UEP Alumni Panel and Networking Event
| May 5, 2016 | 1:10 pm | Events, SPA | Comments closed

UEP has been busy in the last week, hosting two alumni events over the weekend. The first was an alumni panel featuring UEPers that are now working in global operations, research and consulting.

  • Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.25.51 PMDenise Chin (MA 2014) –  Senior Research Assistant at the Director General’s Office at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
  • Jon Crowe (MA 2010) – Senior Consultant at Meister Consultants Group
  • Armando Milou (MA 2008, WSSS) – GIS Specialist with the International Finance Corporation
  • Nicholas Petschek (MA/MALD 2012) – Senior Consultant in Governance, Culture & Leadership at LRN
  • Katie Walsh (MA/MALD 2014) – Cities Manager for the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

    Alumni Panel: Working in Global Operations, Research and Consulting

    Networking before the Alumni Panel: Working in Global Operations, Research and Consulting

Alumni briefly discussed their work and career trajectories since graduating from UEP before responding to questions from the audience. Discussion followed on how UEP prepared them for their careers, opportunities they wish they would have taken advantage of while there, and how they see the next few years of their work playing out. Students in the audience asked about the UEP network in their fields and the language skills required in their work. Alumni unanimously agreed that Negotiations was one of the most important classes they had taken. They also recommended taking diverse courses, including branching out to other schools in the area.

Alumni Networking Event at Vanderbilt Kitchen & Bar

Alumni Networking Event at Vanderbilt Kitchen & Bar

The next day was a more informal networking event put together by the UEP Student Planning & Policy Association. Current students and alumni convened at Vanderbilt Kitchen & Bar near State Street where a crowd of 50 or so discussed careers and opportunities. There was a good showing from class of 2015 graduates, as well as a number from previous years. Folks enjoyed a buffet and drinks while expanding the career opportunities of the UEP network in Boston and elsewhere.

Sacred Rice: Environmental Change and Structural Uncertainty in West Africa
| May 1, 2016 | 2:03 pm | Tufts Environmental Studies Department | Comments closed

This week’s Tufts Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn was a presentation by Boston University anthropologist Joanna Davidson on her work in rice farming communities in Guinea Bissau. Her book, Sacred Rice, looks at the intricacies of economic and environmental conditions affecting the Jola people. Davidson spent over ten years studying rice cultivation in rural Guinea Bissau and the way rice has shaped the worldview and way of life of the people there.

Joanna Davidson: Sacred Rice

Joanna Davidson: Sacred Rice

Guinea Bissau is a nation of 1.5 million people and 23-27 different ethnic groups. The geography of the country is mostly flat mangrove swampland. There isn’t even a word for mountain in the Jola language. This terrain has made it ideal for palm oil forests and rice paddies. Cultivation of the Oryza glaberrima species began in West Africa, distinct from the rice species grown in Asia, with a higher protein content. Rice gave rise to many of the precolonial African kingdoms, and it is thought that American rice cultivation began only after the slave trade brought rice farmers to the Americas. Since the earliest times, Jola life has depended on rice. The people believe that they were created to farm rice, and their hard work in the rice paddies is part of a covenant with their supreme deity for which they are rewarded with rain. Since the mid 90s, however, the long June to October rainy season that they depend on has shortened to one or two months. As a result, many Jola families don’t have enough rice to last them through the year.

The blame can be laid partially on climate change, but is also the result of centuries of shifting lifeways. During the colonial era, Europeans forced farmers to switch to cash crops like sugar and tobacco for international trade rather than domestic subsistence. More recently, shifts toward urbanization mean that there are fewer people farming rice. Jola farmers have largely responded by simply working harder and longer. According to Davidson, much of this burden falls on Jola women. Seeing rice farming as a dead end long-term, families now send their children to be schooled in the capital city rather than train them in cultivation.

Source: http://www.navvi.com/blog/2015/1/23/how-can-the-countries-hardest-hit-by-ebola-avoid-a-potential-food-security-crisis

Source: http://www.navvi.com/blog/2015/1/23/how-can-the-countries-hardest-hit-by-ebola-avoid-a-potential-food-security-crisis

The Gates Foundation is funding a program called AGRA: the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. The hope is that this African-led movement can improve agricultural and market infrastructure. According to Davidson, this program is “not particularly hopeful.”

In a society which defines itself through rice, it is important to consider the effects of climate change beyond the environment or the economy. It becomes an existential issue for the Jola people, who eat rice at every meal. In an anecdote from Davidson’s research, she cooked a spaghetti dinner for the family she was staying with. After the meal, the family asked “So now, where is the food?”

Two Presentations on Sustainable Forestry

This past week, Tufts was host to two guest speakers talking about sustainable forest management. The first, last Monday, was a representative of Mexican reforestation initiative Ejido Verde. At the Environmental Studies department’s weekly Lunch & Learn, Tufts lecturer in environmental anthropology and MIT doctoral candidate Tod Özden-Schilling spoke about the use of computer models in forestry research.

CEO of Ejido Verde, Shaun Paul, stopped by GDAE at Tufts to present on their sustainable and equitable model for pine resin production in the Mexican state of Michoacán. “Ejido Verde” means green “ejido,” which is the term used in Mexico for communally owned land used for agriculture, or in this case, agroforestry.

This video was produced as part of a crowdfunding campaign, which raised their initial goal of $200,000 in only two weeks. As explained in the video, the Purépecha people now have income from over 2400 hectares of pine resin production. Pine resin is used in products including chewing gum, adhesives, food preservatives and more. Mexico is the fifth largest producer of pine resin, with 95% of that coming from the state of Michacán. Mexico has a huge variety of pines, many of which produce large quantities of valuable resin. China, Indonesia and Brazil are by far the largest producers.

Agroforestry in Michoacán

Agroforestry in Michoacán. Source: http://ejidoverde.org/

Here’s how the model works: Working with the communal owners of ejidos, mostly in Michoacán, Ejido Verde brings funding and sustainable forest management education to provide an initial investment of ~$2000 per hectare of ejido. These are long-term loans, a result of the fact that it takes at least 8-10 years for a pine forest to become ready for tapping. Ten years later, a hectare of pine forest can be expected to generate $3,400 in revenue per year, for eighty years. Cultivation and maintenance are paid through debt financing in the short-term, providing much needed job opportunities to the region. Longer-term, the ejido benefits from a stable revenue source for years to come. Ejido Verde takes 10% of the value of resin sold by the ejido to the pine resin industry. On top of this revenue, the Mexican government pays the ejidos for the benefits of reforestation.

Ejido Verde struggles with reconciling the need for biodiversity in long-term sustainability with the need for short- and long-term revenue to sustain the indigenous people of Michoacán. Pine beetles are an issue affecting many ejidos, but because the system is scattered and not confined to one large area, spread of pests is somewhat controlled.

The Mountain Pine Beetle. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_pine_beetle#/media/File:Dendroctonus_ponderosae.jpg

The Mountain Pine Beetle. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Mountain_pine_beetle#/media/File:Dendroctonus_ponderosae.jpg

Tom Özden-Schilling spoke to the Environmental Studies Department about the contention between field-based vs computer model based forestry research. With ever increasing technological tools at the fingertips of forestry scientists, the world of “experimental forests” is diminishing. Computer models are thought by many to be capable of turning what used to be a scientific problem into an engineering problem: What features can be put into place in order to grow the most trees at the fastest rate. Unlike experimental forests, these computer models were unable to account for the presence of the mountain pine beetle, which swept through British Columbia’s forests between 2001-2009. More about Özden-Schilling’s is outlined in this blog post of his from 2014.


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..