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2021 Webinar Series: The Post-Covid Economy: Centering Justice, Sustaining Ecosystems

The USSEE is excited to announce the launch of our 2021 Webinar Series: The Post-Covid Economy: Centering Justice, Sustaining Ecosystems.

Our first event in this series is titled Fundamentals of Ecological Economics in Today’s World, and will be held Thursday January 28th at 3pm EST by speakers Phil Warsaw and Regina Ostergaard-Klem.

Follow the Eventbrite Link here for more details, and to register for this free event!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fundamentals-of-ecological-economics-in-todays-world-tickets-136507817557

Abstract: This webinar will provide a primer on Ecological Economics, with a focus on the foundations of the discipline related to environmental justice, and sustaining ecosystems that are becoming even more apparent and relevant in today’s world.  The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting fallout have shone light on the ongoing disparities economic, health, social and ecological crises, their unevenness among multiple social lines, and the inability of a perpetual growth economy in remediating these crises. This inadequacy calls for the biophysical limits of the planet while centering equity in economic systems, which is at the core of Ecological Economics. This seminar will both cover the fundamentals of Ecological Economics and outline what an ecological economic response to COVID-19 might look like. The event will consist of approximately 40 minutes of presentation, followed by 20 minutes of open discussion.

Speaker Bios:

Dr. Ostergaard-Klem is an associate professor of environmental science in the College of Natural and Computational Sciences at Hawai’i Pacific University. Her research focuses on the design, development, and roll out of the Genuine Progress Indicator for the state of Hawaii as a supplemental indicator to gross state product and exploring the role of ecological economics in developing sustainability competencies in undergraduate and graduate students.

Dr. Warsaw is an Assistant Professor of Ecological Economics and Environmental Justice in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Broadly, his research takes an interdisciplinary approach to questions of environmental justice, economic development, and sustainability, combining approaches from economics and the other social sciences, such as the use of critical theory.

Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics Awarded to ‘Floating Coast’

Join the winning author Bathsheba Demuth for a virtual book club event

The Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont (UVM), in partnership with the U.S. Society of Ecological Economics, today announced the inaugural winner of the Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics.

The prize, which celebrates outstanding writing on the environmental limits of a finite planet, is awarded to the book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait by Bathsheba Demuth of Brown University.

Floating Coast is the first-ever comprehensive history of Beringia, the Arctic land and waters between Russia and Canada, exploring the relationship between capitalism, communism, Arctic ecology, and indigenous peoples over 200 years.

[Read the full story online.]

Floating Coast was the unanimous choice of our judges because it brings the core principles of Ecological Economics to life through an important, timely subject and vivid, compelling writing,” said Taylor Ricketts, Director of the Gund Institute for Environment. “This fine historyof the Arctic, one of our most imperiled environments, is a perfectselection for the inaugural Zencey Prize.”

Named after pioneering scholar Eric Zencey (1954-2019), the Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics was created in 2018 to recognize the best current affairs book or long-form journalism that advances public understanding of real-world environmental challenges using the principles of ecological economics, a field that explores the relationship between economics and Earth’s limited natural resources.

“Eric Zencey was a model of how to bring complex, important environmental concerns to a wide audience,” said Bathsheba Demuth, an environmental historian who lived with indigenous people in the region, and drew from archival sources, while writing Floating Coast. “It is humbling and inspiring to be awarded this prize in his memory, and I hope to carry on his tradition.”

Demuth is an Assistant Professor of History & Environment and Society at Brown University and a Fellow of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, specializing in the United States and Russia, and in the history of energy and past climates. She has lived in and studied Arctic communities across Europe, Asia and North America.

Floating Coast is published by W.W. Norton and Co.

Register for a virtual Zencey Prize event

A virtual award ceremony and public book club event with Bathsheba Demuth will be co-presented by UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment and the U.S. Society of Ecological Economics on March 10 from 1-2:30 pm Eastern. Register for the Zoom event.

The Zencey Prize includes a $4,000 prize, which is expected to grow over time through philanthropy.

Runners up include:

  • A Finer Future: Creating an Economy in Service to Life by L. Hunter Lovins, Stewart Wallis, Anders Wijkman, and John Fullerton, investigates the gravity of global ecological economic challenges, while maintaining hope for the future.
  • Ecological Footprint: Managing our Biocapacity Budgetby Mathis Wackernagel and Bert Beyers, explores the ecological footprint, a metric used by the ecological economics community to measure the biological capacity of Earth.

The Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics is awarded every two years. The next call for submissions will be announced in Fall 2021.

Learn more about the Eric Zencey Prize for Ecological Economics, which is co-presented by the UVM’s Gund Institute for Environment and the U.S. Society of Ecological Economics (USSEE).

Give to the memory of Eric Zencey.

Background

As a writer, thinker, teacher, and public intellectual, Eric Zencey (1954-2019) worked to bring ecological economics – a system for understanding the political, economic, social, and environmental challenges facing our civilization – out of the academy. The Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics honors that work and encourages others to continue it.

Born in Delaware and holding a PhD in political philosophy and the history of science, Zencey made substantial contributions to understanding the biophysical foundations of the economy during his career at the University of Vermont and Washington University in St. Louis. He believed that infinite economic growth is impossible on a finite planet, because the laws of thermodynamics apply to economic systems. 

Zencey is author of four books, including The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy (UPNE); Greening Vermont: Towards a Sustainable State (with Elizabeth Courtney); and Virgin Forest (U of Georgia Press), a collection of essays on history, ecology, and culture. His first book was the internationally best-selling novel and New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Panama. His writing has appeared in media outlets ranging from The New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education to Adbusters.

Zencey has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller-Bellagio Foundation, and the Bogliasco Foundation.

In Vermont and Missouri, Zencey has been a pioneer in the compilation of and advocacy for the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), a more comprehensive measure of economic, social, and environmental health than GDP. His efforts led directly to Vermont becoming one of the first states in the nation to adopt GPI measurement.

Zencey’s affiliations at UVM included the Gund Institute, the Political Science Dept., the Honors College, the Center for Research on Vermont, and the Center for Rural Studies. At Washington University, his appointments included teaching and research positions in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Sam Fox School for Design and Visual Art. Zencey also served as chair of the online history department at SUNY Empire State College, and taught in the college’s international programs, chiefly in Prague.

Beyond GDP: MEASURING Genuine Progress: Panel Discussion Recording Available

The recording from the June 3rd Panel Discussion on the Genuine Progress Indicator is now available on the USSEE Youtube channel, and webinars page

Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) is a metric designed to take fuller account of the well-being of a nation, only a part of which pertains to the health of the nation’s economy, by incorporating environmental and social factors which are not measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GPI has been suggested to replace, or supplement, GDP as a measure of economic growth. This roundtable will comprise of researchers from across the United States who have calculated the GPI for their local regions. The focus of this panel will be on the GPI methodology and to what extent it can be used to guide policy discussions at the state and local level. Topics will include application of GPI at the subnational level, tradeoffs faced when deciding whether to use regional data or scaled national data, practical challenges faced during GPI calculation, and opportunities for making GPI gender inclusive. The presentation will include 40 minutes of panel discussion, followed by 20 minutes for open discussion and Q&A.

Speaker List:

Rob Moore, Scioto Analysis, Ohio

Mairi-Jane Fox, Regis University, Colorado

Eli Lazarus, University of California, Berkeley

Gunseli Berik, University of Utah

Regina Ostergaard-Klem, Hawaii Pacific University

To receive notifications about upcoming webinars, follow our blog, facebook page, and Twitter account @USSEE, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and become a member.

Webinar Published: Ostrom, Commons, and Voluntary Environmental Programs by erik Nordman

The webinar recording is now available for the April 15th webinar, titled Ostrom, Commons, and Voluntary Environmental Programs presented by Erik Nordman.

Twenty cities (including Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Detroit) have established 2030 District Energy Programs. Building owners within the districts voluntarily pledge to reduce their building energy use, water use and transportation-related greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030. The question is, can a voluntary program result in real resource use and pollution reductions? If so, how can the members hold each other accountable? Aseem Prakash, a student of Elinor Ostrom, and Matthew Potoski extended Ostrom’s ideas about managing a commons to voluntary environmental programs. The 2030 District program is evaluated using their “club theory” of voluntary environmental programs.

Erik Nordman is an associate professor of natural resources management at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He teaches courses and conducts research in natural resource policy and environmental economics. He is on sabbatical as a visiting scholar at Indiana University’s Ostrom Workshop and is the author of a forthcoming book about Elinor Ostrom, to be published by Island Press.

Webinar Recording Available: The Green New Deal: What is a reasonable “realism” in the face of an existential threat?

Presented by Eric Kemp-Benedict of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) . 

On October 9th, 2019 Eric Kemp-Benedict, senior scientist at SEI and USSEE member, presented for the USSEE webinar series on the topic of the Green New Deal. You can find Eric’s webinar on the USSEE Youtube page here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt5qF4hh9fA

Eric has also made his slides from the presentation available here

Webinar Abstract: In high-income countries, the first generation likely to be substantially impacted by climate change is coming of age, and they are urging us to action. Greta Thunberg is asking us to please panic, while Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led the writing of the Green New Deal resolution. Their calls are grounded in appeals to “the science”: the physical mechanisms driving climate change and evidence of impacts from the natural sciences. Meanwhile, William Nordhaus was given the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics for his work on the economics of climate change. His research program has arguably allowed for people to tell us not to panic. Yet, his has not been the only view within economics. In this presentation, I will briefly survey some of the alternatives and present a simple model for exploring broad alternatives. I will then talk about the role of social and institutional trust in making major systemic changes in a time of uncertainty.

UVM Launches $4,000 Environmental Writing Prize

Now accepting submissions for Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics

The Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont invites submissions for the inaugural Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics, which celebrates outstanding writing on the environmental limits of our finite planet.

The winning author will receive $4,000, plus financial support for a trip to the University of Vermont for a public campus event in Burlington, VT.

The Zencey Prize will recognize the best current affairs book or long-form journalism that addresses real-world environmental issues using the principles of ecological economics, a field that explores the relationships between economics and Earth’s limited natural resources.

To be eligible, submissions must be published in English, in the years 2018 or 2019, and target a general audience.

The prize is named after Eric Zencey, a pioneering scholar and public intellectual who worked to bring ecological economics outside the academy to understand and address the political, economic, social, and environmental challenges facing society.

“I hope this prize will inspire future generations of environmental writers and ecological economists to communicate real-world solutions beyond ‘the Ivory Tower,’” said Eric Zencey (1954-2019), whose life will be celebrated on Sept. 29.

UVM students and scholars will benefit from the Zencey Prize through educational opportunities, seminars, readings, and events.

“The Gund Institute for Environment is a leader in ecological economics, thanks to the efforts of scholars like Eric Zencey,” said Taylor Ricketts, Director, Gund Institute. “The Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics is an important new prize for the field – and exemplifies Eric’s passion for real-world issues. We thank the Zencey family for their vision and generosity.”

The term “ecological economics” need not appear in submitted works, but the field’s underlying goals – understanding links among ecological, economic and social systems and advancing sustainability, equity, and human well-being – must be evident.

The Zencey Prize is awarded by the Gund Institute, in collaboration with the U.S. Society of Ecological Economics.

Learn more and submit writing to the Eric Zencey Prize in Ecological Economics.

2019 USSEE Award Winners: Jonathan Harris and Mahadev Bhat

The USSEE is excited to announce our 2019 award recipients: Jonathan Harris of Tufts University for the Herman Daly Award, and Mahadev Bhat of Floridan International University for the Bernado Aguilar Award. Dr. Harris and Dr. Bhat were presented with their awards by USSEE president Robert Richardson at the member luncheon of the 10th biennial conference on Wednesday August 14th.

Herman Daly Award

This award is given in honor of Herman Daly, one of the visionaries who founded the field of ecological economics. The award is designed to recognize individuals who have connected ecological economic thinking to practical applications and implementation of solutions that are sustainable in scale, equitable in distribution and efficient in allocation. An ad-hoc Awards committee, composed of USSEE Board members, convenes prior to the biennial conference, no later than February of the conference year. The committee actively seeks nominations for the award, researches the candidates, and makes a recommendation to the USSEE board as a whole. The board then votes on the award. The award is given in conjunction with the US Society for Ecological Economics biennial conference.

The 2019 Herman Daly Award is presented to Dr. Jonathan M. Harris.

Jonathan Harris is a Senior Research Associate with the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University. Dr. Harris is co-author of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: A Contemporary Approach (4th ed., Routledge, 2018) and of Macroeconomics in Context, Principles of Economics in Context, and Microeconomics in Context (Routledge, 2019), author of “Green Keynesianism: Beyond Standard Growth Paradigms” in Building a Green Economy: Perspectives from Ecological Economics (Robert Richardson ed., MSU Press 2013); co-editor of Twenty-First Century Macroeconomics: Responding to the Climate Challenge (Edward Elgar, 2009), New Thinking in Macroeconomics: Social and Institutional Perspectives (Edward Elgar, 2003), and of the Frontier Issues in Economic Thought volumes A Survey of Sustainable Development, A Survey of Ecological Economics, and Human Well-Being and Economic Goals. He is also editor of Rethinking Sustainability: Power, Knowledge, and Institutions; author of World Agriculture and the Environment; and co-author of environmental teaching modules on climate change, renewable energy, and environmental issues in macroeconomics. He has served as President of the United States Society for Ecological Economics, and as Adjunct Associate Professor of International Economics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

 Bernardo Aguilar Award

This award is given in honor of Bernardo Aguilar, a longtime member of ISEE and USSEE, a current member of the ISEE Board, and a former member of the USSEE Board. The Bernardo Aguilar Award was established in 2007 and is given to a person nominated and selected by students. The award was created to recognize a professional who has inspired students through teaching, research, ideas, and/or mentoring in ecological economics.

The 2019 Bernardo Aguilar Award is presented to Dr. Mahadev G. Bhat.

Dr. Mahadev Bhat is Professor of Natural Resource Economics in the Departments of Earth and Environment and Economics at Florida International University (FIU). Dr. Bhat’s research focuses economic and policy issues relating to natural resources management, including sustainable development, agriculture, water, coastal and marine resources, and ecosystem services valuation. He has more than 250 research articles, book chapters, publications and presentations. He has received research funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Science Foundation, National Parks Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and private foundations. Dr. Bhat has advised more than 30 graduate students and 150 undergraduate students on their research and independent study projects. He co-founded the FIU Agroecology Program with the aid of over 20 different USDA grant programs, which helped train over 400 under-represented students in agricultural and natural resources sciences and prepare them for career and higher education. His USDA-funded grants helped establish a multi-university consortium for training over 150 Hispanic students in South Florida and Puerto Rico. Dr. Bhat co-established the FIU Organic Garden, which serves as a teaching tool in urban and sustainable agriculture. The Garden was designated as a People’s Garden by USDA for having promoted sustainable agriculture education and benefited the FIU student community.

Lizzie King Webinar Recording Available

Advancing the Integration of Ecosystem Services and Livelihood Adaptation

Presented by Lizzie King for the United States Society for Ecological Economics Webinar Series.


The concept of ecosystem services has become a cornerstone in dialogues and policymaking in conservation, natural resource management, and sustainable development. Most methods for ascribing values to the benefits provided by ecosystems are based on a conceptual “flow model” in which natural capital yields services, which in turn yield valued benefits to people. However, in sectors such as rural development and urban planning, there are increasingly vocal criticisms of outcomes that arise when decisions based on optimizing ecosystem services are put in to practice.

In this talk, I will examine two limitations of mainstream conceptualizations of ecosystem service flows, and some methodological tools and cutting edge research from other disciplines that can help overcome those limitations. The first limitation is a failure to account for the range of capabilities that people need in order to co-create ecosystem services, and the second is a failure to formally consider how the benefits and values are distributed among members and segments of society. Principles from Sustainable Livelihood Analysis and the nascent field of adaptation studies can complement ecosystem service analyses and valuations to give more holistic and realistic understandings of ecosystem service flows and who benefits from them.