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from Municipal Sustainability & Energy Forum
August 6, 2018 at 9 PT – 10 MT -11 CT – Noon ET
TOPIC: LEVERAGING UNIVERSITIES FOR ADVANCING STATE & LOCAL ENERGY POLICY
Presented by: Richard Reibstein, Boston University
Boston University’s Rick Reibstein, an instructor in environmental law and policy, has recently created a course entitled “Research for Environmental Agencies and Organizations”, in which students perform discrete research tasks for government and nonprofit groups on environmental and public health matters. The course has proven to be a great way to supplement scarce agency and NGO resources and produce work useful to the clients, the students, and the public. He will discuss student projects that involved energy, including:
- examining the potential for community solar to clean up waste sites;
- the implementation of community choice aggregation;
- and the optimal placement of EV charging stations.
For those who might wish to consider replicating this approach, the conversation will cover how the course is conducted:
- how research tasks are identified and selected
- the role of the course instructor in ensuring quality of product
- the team relationship and independent student work
- contacts with relevant staff and experts
Reception of student work has been enthusiastically positive in nearly all cases. Agencies and organizations use the class for research they don’t have the time to perform. Students learn about real world issues, make contacts and gain insight into how government works and experience that helps them get jobs. The work is made publicly available for anyone to use, at http://www.bu.edu/rccp. Some projects continue from semester to semester and some students have stayed with the class for successive terms working on the same or related projects. For example, one student evaluated tree retention policies for the state (these were for municipalities to implement), and in the next semester participated in a team that looked at getting carbon credits for forest conservation – both efforts should be considered as opportunities for carbon sequestration and part of a climate change mitigation strategy.
About the Presenter
Rick Reibstein teaches environmental law to non-law students in the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University (Department of Earth and Environment), and is faculty in Continuing Education at Harvard. For 24 years he worked for the state of Massachusetts helping to create and run a program providing technical and compliance assistance to anyone (mostly companies) in reducing the use of toxics, energy and water. For three years he worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (Region 1) as an attorney, mostly handling cases involving violations of the lead disclosure rule. He has written and presented extensively on environmental policy and developed international training for EPA and others on how to conduct pollution prevention programs and courses on environmental issues in residential real estate. He is a winner of EPA’s Environmental Merit Award (2000), Individual Category, Al Gore’s Hammer Award for Reinvention in Government (1998), and the Most Valuable Player Award, National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, (2015).http://www.bu.edu/earth/people/faculty/rick-reibstein/
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