Selma’s Commencement

14 05 2016

This morning I had the pleasure of hooding Selma Elouardighi, who successfully defended her PhD in Planning, Governance, & Globalization in April. Since Selma’s family were not able to travel from Morocco to the CAUS Commencement Ceremony, I recorded a video of the event for them through Google Glass. The video below captures my perspective of the ceremony and includes some fun behind the scenes moments.

Novnit Kashyap (IITK-VT Scholar)

12 05 2016

I’d like to thank Ricky Cox and Theresa Burriss for hosting this visit to Radford University’s Selu Conservancy. This was an excellent way for Novnit Kashyap and Charles Chirwa (two visiting scholars from India and Malawi, respectively) to learn about Virginia’s culture and history.

IITK-VT Partnership on Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure

Novnit Kashyap, a student in the Department of Civil Engineering at IIT Kanpur, has arrived at Virginia Tech as a visiting research scholar. He will be working under the guidance of Dr. Ralph Hall in the School of Public and International Affairs for a period of two months (May and June, 2016).

Novnit will work on creating proposals for short term professional development courses to be offered at Virginia Tech’s India ICTAS Innovation Center. Accordingly, he will carry out research to study the nature of professional development courses that are needed in India and engage with prospective faculty at Virginia Tech.

In India, his research focuses on the sustainability parameters for urban water resource infrastructure in the context of smart cities.

The images below were taken during a recent visit to Radford University’s Selu Conservancy, where Novit and visiting scholar Charles Chirwa (from Mzuzu University, Malawi) were able…

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2016 International Development Studio Presentations

5 05 2016

Today marked the end of the 2016 International Development Planning Studio. This year we continued to advance the quality of the proposals being developed by students, in large part due to the support of a number of international development experts at Virginia Tech. These experts worked closely with the students to help shape their ideas and refine their application of specific tools such as logical framework analysis. This semester, I also used a formative assessment framework to help guide the structure of the studio, which I will discuss in a future post.


I have listed below the titles of the student proposals to provide an indication of the range of subjects covered this semester.

  • Implementation of Sexual Health Programs within Iran
  • HIV Prevention Program in Bujumbura, Burundi
  • Reducing Child Mortality in Burkina Faso Through Breastfeeding Education
  • Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire)
  • Planning a Bus Rapid Transit System in New Delhi, India
  • Gudri and Tantnagar Open Defecation Pilot Project
  • Mobile Clinic and Educational Bus Bucharest, Romania
  • Domestic Violence Support and Awareness in Guyana

In the final two studios, students formally presented and defended their proposals to a panel of international development experts. I would like to thank the following individuals for serving on these proposal review panels: Sophie Wenzel, Hannah Menefee, Maria Elisa ChristieJohn BrowderBill AndersonJames Foreman, and Van Crowder. I greatly their time and the important contributions they make to student learning.

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Info Session for New CoLab Course

29 04 2016

On May 4, 2016, at 7pm, my colleague Dr. Maggie Cowell will be giving an information session about an exciting new course she will be offering this fall. The course will bring together Hollins University and Virginia Tech students to design a student-driven research project with CoLab and CityWorks XPO in Roanoke.

To join the information session at 7pm on May 4, click on this link.


Congratulations Selma Elouardighi!

23 04 2016

This afternoon, Selma Elouardighi successfully defended her dissertation entitled “The Transfer of Environmental Best Practices from Developed to Developing Countries through Multinational Corporations.”

I have provided a brief excerpt from her dissertation below that captures the essence of her research.

This research was prompted by a desire to understand why Moroccan cement companies have adopted advanced environmental responsibility practices far beyond those used by companies in the other sectors of the national economy. While corporate environmental stewardship in Morocco is generally lacking, cement producers have adopted best practices. This observation prompted two questions: why did the cement sector adopt, of its own volition, advanced environmental performance in the absence of the impetus of the state (i.e., stringent and enforced regulation), and how was the industry able to change course, develop, and adopt these best practices? Answering these questions meant identifying the power structures capable of inducing behavioral change within Moroccan companies, as well as the mechanics through which new knowledge is generated within the same context.

Using process tracing as a research methodology, … this research analyzed the external business environment of cement subsidiaries in Morocco, and uncovered the processes through which the adoption of EBP by Moroccan cement subsidiaries was enabled.

Using the knowledge she obtained through her research, Selma set-up an NGO in Morocco in 2014 to help create an Industrial Cluster for Environmental Services (known as CISE-Marco). The NGO and its partners subsequently applied for and received a green entrepreneurship grant from the U.S. Department of State to promote cleaner production processes and green jobs in Morocco. Her research and subsequent work provide an excellent example of how students from SPIA’s PGG program are focusing on significant and real-world problems.

I served as the co-chair of Selma’s doctoral committee, alongside Edward Weisband (co-chair), Karen Hult, and Deborah Gallagher.

Ralph Hall, Selma Elouardighi, Karen Hult, and Edward Weisband

Ralph Hall, Selma Elouardighi, Karen Hult, and Edward Weisband

Organizing the First Wave of Books

13 04 2016

The Mzuni Library Initiative

I’d like to thank all of the students and faculty who volunteered their time this evening to sort through and pack the first wave of books that we hope to ship to Mzuzu University in the near future. The pictures below capture some of our activities.

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Congratulations Nneoma Nwankwo!

10 04 2016

Congratulations Nneoma for being named Virginia Tech’s Undergraduate Student of the Year! The pictures below were taken this evening during Virginia Tech’s Student Recognition Banquet at the VT Inn. Nneoma began the day by giving a presentation at the ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference in Syracuse, NY. Fortunately, the snow stopped this afternoon and she was able to return to Virginia in time for the ceremony. She had quite the day!

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