The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ Richmond Gathering

28 11 2017

Next week I will be taking part in a series of events and meetings in Richmond, Virginia, that will officially launch the Beloved Community Initiative. The press release below provides more details about this gathering. If you live in Richmond, please consider attending one of the four FREE public events that will be held from Dec 3-5. Please click here to register for these events.

Press Release – 11/28/2017

The School of Public and International Affairs is pleased to announce a workshop developed through the efforts of the Beloved Community Initiative (BCI). The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ Richmond Gathering is a three-day event hosted in partnership with Virginia Union University and will be held at various locations in Richmond, Virginia, starting on December 3, 2017, and closing on December 5, 2017.

The working group associated with the BCI has developed the concept of “Spirals,” or holistic organizing efforts that combine broad, creative thinking and writing with input and inspiration of engagement and experience as a convenient heuristic to describe its aims for this effort. The Richmond workshop will examine community projects (engagement and experience) rooted in current understandings of social change that engage community members, students, and faculty, and seek actively to learn from them (creative thinking and writing) by means of sustained discussion (reflection).

The Virginia Tech team behind the BCI believe that as a leading academic institution, the university can serve as a wellspring of ideas for community change and strategies to secure social justice. These strategies can be developed, applied, and refined both with and in partner communities.

The Beloved Community ‘Dream Reset’ is a workshop convened by Dr. Virgil Wood and has been designed to encourage the sharing of ideas and new ways of thinking concerning social change. The planned events will explore the ongoing work in Flint, Michigan, and the educational uplift of children both physically and psychologically affected by the Flint water crisis. Additional sessions of the workshop intend to explore the following:

  • Investigate ways and means of cultivating hope as an essential resource and reservoir for encouraging community resilience by means of systematic assessment of specific community action strategies.
  • Examine and create conditions necessary to ensure environmental justice for all community residents, but particularly those suffering economically or as a consequence of social discrimination in partnership with the Flint city government and civil society organizations in that community.
  • Envision the broad political, social, and economic changes necessary to secure the moral arc identified by the concept of the Beloved Community at local, state, and national scales.

The workshop will feature presentation and commentary from the following list of speakers:

  • Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • Ralph Hall, Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech
  • Chivonne Battle, Virginia Tech, BCI Task Force
  • Virgil Wood, Ridenour Faculty Fellow, Virginia Tech; Pastor Emeritus, Pond Street Baptist Church; VUU Alum, Former Dean, Northeastern University; Former ten-year working associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Christian Moore, WHY TRY Founder.
  • Owen C. Cardwell Jr., Pastor, New Canaan International Church, President and Founder, Heroes and Dreams Academy
  • Max Stephenson Jr., Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director, Institute for Policy and Governance, Virginia Tech
  • Sylvester Johnson, Assistant Vice Provost for the Humanities, Virginia Tech
  • Anne Khademian, Director, School of Public and International Affairs Virginia Tech

Additional information and registration is available at www.belovedcommunityinitiative.eventbrite.com.

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Images from Study Abroad Course – Switzerland and Senegal

15 11 2017

Last week I completed a module for the Deans’ Semester on Global Challenges that began in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, then moved to Geneva, and ended in Senegal. During this module, students explored the global food challenge, paying specific attention to sustainable agricultural practices, the food-water-energy nexus, agricultural education, (mal)nutrition, and value/supply chains. After exploring these subjects, we engaged with professionals working on various aspects of the global food challenge and met with faculty and students studying agricultural systems and entrepreneurship at two universities in Senegal.

The images below provide a snapshot of the various activities we were able to undertake during this course. Click here for a Google-created video of our time at Lake Retb (the Pink Lake) in Senegal.

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Thank You Social Investors!

12 10 2017

On behalf of Jessica Agnew, I wanted to thank everyone who kindly donated money to Jessica’s BUY2THRIVE program. The positive response Jessica received from family, friends, students, faculty, and members of the general public (including one or two from the UK and Ireland) has been the most rewarding aspect of her initiative so far. In total, 147 people made a donation and the final amount raised was $16,555. This amount put Jessica in second place in the overall CGU-U Commitments Challenge, which far surpassed what we thought was possible.

Jessica will be leaving for the CGI-U meeting tomorrow, where she will present her ideas and learn about ways to enhance the impacts of her project. If you plan to attend the event, please keep an eye open for Jessica and ask her plenty of questions about the program she is developing.





Jessica Agnew Launches Buy2Thrive Initiative

6 10 2017

Please consider becoming a social investor and supporting Jessica Agnew’s BUY2THRIVE nutrition education program in Mozambique. Click on the image below to learn more.





John O. Browder

27 09 2017

Last week, a colleague, mentor, and friend Professor John O. Browder lost his battle against cancer. John has left behind a significant legacy at Virginia Tech and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on his enduring impact.

During the eight years I worked with John, I was able to witness his dedication to student learning and leadership in advancing the international aspects of our academic programs. As a mentor, John was always willing to provide honest and constructive feedback that helped many faculty at Virginia Tech navigate the tenure and promotion process. I now find myself repeating the advice I received from John to others, advice that came from his decades of experience serving on promotion and tenure committees at the school, college, and university level.

In the classroom setting, John created a relaxed and open environment, but always challenged students to continually advance their knowledge. He created a learning partnership model with our doctoral students as they co-explored theories of pedagogy and learning. With our masters students, John anchored our international development offerings. At the undergraduate level, John taught environmental ethics and addressed real problems with clients in the environmental problem solving studio.

When I arrived at Virginia Tech in 2009, John asked me to take over the international development planning studio that he created and had taught for over a decade. We later made this studio one of the two core classes that support the graduate certificate in Global Planning and International Development Studies. This certificate was created under John’s leadership in collaboration with other programs at Virginia Tech. John never went far from the studio, leading discussions on the lessons he learned from his research in the Amazon or serving on the studio’s proposal review panel. I have included a few pictures below of John in action.

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John will be dearly missed by everyone he touched. He still had much to give, especially related to helping Virginia Tech become a global land grant institution.

Thank you John for everything you gave us.





Jessica Agnew’s $20k CGI-U Challenge

17 09 2017

Jessica Agnew is a PhD student in Planning, Governance, and Globalization at Virginia Tech. She is one 1,000 students to attend the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University conference in Boston this October. Students attending the conference are asked to make commitments to action in five core areas: education, environment and climate change, poverty alleviation, peace and human rights, and public health. Jessica is one of about 100 students who have been invited to present their proposed projects at the CGI U Exchange – an exhibition style networking event on the second day of the conference. She is also one of 50 students who were selected to receive support on the Crowd Rise platform to crowdsource the funds they need to advance their projects.

Jessica’s nutrition education program in Mozambique is called BUY2THRIVE. It will not only educate mothers of young children about good nutrition, but also how to purchase foods that are safe and nutritious. While knowing the right types of foods to eat is important, if mothers don’t know how to adjust food purchases based on changes in income and availability, then nutrition education will have little impact. BUY2THRIVE will also train respected women in the communities to deliver the education to mothers. This will ensure that mothers receive the education from people they trust. It will also help to create changes in the way entire communities think about food. The BUY2THRIVE program will be run in Mozambique, partnering with local organizations to ensure maximum impact.

Jessica is now crowdsourcing the money she needs to launch the beginning stages of BUY2THRIVE in Mozambique. Please consider partnering with her – as a social investor – as she works towards addressing malnutrition in Mozambique.





Congratulations Marc Fialkoff!

14 09 2017

Congratulations to Marc Fialkoff who successfully defended his PhD in Planning, Governance, and Globalization on Monday. Marc’s research focused on quantifying the effect of the Jones Act restriction on freight transportation networks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. His research blended civil engineering, law, network science, and planning to analyze the impact of a law on critical infrastructure. Marc’s committee represented the interdisciplinary nature of transportation policy, with committee members from Urban Affairs and Planning, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Law, and Network Science. I served as co-chair Marc’s committee with Ralph Buehler, along with committee members Kathleen Hancock, Henning Mortveit, and Jonathan Gutoff.

In addition to being an interdisciplinary study of law, policy, and freight transportation, Marc’s research leveraged a collaborative partnership between the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). As part of his research, Marc spent a year with the Critical Infrastructure and Climate Change team at ORNL, under the supervision of Dr. Olufemi Omitaomu, collecting data and analyzing the impacts of the law on the highway and railway networks. Using tools developed by ORNL researchers, Marc connected his background in law and planning with technical expertise to evaluate law and policy decisions on freight transportation. Most recently, Marc was selected as an Eno Fellow by the Eno Center for Transportation in recognition of his interdisciplinary approach to studying problems in transportation research.

Marc’s research is timely in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to inform decision-makers as to the impact of relaxing the Jones Act and its implications on the freight transportation network. It is the first study to externalize the Jones Act as a legal lever for influencing recovery within the freight transportation system.

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Abstract

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused massive disruption and destruction to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The intensity of the storm forced the Port of New York and New Jersey to close, forcing cargo diversion to the Port of Norfolk in Virginia. Because of the Jones Act restriction on foreign vessels moving between U.S. ports, the restriction on short sea shipping was viewed as a barrier to recovery.

Much of the critical infrastructure resilience and security literature focuses on the “hardening” of physical infrastructure, but not the relationship between law, policy, and critical infrastructure. Traditional views of transportation systems do not adequately address questions of governance and emergent behaviors such as resilience. In contrast, recent development of a System of Systems framework provides a conceptual framework to study the relationship of law and policy systems to the transportation systems they govern.

Applying a System of Systems framework, this research analyzed the effect of relaxing the Jones Act on freight transportation networks experiencing a disruptive event. Using WebTRAGIS (Transportation Routing Analysis GIS), the results of the research demonstrate that relaxing the Jones Act had a marginal reduction on highway truck traffic and no change in rail traffic volume in the aftermath of a disruption. The research also analyzed the Jones Act waiver process and the barriers posed by the legal process involved in administration and review for Jones Act waivers. Recommendations on improving the waiver process include greater agency coordination and formal rulemaking to ensure certainty with the waiver process.

This research is the first in studying the impact of the Jones Act on a multimodal freight transportation network. Likewise, the use of the System of Systems framework to conceptualize the law and a critical infrastructure system such as transportation provides future opportunities for studying different sets of laws and policies on infrastructure. This can provide policymakers and planners with a more robust opportunity to understand the impact of law and policy on the infrastructure systems they govern.