Tufts MPP Alumni Panel
| April 11, 2016 | 12:57 pm | M.P.P., Tufts | Comments closed

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 12.54.22 PM

Last week UEP hosted an event for current, former, and prospective students in the mid-career Master of Public Policy program. The event, hosted at the Tufts Interfaith Center, was an opportunity for MPP and MA students to hear more about reasons for entering the program and how it has helped them in their careers. Since 2002, the MPP program has been helping local practitioners to enhance their professional practice, pursue career shifts, and find a space for reflection and rejuvenation.


  • Mary Ann Crayton (2007) – Senior Director of Community Engagement for Boston Public Schools
  • Doug Cress (2013) – Director of Health and Human Services Department for the City of Somerville
  • Allentza Michel (2015) – Founder & Principal of Powerful Pathways Consulting
  • Elaine Ng (2014) – Director of Strategic Planning and Special Education at Boston Public Schools
  • Alex Oliver-Davila (2013) – Executive Director of Sociedad Latina and member of the Boston School Committee
From Left: Current M.P.P. students Maria Ortiz and Sibu Malaba, M.P.P. alumni Alex Oliver-Davila (2013), Elaine Ng (2014), Doug Kress (2013), Allentza Michel (2015), and Mary Ann Crayton (2007)

From Left: Current M.P.P. students Maria Ortiz and Sibu Malaba, M.P.P. alumni Alex Oliver-Davila (2013), Elaine Ng (2014), Doug Kress (2013), Allentza Michel (2015), and Mary Ann Crayton (2007)

Since 2002, 130 students have enrolled in the MPP program, which is a 1-year full-time or 2-3 year part-time degree program, flexible to suit work constraints. The curriculum focuses on program evaluation, negotiations, Geographic Information Systems, financial management, philanthropy and fundraising.

Nearly 30% of MPPers are over 45 years of age, with the median age being 38. 47% of enrolling MPP students from 2002-2013 have been people of color and 60% have been women. 69% are employed full-time and 21% part-time. MPP is known as a social justice and community-oriented professional public policy program for students bringing at least 7 years of relevant professional experience working on issues like affordable housing, neighborhood development, social welfare, sustainable communities, and environmental management. More information about the program can be found here.

Susan Buckingham: Why Climate Change Is a Gendered Issue
| April 7, 2016 | 9:54 am | Colloquium | Comments closed

Feminist geographer, consultant, and former Brunel University professor Susan Buckingham visited UEP’s weekly colloquium yesterday to present her work on the links between gender and environmental issues. Her forthcoming book, Understanding Climate Change through Gender Relations will deal with climate change as a product and amplifier of social inequalities. Even in the realm of current environmental justice dialogues, she claims, gender is not adequately addressed.


http://www.susanbuckingham.org /#!books/cee5

One theme of her discussion was climate change as violence, with a disproportionate effect on women and girls. In an example from Bangladesh, 90% of deaths in a 1991 flood were women and girls. Refugee camps across the world are predominantly populated by women. In cases of refugees seeking asylum, rules dictate that asylum-seekers can’t work. This, according to Buckingham, produces a large number of bored, broke, mostly female refugees, many of whom end up turning to sex work.

The UN recognized the gendered component of climate change in 1992, when they incorporated gender equality into their development goals. Since the COP 18 in Doha, representatives have worked toward gender balance in negotiations. There is a generally accepted idea that once female representation reaches 30%, there will be a shift in balance and approaches to dealing with environmental issues. The problem with this line of thinking is that, like many movements, the environmental movement has tended to be “hypermasculine.” Many of the women being promoted to leadership positions have ended up there because of their willingness to follow this mentality.

Women in environmental movement marketing are predominantly portrayed in a sexualized way (think PETA’s “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign) or as victims, which they often are. Meanwhile, men are portrayed as courageous heroes.

Hypermasculine environmental activism http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/19/greenpeace-ship-arctic-sunrise-detained-in-spain

Hypermasculine environmental activism
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/19/ greenpeace-ship-arctic-sunrise-detained-in-spain

According to standpoint theory, the most disadvantaged people are the best equipped to critique the system and should be involved in changing it. Currently, 90% of environmental nonprofit executive directors are men and 99% are white. This has led to blindspots in strategic approaches and a lack of understanding around the intersections between race, gender and environmental issues.

Susan Buckingham’s presentation can be found here:Tufts_BuckinghamPowerPoint

Sustainable Aquaculture: The Seaweed Industry in New England
| April 1, 2016 | 2:36 pm | Tufts Environmental Studies Department | Comments closed


On Thursday, the Tufts Environmental Studies department was visited by Lindsay Green, a PhD and researcher focused on seaweed physiology, aquaculture and ecology. Aquaculture refers to the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, shellfish, and seaweed. World aquaculture has been expanding by about 10% per year for decades, with most of that consisting of fish. Approximately 1/4 of current aquaculture production consists of plants and seaweed. Despite this growth, the U.S. accounts for only 1% of aquaculture production, which contributes to its over $10billion trade deficit for seafood. China, on the other hand, produced 23.8 million tons of seaweed alone in 2012. China and Indonesia together make up 81.4% of global seaweed aquaculture production.

In New England, the majority of the aquaculture industry is in shellfish.  However, there are a few companies in Maine growing both kelp and dulse on a commercial scale. Much of this is intended for direct consumption, but seaweed is also valuable for its use in biomedical applications, textiles, animal feeds, and agricultural crop enhancement.

Porphyra umbilicalis, the nori seaweed from your sushi

Porphyra umbilicalis, the nori seaweed from your sushi*













Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture

IMTA is a system in which the potentially environmentally harmful effects of fish aquaculture are used to enhance production of shellfish and seaweed aquaculture. Waste materials from one species serve as food or fertilizer for the next, creating a loop of healthy and sustainable aquaculture.

IMTA: Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture

IMTA: Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture****

Green’s research has focused on optimizing seaweed production for conditions found off the New England coast. She found that local seaweed and kelp species tend to grow more rapidly under long exposure to sunlight, by phycobilins (good pigments) and protein tend to develop more with less sunlight. These are all important components of a quality seaweed product, so Green suggested a short, heavily lit production cycle followed by a “finishing off” period of relative darkness. This would allow optimal growth with an opportunity to produce pigments and proteins.

Keep your eyes open for locally grown seaweed! It can be grown sustainably in our delicate ocean ecosystems and there is already a huge market for it in other parts of the world. Could kelp be the next kale?





Felicia Sullivan: Social Network Analysis as an Evaluation Tool
| March 18, 2016 | 3:27 pm | Colloquium | Comments closed

The Case of Indiana Humanities


http://civicyouth.org/research/HAC/ UEP_SpringColloquia_FMS_regarding%20HAC.pdf

UEP’s weekly colloquium was visited this by Felicia Sullivan, senior researcher at the Center for Information Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at the Johnathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. Sullivan spoke about social network analysis (SNA), and specifically how knowledge about networks can be used to inform policy, build coalition capacity, strengthen social environments, and improve connectivity. Since the 1950s SNA has been a core concept and methodological way to look at social patterns. It allows social structures to be visualized in a way that displays the types of relationships within the network.

In a report released in 2014, Sullivan used SNA to map the “ecosystem” of humanities in the state of Indiana. 2,147 surveys were sent out, with 390 network participants responding.

Indiana's Humanities Social Network http://www.indianahumanities.org/pdf/HAC-ICS-Survey-Report.pdf

Indiana’s Humanities Social Network

Researchers looked at the size and structure of network members, the central organizations, key bridge-forming organizations, and used that to assess the resiliency of the network as a whole. Findings showed a massive web of relationships, most of which were clustered around urban areas of Indianapolis and Gary, as well as some of the suburbs of Louisville, KY. The social structure of the network is centered around the Indiana Historical Society, with Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Humanities acting as key bridging organizations. On the outer areas of the SNA diagram below, much smaller networks and individual organizations exist without any connection to the broader network.

A Large But Vulnerable Network http://www.indianahumanities.org/pdf/HAC-ICS-Survey-Report.pdf

A Large But Vulnerable Network

According to Sullivan, these features make the Indiana Humanities Network vulnerable if one of the central organizations were to fail. If Indiana Landmarks disappeared, huge portions of the network would lose all connection. She recommends strengthening the core hub and building bonds between the central portion and new bridge organizations.

For those interested in using Social Network Analysis in their own research, Sullivan suggests to start with Gephi, free software that works on PC, Mac and Linux. More information about Felicia Sullivan’s work and the Tisch College can be found here.

UEP Song and Story Night: Pt. 2
| March 17, 2016 | 3:09 pm | Events, SPA | Comments closed


UEP hosted its second ever Song and Story Night last Friday! Students and faculty gathered around 6pm to hear about “Time in the Field: Stories of Work, Jobs and Internships.” The event was organized by UEP’s Student Planning and Policy Association to give students and faculty an opportunity to express themselves outside of the classroom. At Song and Story Night, they can show off their musical talents and storytelling skills, and get to know a little more about the experiences of their fellow classmates.

Host and UEP student Mason Wells starting off the event

Host and UEP student Mason Wells starting off the event

Students and friends performed for their colleagues and classmates within the loose theme over snacks and drinks until the building closed, at which point the group migrated to Davis Square to continue the evening.


Snacks and Guitars

GDAE Leontief Prize: Amit Bhaduri & Diane Elson
| March 14, 2016 | 12:18 pm | Events, GDAE | Comments closed

Development and Equity

Introductions by GDAE's Neva Goodwin. photo by: Erin Coutts

Introductions by GDAE’s Neva Goodwin. photo by: Erin Coutts

The Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts hosted their annual award ceremony for the Leontief Prize in Ballou Hall last week. The event was sponsored by the Tufts Institute for the Environment and the Tufts Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The prize, named after Wassily Leontief, is awarded for advancing the frontiers of economic thought and supporting just and sustainable societies. The prize, given out since 2000, has been awarded to 32 distinguished economists over the years, including Amartya Sen (Nobel Prize winner for welfare economics), John Kenneth Galbraith (market power and consumer sovereignty) and Herman E. Daly (Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development).

Diane Elson: University of Essex

Diane Elson (left), University of Essex

Diane Elson, emeritus professor at the University of Essex, spoke about her research on development through a gender lens. She prefaced her talk with the following quote, “Standard macroeconomic policy is not gender neutral. It emphasizes the expansion of market activity and devalues non-market activity. Development measures should be adjusted to account for this.” Elson quoted numbers from research on gender and non-market activity. A man in Buenos Aires spends an average of 89 minutes per day on unpaid work, while a woman spends 256 minutes per day. Adding paid work, men average 422 minutes per day and women 436 minutes per day. In India the numbers for men and women are 36 and 354, respectively. These numbers also show the magnified effect of this disparity in paid/unpaid work distribution in relatively less developed countries. By Elson’s estimates, putting a monetary value (even just minimum wage) on unpaid work would inflate GDPs by 20-40%. She suggests a system to remedy this siguation: Recognize, Reduce, and Redistribute. Recognize unpaid work by incorporating it into GDP. Reduce the imbalance by improving, for example, water infrastructure, which women in developing countries spend disproportionate time and energy gathering. Finally, redistribute unpaid work by offering parental leave for new fathers in addition to new mothers.

Amit Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Amit Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Amit Bhaduri’s lecture focused on issues of power in economics. He says that current economic curricula teach the subject as “Adam Smith minus Karl Marx.” Bhaduri’s work has covered many fields, but his driving force is the question of how people relate to and dominate one another. He calls into question the ideas of the “mutual dependence” of labor and capital (or his other example, the lion and rabbit) and “market equilibrium” in an efficient market He stressed the necessity of equality in order to achieve true mutual dependence, otherwise the mutual nature of the relationship falls apart. There are few cases in which market equilibrium is achieved. Standard economic theory requires that all firms in a market are in perfect competition, and therefore must accept the going rate for selling their goods and services. It is more likely that firms, often using misinformation campaigns, act more as price-setters than price-takers. Bhaduri also spoke on the history of banking regulation in the United States and development and growth strategies in India.

A video recording of the event will be released shortly, found here.

Tufts ENVS: Communicating Science
| March 11, 2016 | 3:31 pm | Tufts, Tufts Environmental Studies Department | Comments closed

This week’s Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn dealt with a topic important to environmental policymaking: Communicating Science. How can a policymaker or news outlet take important yet complex information and make it accessible to an audience that hasn’t had years of relevant education in the field? Erin Allweiss, who majored in environmental studies and international relations at Tufts, has had a long career in communications. She has worked as a campaign coordinator for Oxfam America, press secretary for the Natural Resources Defense Council, communications manager for the U.S. House of Representatives, and is currently the founder and owner of No.29 Communications.

Erin Allweiss: Founder of No.29 Communications and Tufts alum

Erin Allweiss: Founder of No.29 Communications and          Tufts alum

Allweiss stresses the importance of storytelling. She cites Rachel Carson (author of “Silent Spring), Upton Sinclair (“The Jungle”) and Al Gore (“An Inconvenient Truth”) as thinkers and communicators who were able to take intricate problems at the intersection of business, public health, food and the environment and make them easily digestible to a mass audience. Recently, in an effort to show the effects of global warming, President Obama joined famous TV explorer Bear Grylls on an expedition to the Alaskan Arctic. In order to actually reach the intended audience, the hook of a story needs to draw a reader or viewer in. If Obama were to give another speech about global warming it would likely reach the same audience that always listens to his views on the environment. Joining an episode of Bear Grylls’ show on NBC gave him the expanded reach that is necessary in furthering environmental progress.

Allweiss used her involvement in news of Obama’s push to reinstate the Superfund Tax as an example of the next step in effectively communicating complex issues. The tax, which is levied on oil producers, refineries, chemical manufacturers and others, was instated by Jimmy Carter in the 70s to clean up superfund sites that have been heavily contaminated and demand long-term remediation. Allweiss worked closely with the New York Times editorial board to ensure that “legislative speak” was adequately translated into layperson’s terms.

It’s easy to become complacent or assume a higher degree of understanding among the general population once you become educated on an issue. Allweiss reminds us of the importance to constantly consider how difficult it can be to convey complex information and how important it is to work toward more effective communication in science..

Community Development in a Comparative Framework: Colombia & Afghanistan
| March 8, 2016 | 5:16 pm | Colloquium, Events | Comments closed

Huma Gupta from the MIT School of Architecture and Alyssa Bryson from MIT CoLab presented their research at last week’s UEP Colloquium. Gupta, who worked on international aid infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, showcased Integrity Watch Afghanistan’s Community Monitoring Toolkit. The toolkit was developed in response to years of dwindling resources, corruption and a lack of accountability in USAID‘s foreign aid program. Increasing privatization of development, subcontracting labor, and a history of funds going to western agencies rather than local developers ultimately led to Hilary Clinton claiming that “USAID has been decimated.

Gupta worked in 75 communities in 75 districts in northern Afghanistan to train and elect locals to go to development sites, talk to builders, and gather photos and documents. Monitors then gave monthly updates to the government to keep them up to speed on the state of affairs. The Community Monitoring web site was developed to allow other communities across Afghanistan and the rest of the world (the site is currently in Dari/Farsi and English) to mitigate the negative effects of international aid programs. Gupta emphasizes that this is a tool for mitigation, not a solution to lacking infrastructure or corruption. A structural fix would treat the cause rather than the symptoms.

Community Based Monitoring in Afghanistan

Community Based Monitoring in Afghanistan

Alyssa Bryson studied the Colombian Pacific, a geographically isolated area of the country with low human development levels, minimal government and a strong guerrilla presence. Extractive industries are prevalent in the region, which has the greatest population of Afro-Colombians and a large population of indigenous Colombians.

https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Afro-Colombians

poder_pacifico_flyerInternational aid and development in the region has historically focused on big projects, in which profits flow to elsewhere in the country or across borders, rather than efforts to build local wealth. Bryson studied and assisted in the establishment of a network of local indigenous leaders who could advocate for greater inclusion in national initiatives and support local growth projects. The program, Manos Visibles (Visible Hands) is working with former guerrillas to transition to constructive work. They built a school of economics, a school of government, and funds for at-risk women and children.

Visit the MIT CoLab web site to learn more about their international projects.

Planning Practice: Projects and Partnerships
| March 6, 2016 | 5:46 pm | APA, MassAPA | Comments closed

Four School + APA Planning Symposium

Ken Reardon (UMass Boston), Paige Peltzer (Harvard GSD), Erin Shaeffer (City of Salem), Mariana Arcaya (MIT), Juan Leyton (DSNI) and Penn Loh (Tufts UEP) with host Eran Ben-Joseph (MIT)

From Left: Ken Reardon (UMass Boston), Paige Peltzer (Harvard GSD), Erin Schaeffer (City of Salem), Mariana Arcaya (MIT), Juan Leyton (DSNI) and Penn Loh (Tufts UEP) with host Eran Ben-Joseph (MIT)

The annual convening of Massachusetts planning schools and the Massachusetts chapter of the American Planning Association happened last week at the MIT Media Lab. The event was centered around a panel that featured UEP’s Penn Loh and DSNI executive director/UEP MPP alum Juan Leyton. Other panelists included Paige Peltzer, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Erin Schaeffer, a planner with the city of Salem, and Mariana Arcaya from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Ken Reardon, who spoke recently on Tufts campus about his work in post-Katrina New Orleans, gave an illuminating introduction about the importance of strong partnerships between planning academics and local communities. Reardon is the director of UMass Boston’s new Urban Planning and Community Development program.

The panel focused on success stories of university-community partnerships, such as the relationship between Tufts UEP and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. Afterward the talk, students, professors and practitioners had a chance to meet and greet over food and drinks. Until next year!

Cities for People with Gehl Architects
| March 4, 2016 | 1:52 pm | Events, UP3 | Comments closed


Gehl Architects urban designer Kate DeSantis visited Tufts UP3 this week to share the outlook and work of Jan Gehl, a Danish architect who started his eponymous firm in 2000. DeSantis, whose undergraduate degree was in neuroscience, represents a lot of what Gehl has worked towards. He was a contemporary of Jane Jacobs, and like Jacobs, he stood in opposition to the high modernism of the time. Instead of taking the 10,000 foot view of urban design, he focused on life and people first, then space, and finally buildings. He calls into question the assumptions about people made by computer models, and insists that people actually respond more to their city’ structures. Last year, the city of Somerville worked with Gehl Studio, developing research for their comprehensive plan, Somervision and Somerville By Design.

JanGehl20120418133151375_0001Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, has gone through a dramatic shift since the 1960s, when many of its most impressive squares functioned as parking lots. They began experimenting with pedestrianized streets in 1962 with the Strøget, now the world’s longest. Since then, the city has been expanding the network of pedestrian streets and is currently working on building greater connections to the waterfront.

"Strøget" the Pedestrian Street

“Strøget” the Pedestrian Street

One thing DeSantis was sure to emphasize is that the success of Gehl Architects in Denmark isn’t necessarily going to translate to American cities. The average trip in Copenhagen is under 6 miles, far shorter than those in sprawling American cities. DeSantis and Gehl Architects have worked in San Francisco and New York City to experiment with pedestrianizing streets. Market Street, a main thoroughfare of San Francisco, was closed to cars in 2015 for the Market Street Prototyping Festival. The goal was to get strangers to interact and spend time on the street, as well as getting feedback from residents on the streets design features. For the three days of the festival, lingering activities increased by 700%, 30% more people walked along the street, especially elderly residents and children, and 15,000 people gave their design feedback through Neighborland.

A similar series of events were conducted in New York City, which saw many successful outcomes but also some negative responses. The City’s Police Commissioner was quoted as wanting to dig the project up and go back to the way it was. Though it may have made police work more difficult, it did lead to increased pedestrian traffic, reduced pedestrian injuries, and an improved perception of Times Square. Citywide, over 61 new plazas were created.