are not enough resources to go around, and that one side must win and the other must inevitably lose. This investigation is the winner of Harvard Law School’s Howard Raiffa Award for best research of the year in negotiation, mediation, decision-making, and dispute resolution. MIT Press will publish the book in November of 2017.


Image credit: South America Risk Assessment project

Assessing social vulnerability in Argentine provinces and cities

In late May, Professors Gabriella Carolini and Mariana Arcaya, along with and SPURS fellow, Esteban Otto Thomasz, will lead a workshop with researchers and practitioners from Boston, Cambridge, Medford, and Somerville, to debate objectives, methods, and values of designing a social vulnerability assessment at the local scale.  Currently, such assessments provide aggregate data that can mask spatial, economic, and social inequalities important to shaping how local public policies address vulnerabilities, particularly within a context of climate change.  The workshop will consider different collection methods and types of data that can help unveil local-level levers needed to tackle social vulnerability within cities. The results of the discussion will be used to design and launch a parallel project on social vulnerability surveying in the context of climate change across Argentine provinces and cities.


Image credit: MIT News

J. Phillip Thompson leads DUSP Faculty and Students in project on revitalizing Central Brooklyn

In early March 2017, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a $1.4 billion state plan to revitalize Central Brooklyn. Called “Vital Brooklyn,” the initiative includes a $700 million investment in health care. J. Phillip Thompson, associate professor of urban studies and planning at MIT, was instrumental in shaping this comprehensive approach to health. An urban planner and political scientist who focuses on race, community development, and health, Thompson worked for New York’s Mayor David Dinkins in the early 1990s and has long worked with labor unions and community groups. Mariana Arcaya, now an assistant professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), and about a dozen students from DUSP also participated in various stages of the research. From analyzing data, speaking with health experts, and surveying the various community groups, the DUSP contingent identified why the area continued to need a hospital and where the hospital had room to improve to meet the needs of its constituents. They also mapped a larger trend of chronic diseases attributable to poverty and unemployment — such as asthma, obesity, hypertension, substance abuse. Thompson and Arcaya argue for the need for community empowerment and involvement in the management of the local hospital and a new community health network as a mechanism for helping both the economic and health issues of Central Brooklyn.


Image credit: Penn State College of Arts and Architecture

Collaborative Creative Resistance

In the Fall of 2017, visiting artist Stephen Carpenter will join DUSP as a MIT Center for the Art, Science, and Technology (CAST) Artist in Residence. As a result of a successful proposal submitted by Professor Lawrence Susskind, Carpenter will come to DUSP on September 28-30th, October 5th-7th, and November 16th-18th to lead three participatory performances entitled Collaborative Creative Resistance. These performances are a form of public pedagogy in response to the global water crisis and will included demonstrations of Carpenter’s work with Potters without Borders where he creates ceramic filters to easily convert polluted water into potable water at a very low cost. Carpenter’s performances will challenge and inspire entrepreneurially orientated students to explore using existing technologies to address fundamental social problems while generating self-sustaining social entrepreneurship focused businesses.

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Image credit: Hans Kemp

EPP Lunch Speaker Series

This Spring Semester, EPP was fortunate to host three stellar lunch time discussions with distinguished faculty across and outside the institute. The current EPP lunch series has focused on exploring and demonstrating the connections and opportunities for cross collaboration from across and beyond the institute for DUSP students. A short summary of the three events are listed bellow, complete footage from the lunch series will be available on the DUSP YouTube Channel shortly.

Hidden Linkages between Urbanization and Food Systems: Chinese and Global Transitions
From croplands to landfills, urban systems co-evolve with food systems. Rapidly urbanizing regions must systematically contend with agricultural land loss, increased meat consumption, diet diversification, and shifting patterns of food access and storage. Guest speaker Karen Seto joined DUSP for a joint Environmental Policy and Planning/Sam Tak Lee Lab discussion on how urbanization science and urban planning can inform debates over food security and sustainability.

Karen Seto is the Associate Dean of Research, Director of Doctoral Studies, and a Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is an established leader in the area of urbanization and global change, with experience founding, chairing, and researching for groups such as Urbanization and Global Environmental Change, International Human Dimensions Programme, Future Earth, the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, the US National Research Council Committee to Advise U.S. Global Change Research Program, the NRC Committee on Pathways to Urban Sustainability, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Karen was the executive producer of 10,000 Shovels: Rapid Urban Growth in China, a documentary integrating multiple mediums and tools to highlight urban changes in China.

Wars Change Everything: World War II, Food, and Agriculture in America
The military demands of World War II had a profound effect on both farming and eating in America. The demands on the domestic supply of food for soldiers was unprecedented, with troops in 23 different climatic zones internationally dependent on American supplies. The U.S. was also supplying food to the Allies, another huge demand on domestic supplies. The war created several surprising challenges to American food production and diet. First, in order to ensure that the military received the food it needed, the government created new ways of managing the country's food supply, with lasting consequences for the farm sector. Second, war-time demands for farm products pushed farmers further away from diversified agricultural and toward mono-cropping. And third, the post-war glut of raw materials, particularly grains and dairy, set the stage for one of the most important 20th century innovations; the processing industry's creation and dominance of time-insensitive foods. Guest Speaker, Deborah Fitzgerald, former dean of Kenan Sahin School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), led an EPP Lunch Seminar exploring her new research and highlighting the opportunities for collaboration across SHASS and DUSP.

Sustainability at MIT: Building a Next Generation Platform
Higher education has often been a catalyst in driving both national and global innovation and sweeping shifts in cultural norms. Today, MIT seeks to transform our campus in yet another demonstration of MIT's ability to marshal knowledge in addressing the world's great challenges. Today we seek to develop a vision for a Sustainable Campus that is uniquely grounded in the trans-disciplinary, problem-solving ethos of the MIT culture, yet uniquely shaped by its integration with the City of Cambridge and service to the world. In 2013 the MIT Office of Sustainability was launched and set out to transform the campus into a powerful model that generates new and proven ways of responding to the unprecedented challenges of a changing planet via operational excellence, education, research and innovation on our campus. By accessing the campus as a living laboratory, MIT seeks to expose students to cutting edge and scalable sustainability challenges and solutions via opportunities for applied research on campus and beyond the borders. Guest speaker Julie Newman, Director and Founder of the Office of Sustainability, discussed the process of launching a next generation platform for campus sustainability at MIT and the future role of DUSP students and faculty in this process.


Image credit: Zul Ismail

MSCP Scholars Lunch Series

Building upon research conduct over the fall term of 2016, MSCP Visiting Scholars gave short lunch presentations answering such questions as; How can a developing nation balance urban development goals with flooding resilience at the local level? Is community engagement with disaster preparedness been an effective strategy? How are the lives of residents in and around culturally protected areas, including economic, social and architectural considerations affected? How does tax law, land classification, and the goals of Government-Linked Private Companies influence decision-making on wetlands conservation? What factors influence the success or failure of the working and living conditions of unskilled workers migrant labor in Malaysia? Can Kuala Lumpur preserve urban green space while still accommodating it’s populations residency needs? What lessons are to be learned from stakeholder engagement in transportation planning when broad efforts to engage fall short of actual public consultation? Can community engagement in the process of redeveloping help to achieve the dual goals of economic development while preserving the local cultural values? The full collection of these presentations is available online.


Image credit: Anna Doty

Reflections on the Experience of being a MCP at DUSP through the Lens of RES/CON

In March, five DUSP master in city planning (MCP) students, Sam Jung (‘17), Alaa Mukahhal (‘17), Insiyah Mohammad (‘17), Carey Dunfey (‘17), and Anna Doty (‘17), attended Res/Con New Orleans​'s Global Resilience Summit. RES/CON is the premier annual international conference on the practice of successful resilience and disaster management in an evolving global environment. The DUSP MCPs sat in on panels ranging from issues related to the future of the National Flood Insurance Program to rural economic sustainability, from financing resiliency measures to transforming city systems. Responding to their time at the conference they said, "We connected with city planners in the private and public sectors, chatted with recent DUSP grads, and heard insight from emergency managers working in diverse sectors across the country. We left feeling inspired by the talented and dedicated practitioners working tirelessly in this field and excited by the prospect of being able to contribute to creating solutions to resiliency and disaster management challenges faced by cities big and small.” To read more of their reflections, read the full perspective via an Environmental Policy Planning blog post here.


Image credit: Dawn Colquitt-Anderson

MIT Day of Action

At grass-roots Day of Action event, MIT students, faculty, and others tackle political, economic, and social challenges with civic engagement. More than 1,000 participants came together at MIT on Tuesday, April 18, to discuss approaches to and solutions for a broad range of political, economic, and social challenges. The Day of Action/Day of Engagement—organized by a network of faculty and students from across the campus—covered a diverse range of topics including: the possibility of nuclear war; the ambiguous fate of truth in modern media; climate change; growing wealth disparity; polarization of political discourse; inequalities in education and economic opportunity; criminal justice reform; immigration; and many more.

“Now, more than at any time in my memory, people are asking, ‘What can I do?’” says Roger Levy, an associate professor of brain and cognition sciences and one of the lead organizers. “For so many MIT students, postdocs, staff, faculty, and local community members to devote a day of their lives to address the political, social, and economic challenges of today, provides a visceral answer. It shows what we can do, together.”

The day featured a diverse range of organizers from across MIT, from student groups to academic powerhouses from the faculty. The goal for the nearly 80 separate sessions, organizers say, was to offer participants the opportunity to deepen knowledge, gaining greater insight into pressing issues of the times as well as reflecting and learning from their own daily behavior, build skills to engage with difficult topics and situations effectively, and take action—doing what MIT does best, innovating to solve problems in the moment.

The day built upon the successful Princeton University Day of Action held on March 6, 2017, and the historic leadership demonstrated in MIT’s March 4 Movement of 1969. MIT’s March 4 Movement was championed by MIT graduate students, challenging and opening a discussion about the normative view of science and the role of a scientist in society at the time; that of science in an academic vacuum, without accountability for the real-world applications of innovations and research. The Day of Action represented the diversity of the campus and wider community, driven by commitment to open, respectful dialogue and the exchange of ideas from the widest variety of intellectual, religious, class, cultural, and political perspectives.


Image credit: Romain Guy

Finance, Geography, Sustainability Series and Workshops

Organized and facilitated by Associate Professor Janelle Knox-Hayes and PhD Candidates Jung WooChung and Shekhar Chandra, the Finance, Geography, Sustainability series and workshops brought together leading thinkers to address the crucially important relationship between finance, geography, and sustainability over the entire Spring semester. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis there can be little question of the importance of finance in the modern political economy. At the same time, the increasing significance of geographically grounded patterns of wealth and development inequality highlights the need for scholars and policymakers to address the relationship between finance and geography. Finally, the growing penetration of financial models and logics into environmental policy combined with the escalating consequences of environmental degradation (e.g. climate change) underlines the urgency of scholarly study on the linkage between sustainability and finance. The workshop and speaker series broke new ground, bringing these three issues together in a unique exploration of their interconnections.

The speaker series featured five presenters and four respondents over four lunch events and the workshops featured eleven panel presentations from an international gathering of academics and practitioners in the field. If you missed any of these events, all the speaker series and panel presentations are available online, here.

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awards + accouncements


Image credit: MIT Press

NeuroMesh Earns First Runner-Up in MIT 100K Accelerate

As the omnipresence of and resultant increased dependency on smart devices accelerates, so does the security risks associated with the internet of things (IoT). NeuroMesh, a managed security solution providing cybersecurity for internet-connected devices, works to provide cybersecurity for IoT products, which are often produced with minimal consideration for the vulnerabilities they create in a network. DUSP PhD Candidate, Gregory Falco who co-founded NeuroMesh with Caleb Li (Sloan MBA ’17) presented their prototype at the MIT 100K Accelerate Competition finals, the second of three annual MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition events. NeuroMesh acts as a vaccine for IoT devices and functions similarly to malware, but instead of producing ill effects, NeuroMesh strengthens and supports the device by destroying harmful programs and blacklisting access to potential hacks. Of the 127 applications to MIT 100K Accelerate, NeuroMesh earned the runner-up, garnering a $3,000.00 prize for the team.


Image credit: Harvard University

Kara Runsten Awarded Rappaport Public Policy Fellowship

The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston encourages graduate students to spend part of their careers in public service through a paid, 10-week summer internship in key state and local agencies in the Greater Boston area. Fellows, who represent all graduate schools in Greater Boston, participate in a weekly seminar series with leading practitioners and scholars and receive a stipend for the summer. The fellowship program is a key component of The Rappaport Institute, which aims to improve the governance of Greater Boston by promoting emerging leaders, stimulating informed discussion, and producing new ideas.In previous years, fellows have worked on a diverse range of projects that include: school reform plans, environmental risk assessment, public-private partnerships, community development projects, performance-management systems, racial bias in the juvenile justice system, health coverage for foster children, and reduction plans for greenhouse gases. Kara’s policy interests include issues affecting coastal cities and communities, particularly how these places are dealing with the complexities of climate change. Because most of her experience to date has been on the federal level, she is hoping the Rappaport Fellowship will allow her to gain insight on the role of local and state government in shaping these communities’ futures.


Image credit: MIT Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability

Parrish Bergquist and Hannah Teicher Selected as Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability

The Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability is a community of MIT doctoral students pursuing sustainability research in a wide array of fields and topics. Each year faculty members from across MIT nominate a single outstanding doctoral student for review. Martin Fellows receive full funding for two semesters of study at MIT and join a community of students and alumni dedicated to advancing environmental and social sustainability. The Martin Fellows program was established in 1997, and has over 300 distinguished alumni in academia, private industry, and governmental roles.

image of Parrish BergquistParrish Bergquist is a doctoral candidate at MIT’s departments of Political Science and Urban Studies & Planning. She studies public opinion, political parties, and political representation in the United States, with a focus on state politics and the environment. Her dissertation project addresses the relationship between elite-partisan and public attitudes about environmental protection, and asks why the relationship between party positions and public attitudes varies across political issues. She is also working on two collaborative projects, one of which examines public attitudes about energy transmission infrastructure. The second assesses whether changes in temperature and other climatic indicators influence the public’s views about climate change. The Martin Family Fellowship will allow her to compile original datasets to measure historical changes in state-level public opinion and party positions. Her DUSP advisor Justin Steil and her political science advisor Chris Warshaw nominated her for the fellowship.

image of Hannah TeicherHannah M. Teicher is researching how urban/military collaborations shape adaptation to climate change in governance and built form, which offers one angle for studying how urban areas may partner with powerful institutions and unlikely allies in addressing mitigation and adaptation. In a previous project, she examined the role of large real estate firms in developing autonomous adaptation strategies. Before coming to MIT, she conducted applied research on electric vehicle infrastructure with the UBC Transportation Infrastructure and Public Space lab and practiced architecture in Vancouver, BC, taking a leading role on green residential and community buildings. The Martin Family Fellowship will allow her the time to conduct multiple rounds of fieldwork and analysis for her dissertation. Her advisor, Brent D. Ryan, nominated her for the fellowship.

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alumni news


Image credit: Raymond Jones, Salt Lake City

EPP Doctoral Alumni Recent Publications

Building upon work and research interests developed during their time at DUSP, a significant cohort of PhD alumni have published papers and books in 2016-2017. DUSP is a community for life, if you are an alumni and have recently published, please email Takeo Kuwabara so we can continue to champion your excellent scholastic endeavors.

Eric Jay Dolin
Eric Jay Dolin is a bestselling author of books on American history, maritime history, wildlife, and the environment. Dolin earned his PhD from DUSP in 1995, exploring remedial adjudication through the lens of the case study of the Boston Harbor. Working with Patrick Field (DUSP MCP '94), managing director of the Consensus Building Institute, Dolin contributed to the Ocean Planning in the Northeast. The plan charts the future for ocean management in New England and is the first regional ocean plan in the nation. The entire plan may be accessed here.

Kelly Heber Dunning
Dr. Heber Dunning is currently the Head of Mapping at the Rainforest Foundation UK, she is responsible for overseeing all participatory mapping work in forest communities in five Congo Basin Countries including the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, and Gabon. She works closely with communities, Central African civil society, and ministry officials, to ensure rainforest communities have rights to their forests. This includes an emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples in the Congo Basin. In addition to her adventurous day job, Heber-Dunning has recently published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, where she applies policy implementation theory to analyze failures in the United States attempts to restore ecosystems through adaptive management.

Kelly Heber Dunning (2016) "Missing the trees for the forest? Bottom-up policy implementation and adaptive management in the US natural resource bureaucracy", Journal of Environmental Planning and Management

Danya Lee Rumore
Dr. Rumore is the associate director of the Environmental Dispute Resolution Program at the College of Law at the University of Utah, a research assistant professor at the College of Law and a research assistant professor of City and Metropolitan Planning both at the University of Utah. She recently published three journal articles and contributed to a book chapter, focused on joint fact finding, interactive governance, and the use of serious games to enhance communities' ability to adapt to difficult problems.

Czaika, E., D. Rumore, and T. Schenk (2016) Finding the Facts about Joint Fact-Finding: Criteria and Approaches for Rigorous Evaluation, Joint Fact Finding in Urban Planning and Environmental Disputes

Rumore, D., T. Schenk, and L. Susskind (2016) Enhancing Communities’ Readiness to Adapt to Climate Change Through Role-Play Simulations, Nature Climate Change

Schenk, T., E. Czaika, M. Russo, and D. Rumore (2016) Joint Fact Finding: An Approach for Advancing Interactive Governance When Scientific and Technical Information Is in Question, in Edelenbos and van Meerkert (eds.) Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance

Todd Schenk
Dr. Schenk is an assistant professor of urban affairs and planning at the School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech. He also leads a weekly series called #CivilityVT, providing the venue with established ground rules and guidelines for conversations across differences on a variety of contentious issues such as the role of undocumented and non-citizens in our communities, race in the context of university and community policies, and religions role in the academic environment. He has been asked to join the advisory board of a new Center for Communicating Science at Virginia Tech. In all of these endeavors, Schenk credits his experiences acting as the assistant director of the Science Impact Collaborative at MIT as playing a large role in the evolution of new initiatives. In addition to all these responsibilities, Schenk coedited a new book with another DUSP Alumn on Joint Fact Finding and co-wrote (with another DUSP alum) a chapter for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia on Climate Science.

Matsuura, M., T. Schenk (2016) Joint Fact-Finding in Urban Planning and Environmental Disputes

Chu, E., T. Schenk (2016) Communicating About Climate Change with Urban Populations and Decision-Makers, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science

Leah Stokes
Stokes is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a co-director of the Scholars Strategy Network Working Group on Energy and Climate. Her four recent publications demonstrate Stoke's mastery of political science and urban planning as well as the strong ties she continues to hold with MIT

Selin, N. E., Stokes, L. C., Susskind, L. E. (2016). "The Need for Climate Science Education to Build Policy Literacy." WIREs Climate Change

Stokes, L. C., Giang, A., Selin, N. E. (2016). "Splitting the South: China and India's Divergence in Global Environmental Negotiations." Global Environmental Politics

Stokes, L. C. (2016). "Electoral Backlash against Climate Policy: A Natural Experiment on Retrospective Voting and Local Resistance to Public Policy." American Journal of Political Science

Mildenberger, M., Howe P., Lachapelle, E., Stokes, L. C.,Marlon, J., Gravelle, T. (2016) "The Distribution of Climate Change Public Opinion in Canada." PlosONE

Mattijs van Maasakkers
Van Maasakkers is an assistant professor in the City and Regional Planning Section at the Knowlton School at Ohio State University. His latest book draws and builds upon his dissertation research, examining why very few of the ecosystem service markets in the United States have succeeded despite academic support, governmental funding, and efforts by public-private partnerships. Utilizing interviews, policy analysis, and participatory observation, Van Maasakkers identifies three key problematic elements in ecosystem service markets.

Van Maasakkers, T. (2016) The Creation of Markets for Ecosystem Services in the United States The Challenge of Trading Places

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theses + dissertations


Image credit: Takeo Kuwabara

Terra ex Machina: Land Building and the Breach of Property Regimes

Land building, the process of infilling to produce developable dryland, is increasingly becoming a staple of large-scale real estate development projects. Land building provides multiple benefits to developers in the form of bypassing land acquisition, unencumbered property, and as an ideal mechanism for pure market uses. In his thesis, Nick Allen posits the building of new land is a 'geo-hack,' which exploits unsound assumptions of property regimes, resulting in the creation of novel risks for all stakeholders by fully exposing land to commodity markets.


Image credit: Pamela Bellavita Carvajal

Food grows where water flows: Securing water for agricultural production in a drought-stricken California

The state of California carries a large percentage of the national food security as it is responsible for a considerable amount of the agricultural production consumed in the United States but faces increasing challenges from climate change. In her thesis, Pamela Bellavita Carvajal explores how the spatial distribution and interaction of hydrological resources, geological features, climate patterns, topography and water infrastructure impact agricultural production in the Central Valley in California, purposing multiple location specific options to increase resiliency.


Image credit: Matt Green

Buyouts as Resiliency Planning in Post-Sandy New York City

After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, land buyout programs became an important element in storm recovery for New York State. In response to resident advocacy, the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery initiated a neighborhood-based buyout on the East Shore of Staten Island through the New York Rising storm recovery program. New York City declined to participate, but offered to acquire storm-damaged homes in other areas where the New York State buyout was not offered with the intention to resell privately with the stipulation of new flood resistant building standards. In contrast, New York State purchased land was legally bound to be held as open space in perpetuity, serving as a buffer for inland areas and establishing resiliency along vulnerable coastlines. In her thesis, Sonja Boet-Whitaker analyzes the success of the state program to create an effective buffer area to protect its citizens.


Image credit: Hongru Cai 

Decoding Sponge City in Shenzhen: Resilience Program or Growth Policy?

Rapid, dense, and intense urbanization and the increase of extreme weather events has increased the risks of natural disasters in China. In an effort to address these risks, China inited a national comprehensive solution for alternative urban water management, "Sponge City." In his thesis, Hongru Cai examines the two veins of implementation for "Sponge City," the implementation fo a distributed resilience program and the justification of investments in the urban construction sector under public-private partnerships.


Image credit: Getty Images

Fireline, Divided: Labor Representation of Unionized and Incarcerated Firefighters in California’s Wildlands

In California, up to 40% of the state’s firefighters are incarcerated people working in a prison labor program called the Conservation Camp Program, more commonly known as "fire camps." Despite incarcerated firefighters providing approximately three million person hours per year, these individuals are paid between $2 a day or $2 per hour if they are actively fighting a fire. In her thesis, Anna Doty, interrogates labor market dynamics contributing to organized labor's compliance with the incarcerated labor program and the implications of a divided workforce, both for the workers themselves as well as the larger system of California's fire management system and it's criminal justice policy.


Image credit: Jessie Heneghan

Building Resiliency or Holding off the Inevitable? Climate Adaptation on a Dense Barrier Island in New York

Resiliency from the impacts of climate change has become an urgent need for low-lying coastal towns and cities. In her thesis, Jessie Heneghan adopts a 'safe to fail' lens to analyze adaptation efforts in Long Beach, NY. That is to say, she creates a conceptual framework anticipating and designed for failures through redundancy and shared risks.


Image credit: Sam Jung

A Just Transition: Energy Democracy, Community Choice Aggregation, and the (Im)possibilities of Change

Proponents of a Just Transition —a transformation of the current fossil fuel-based system into place-based, sustainable, equitable, and democratically controlled economies— have attempted to capture the potential of changes to the generation, distribution, transmission, and storage of electricity to realize a low-carbon electricity system through new and more equitable electricity generation and procurement models. In his thesis, Sam Jung examines the barriers to realizing community choice aggregation, and how can we transform those challenges into opportunities for deepening civic engagement, and community wealth for (low-income) communities (of color) to further realize a vision of a just transition.


Image credit: Fernando Madrazo Vega

Residential Distributed Electricity Generation in Mexico: A Look into Current Policies and Regulations and Suggestions to Incentivize its Deployment

Mexico, a country, who in 2015 generated over 80% of its electricity through fossil fuel, has adopted an aggressive energy reform with goals of reducing its green house gas emissions by 34% in 2050. The path towards the compounding reductions in green house gas emissions is made more complicated because of the unique climate and sociodemographic conditions both supporting and obfuscating clean energy technologies adopts into Mexico's energy network. Despite the proven superior performance of renewable energy sources in Mexico, there are significant economic barriers preventing wide spread adoption across the population.

In his thesis, Fernando Madrazo Vega delves into the policy and regulation of clean distributed electricity generation in Mexico and recommends how a diverse group of stakeholders might promote residential based electrical generation systems without burdening the energy sector.


Image credit: David Musselman

Evaluating the Effect an Anchor Institution Can Have on a Small Shrinking City: A Case Study of Albion College and Albion, MI

In his thesis, David Musselman explores the role of a small liberal arts college, Albion College, in resisting the shrinking of the city of Albion, MI. By identifying and codifying key issues of engagement, David is able to classify how Albion College is acting as an anchor institution for the city, where it is succeeding in acting as a convener, leader in community engagement, and building capacity throughout its community. He continues by analyzing the effectiveness of these revitalization efforts.


Image credit: Lee Kyung-Min, Korea IT Times

Understanding Political Pressures to Shutdown Nuclear Power Plants in the United States and South Korea

The initial nuclear power plants began to reach their designed lifespans, yet many have had their operating licenses extended through regulator safety and environmental impact assessment considerations. The process of the regulatory reviews have become controversial in both the United States and South Korea. In her thesis, Nah Yoon Shin, scries for the reason for the similarities in the controversy surrounding the review process despite differences in regulatory framework, electricity markets, safety requirements, and public participation in relicensing decisions.


Image credit: Shin Bin Tan

Do school-going children with more active modes of morning commutes walk more throughout the day?

Empirical health studies suggest individuals respond to activity interventions by reducing their activity levels throughout the remainder of their day. Is this trend in activity shared by students who boost their physical activity in the morning during their commute to school? In her thesis, Shin Bin Tan, leverages a comprehensive data set of 7,700 Singaporean students and three statistical approaches to identify relationships between data points, to examine the physical activity levels of students who are driven to school versus students who walk or take public transportation to school.