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The National Climate Assessment, which is conducted every four years and submitted to the President and Congress, provides an assessment of the state of knowledge about climate change and its impacts in the U.S. The report was mandated by the 1990 Global Change Research Act. The first assessment was produced in 2000, and the next one is due to be released in 2013. By statute, before release, it must be reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. NAS has recently put together the panel that will review the report. The 23-member panel is comprised of scholars from across the country in a wide range of fields. Professor Kathleen Segerson has been appointed as a panel member. As part of her appointment, she will be responsible for providing comments and feedback on the draft report to the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program, which is responsible for preparing the report. After the review process is completed, the final report will be available to the public at http://www.globalchange.gov/what-we-do/assessment/nca-overview.
This year’s Austin Forum will feature a presentation by Prof. Jonathan Gruber, entitled “Health Care Reform in the U.S.: What Happened and Where Do We Go Now?” It will take place on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. in the Konover Auditorium of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. This event is open to the public.
Jonathan Gruber is a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992. He was a key architect of Massachusetts’ health care reform effort and has been a consultant on health care reform for the Clinton, Edwards, and Obama presidential campaigns. The Washington Post called him “possibly the [Democratic] party’s most influential health-care expert.” In addition, in 2006 he was named the 19th most powerful person in health care in the United States by Modern Healthcare Magazine.
In addition, Professor Gruber is the Director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a Research Associate, and the author of a leading undergraduate textbook Public Finance and Public Policy. He is also a co-editor of the Journal of Public Economics and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Health Economics.
The purpose of the Forum is to provide an opportunity for discussion and debate about U.S.: What current public policy issues from an economic perspective. The Forum is funded through the Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair, which is currently held by Professor Kathleen Segerson in the Department of Economics.
Prof. Langlois will be one of five inductees at the annual dinner meeting of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences. It will take place in the North Reading Room of the Wilbur Cross Building on March 30.
The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences was chartered by the State of Connecticut in 1799. It is the third oldest learned society in the United States. Its founders include Noah Webster and Ezra Stiles. Its official purpose is “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest and happiness of a free and virtuous people.” Currently, almost 60 University of Connecticut faculty are members of the Academy, including fellow department member Prof. Segerson
Prof. Segerson is the invited editor of a forthcoming volume on the Economics of Pollution Control, which is scheduled for publication in February 2011 by Edward Elgar Publishers. The book collects 26 previously published articles that provide a contemporary overview of this field. Rather than highlighting classic papers in the field, the volume focuses on more recent key contributions, highlighting advances in theory, models, and empirical methods that have occurred over the past ten to fifteen years. The included papers illustrate the wide range of contexts and ways in which the insights from economics in general, and environmental economics in particular, can inform current policy debates over pressing environmental issues. The volume is part of Elgar’s The International Library of Critical Writings in Economics series.
Professor Kathleen Segerson has just finished serving on a panel of the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) charged with reviewing the Obama Administration’s draft revision of the federal “Principles and Guidelines” for water resources management. The Principles and Guidelines provide guidance to federal agencies involved in water project evaluation and planning and restoration. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007 mandated that these guidelines be revised to reflect current concerns, priorities and methods, and required that the proposed revisions be reviewed by the NAS. The revisions are intended, among other things, to ensure that the principles and guidelines embody the use of “best available economic principles and analytical techniques”. The Obama Administration issued a draft revision of the P&G document in December of 2009. A 13-member interdisciplinary panel was appointed by the NRC to review that draft and make recommendations for improvements. Segerson served as one of three economists on the panel. The panel’s report, which recommends significant changes to the proposed new guidelines as they relate to economic analysis, will be sent to the Obama Administration and released to the public on December 2.
Professor Kathy Segerson is a member of the Chartered Board of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), which meets regularly to provide EPA with scientific and technical advice about proposed regulatory changes, research and budget priorities, and other Agency activities. The SAB is an interdisciplinary board comprised primarily of academics, but also includes individuals who work for state governments or in the private sector. While most members have expertise in the biological, physical and health sciences, the Board also includes social scientists, reflecting EPA’s increasingly recognition of the important role that economic and social factors play in advancing its mission. Professor Segerson is currently in her second 3-year term on the Board. Among her most notable contributions while serving on the Board is her leadership as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Valuing the Protection of Ecological Systems and Services, which prepared a comprehensive report (pdf) for EPA that provides advice to the Agency on how it can improve valuation of the ecological effects of its various decisions and programs.
Zinnia Mukherjee defended her dissertation in December 2009, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at Connecticut College, New London, CT. Her dissertation, titled “Three Essays on Conservation of Endangered Species”, analyzes the effectiveness of policies involving regulatory threats in controlling stochastic externalities. In addition, the dissertation analyzes the welfare effects of unilateral conservation policies in an open economy under alternative market structures and resource management regimes. Zinnia’s advisor is Prof. Segerson.
Currently, Zinnia is working on two new research projects. The first is funded by the UConn Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering through a Multidisciplinary Research Award that Zinnia received in 2009. The project develops a bio-economic discrete choice model to analyze how fishers decide to allocate their fishing effort among various fish species and fishing zones, given that species vary in terms of their sensitivity to marine hypoxia. The impact of marine hypoxia on fish landings is estimated for several Long Island Sound fisheries located in different areas along the coast of Connecticut. The second project looks at the impact of differences in U.S. state laws on the incidence of crime against women (sexual crimes) and the potential migration of repeat offenders across states to target preys more easily and escape harsher penalty sentences.
At UConn, Zinnia has taught a wide variety of undergraduate courses. She had been actively involved with the Association of Graduate Economic Students (AGES) throughout her grad school years and presided over the organization in 2007-2008. She is currently enjoying her work experience at Connecticut College.
For the second time in recent months, the Economics Department has had one of its students, Mark Connolly, chosen for the prestigious designation of University Scholar. Mark’s selection follows on the heels of the selection in August of Philip Gorecki, a double major in economics and molecular and cell biology. Administered by the Honors Program, the highly-selective University Scholars program is designed to provide “the most academically elite students at UConn” an opportunity to advance their UConn education through this special program. A key part of the program is in-depth and focused research on a project of the student’s choice. Mark was one of only 24 students recently selected as 2010 University Scholars.
Mark is pursuing dual degrees in Accounting and Economics, and is working toward his CPA degree. He is particularly interested in auditing and in environmental economics and has thus chosen to focus his project on environmental auditing. He will be studying the role that accounting firms can and do play in environmental auditing, and the potential for auditing to provide valuable information both to the audited firms and to the public. He is particularly interested in the use of audits as third-party certification. Mark will be interning this summer with PricewaterhouseCoopers to gain a greater understanding of the audit process. His faculty advisors on this project will be Professor Lawrence Gramling in the School of Business, and Professors Kathleen Segerson and Olivier Morand, both in Economics.
One advantage of the Scholars’ program is the flexibility it offers students in designing their plans of study. Mark has structured his plan of study and remaining coursework to give him the background necessary for his project. In the course of doing this, he will also be preparing himself for his next goal, graduate study in environmental economics. One day he hopes to be a research professor bridging the gap between industry and environmental protection.
On Thursday, April 1, the day before the Graduate Reunion and Forum, the Department of Economics will host the first Philip E. Austin Forum on Economics and Public Policy. The purpose of the Forum is to provide an opportunity for discussion and debate about current public policy issues from an economic perspective. The Forum is funded through the Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair, which is currently held by Economics Professor Kathleen Segerson.
Given the prominence of the current debate about climate change, including the recent international climate change summit in Copenhagen, we have chosen to focus this first Austin Forum on this important and controversial issue. The featured speaker at the Forum will be Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins, who will present a talk entitled “Climate Change Policy After Copenhagen”. Professor Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program. He is a world-renowned economist, who has been working on the economics of climate change and the design of “cap-and-trade” systems for decades. Professor Stavins was recently honored as a 2009 Fellow [pdf] of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE). The award was given by Professor Segerson, who is the current President of AERE, at the annual AERE luncheon at the ASSA meetings in Atlanta . In bestowing the award, she quoted from letters of support that stated: “In my view, no other environmental economist can match Rob in the ability to work effectively with policy makers…I cannot think of another current environmental economist who straddles more effectively the academic and policy communities” and Rob “has probably done more than any other single environmental economist to bring the idea of tradable emission permits (“cap and trade”) to the attention of policy-makers as a viable alternative for the management of pollution levels.” Professor Stavins also writes a regular blog on An Economic View of the Environment.
The Austin Forum is scheduled for 4:00 PM in the Student Union Auditorium and is open to all interested members of the UConn community and the public. President Emeritus Philip Austin, Provost Peter Nicholls, and CLAS Dean Jeremy Teitelbaum plan to attend this event.
At the recent Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA) meeting in Atlanta, GA, Professor Kathy Segerson was awarded the 2009 Publication of Enduring Quality Award by the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE). This award, instituted in 1989, is given annually to the author(s) of a publication that is deemed to have had a lasting and significant impact on the field of environmental and natural resource economics. Professor Segerson received the award for her paper entitled “Uncertainty and Incentives for Nonpoint Pollution Control,” which was published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management in 1988. During the award ceremony, the presenter of the award noted that “Dr. Segerson’s paper was the first to incorporate the fundamental characteristics of nonpoint source pollution into a formal theoretical model to study efficient tax schemes.” This paper proposed an innovative policy approach to controlling agricultural production based on observations of ambient water quality, which some have termed the “Segerson mechanism”. In recent years, it is spawned a number of studies that have examined the incentives created by this mechanism and related ambient-based policies using economic laboratory experiments.