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Social, Economic, Environmental | Fall 2011 Speakers

SEPTEMBER 28, 2011
Moving Toward Safer Chemicals: Oregon's Opportunity for Leadership

Jennifer Allen
Associate Professor of Public Administration
and Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU

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With Oregon's green reputation, you might think the transition away from toxic chemicals was well underway. But the state faces a number of challenges, not the least of which is the lack of coordination and communication among agencies, nonprofits, researchers and the need for more robust and accessible information about the chemicals we use. By taking the right steps, Oregon can draw upon its "green" talent and industry to become a national leader in the transition to safer chemicals.

 

OCTOBER 5, 2011

Environmental Health and Equity for Sustainable Cities: A Search for Solutions

Veronica Dujon (and panel)
Professor of Sociology and Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU

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Like in many cities, Portland is home to vast health disparities. Our city’s poor as well as ethnic and racial minorities are disproportionately exposed to harmful environmental conditions, economic disadvantages and social barriers to healthy lives.

A team of researchers at Portland State University is collaborating with community partners to better measure the many facets of “social sustainability” and identify strategies that will improve people’s lives. New studies suggest that the team’s community-based participatory research approach is on exactly the right track.

 

OCTOBER 12, 2011
Collaborative Solutions for the Mighty Columbia

Heejun Chang
Professor of Geography and Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at PSU

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The highly developed Columbia is a vast river basin that for decades has been mired with seemingly unsolvable problems. The stresses of climate change, urban growth and regulatory conflicts only multiply these problems. Any viable solutions will require unprecedented collaboration and examination of all of the issues at not one but many scales. As a model for how to go forward, a collaboration of Portland State researchers – engineers, social and natural scientists – is examining three sub-basins for vulnerabilities in water supply, demand and quality, engaging stakeholders in diagnosing and solving complex water problems.

 

OCTOBER 19, 2011
A business partnership with posterity: Creating an enhanced operating system for the world's economies

Hank Patton (and panel)
Chairman of World Steward

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Read the background paper

A truly healthy economy must provide adequate jobs, security and wellness to all people while at the same time protecting natural resources for current and future generations. PSU researchers are examining alternative solutions to enable economies to perform all these functions effectively and efficiently. One possible approach, called “intergenerational finance,” gives future generations the ability to partner with actors in today’s economy through trustees, long-term financing and markets based on scientifically developed metrics designed to assure greater and more equitable wealth creation while restoring natural systems. Hank Patton, the concept’s designer, will present the idea, and researchers will lead a discussion on it and other proposed solutions, like taxes, public trusts, regulation and cap and trade.

 

OCTOBER 26, 2011

Solutions for the Lower Mekong River

Ida Kubiszweski (and panel)
Institute for Sustainable Solutions

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Read the background report

Eleven hydropower dams are planned for the Lower Mekong River where as it flows through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, an area rich in biological diversity and the largest freshwater fishery in the world.  The construction would bring new power sources to a rapidly growing region, but at what cost to biological diversity, food sources, and local cultures? A report from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions has outlined an alternative planning approaches for water resources development on the lower Mekong Basin that can better account for all of the ecosystem services that the river provides, and the uncertainty associated with future scenarios of constructing some or all of the dams.

 

NOVEMBER 2, 2011

Technology in the Developing World: Revolutions for Monitoring Success

Evan Thomas
Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Materials Engineering and Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Solutions

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Nearly half of people on Earth live in rural isolation, lacking access to the most basic human services. Evan Thomas heads up Portland State’s SWEET Lab (Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies Laboratory) where a team of researchers is not only designing household solutions like gravity water filters and clean burning stoves, they are also developing technology to remotely monitor each unit, creating a whole new model of accountability for international sustainable development. What’s more, they are building in reliable streams revenue for these projects through carbon financing.   

 

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

Grounding Sustainability: Place, Practice and Perspective

Vivek Shandas
Associate Professor of Urban Studies & Planning and Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions

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We know local decisions have global impacts, but what does this up-scaling look like in practice? Portland State has established a new collaborative research center that will create models for linking across space and time scales, from the neighborhood to the region, and from the hour to the year. This effort will take students and researchers outside the classroom to work alongside the community to design real solutions for managing the precious natural resources in our backyard and beyond.

 

NOVEMBER 16, 2011

Cities as Ecological Islands: Managing for Species Diversity

Ian MacGregor-Fors
Assistant Professor, Institute of Ecology, Mexico
Pamela Yeh
Assistant Professor of Biology and Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions

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We know that urbanization transforms the land and surrounding systems, but we are just beginning to learn how cities themselves act as “ecological islands." Using avian ecology and biogeography of islands as a research framework, recent studies in the tropics are providing clues about how to plan and manage large urbanizing areas like Portland to minimize human disturbances and maximize the occurrence and diversity of native wildlife species.

 

NOVEMBER 23, 2011

Art, Society and Sustainability

Harrell Fletcher 
Associate Professor of Art and Fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions

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The lecture will address the intersection between sustainability, art and social responsibility. Harrell Fletcher will share examples from several specific projects he has been involved with and offer directions for the future, especially in relationship to Portland State's Art and Social Practice Program.

 

NOVEMBER 30, 2011

A Technology Roadmap for Northwest Energy Efficiency

Tugrul Daim 
Associate Professor of Engineering and Technology Management and Fellow
of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions

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It’s difficult to know what the future of our region’s energy systems will look like, given the rapid pace of technological advances in an unpredictable market for implementing them. With limited resources and ever-changing knowledge, how do we decide what research to prioritize?

Enter the Technology Roadmap: an extended look at the future of an industry, knitting together the knowledge of the brightest scholars and practitioners in that field. Technology roadmaps help many interested parties all arrive at the same place, aligning activities. This presentation outlines successes and lessons learned in creating a technology roadmap for energy efficiency in the Northwest.