Innovation Clinic, Round 2

Ramboll Consulting

Hannah Stroud, Elaine Montes, Michael Cole, and Tania Ploumi are partnering with the Livable Cities Lab of Ramboll, a Danish engineering, design and consultancy company. The group is creating a business case for addressing Climate Justice in urban planning by connecting social indicators to dollar values. The hope is for methods to include social benefits in a cost benefit analysis.

Ojai, California

Adam Reilly and Raymond Chen are working in a supportive role with FlipLabs and Carnegie Mellon University through their continued partnership with the City of Ojai in addressing the issue of water scarcity. We aim to create a framework for a more robust water model that can help influence decision-making around water policy.

Trust for Public Land

Courtney Humphries, Jack Whitacre, and Stephan Maranian are working with The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit whose purpose is to “create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come.” This group is aiming to transform an abandoned lot into a recreational park that is climate-adaptive, resilient, and connects the neighborhood to their lands and their community. The students are looking for innovative solutions to stormwater management as one part of a larger Greenway project.

Nagoya Protocol

Candace Famiglietti, Steven Reitz, Brianna Shaughnessy are working with Alexerion, a biotech startup that is in partnership with MIT. Their implementation of the Nagoya Protocol is an understanding of the power dynamics between user and provider countries, as well as researchers and participants. This group is compiling case studies of both successes and failures, realizing that at the heart of each example is the need to start at the community level and work up. If the Nagoya Protocol is to be successful it must build off of its current case studies and work with companies such as Alxerion, leading to a streamlined and regionally-specific approach to its governance.

Michael Cole, Barbuda

During the summer, I spent several months embedded in the coastal community of Barbuda. Barbuda is a small (62 sq. mi) twin island nation located in the Eastern Caribbean, approximately 25 miles to the north of the mainland, Antigua. My aim was to learn more about the realities on the ground in Barbuda following the devastating Category 5 Hurricane Irma that decimated the island in September 2017.

The crippled and overturned mangroves, twisted metal and crumbling concrete strewn across nearly every street corner and plot of land served as a visible reminder of the existential, albeit unevenly distributed threat that climate change represents for humankind. Despite the carnage, Barbuda is a dreamscape.

The terrain is endowed with unspoiled, dynamic coral reef-dyed pink and white sand beaches juxtaposed by hypnotic turquoise water, intricate cave systems designed by endless volleys of Atlantic ocean waves cover the North while iridescent plains of salt enrich the south.

Over a span of several weeks, I volunteered with the local government known as the Barbuda Council (BC) as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Red Cross. My tasks ranged from picking up debris and building roofs to organizing government files and training the BC’s nascent civil service.

My visibility within the community helped me to build networks of trust in addition to several enduring friendships that could facilitate future research and collaboration. My immersion into the history, culture, and current political contestation around land tenure and environmental issues in Antigua and Barbuda has given me a glimpse of the complex challenges as well as potential opportunities that exist for coastal communities across diverse developmental and environmental conditions


Continued Research in Rwanda

Cohort 2017 Fellow Candace Famiglietti is planning to continue her research in Rwanda, looking at the politics of innovation and the role of entrepreneurship in sustainable state development. This research comes at a time when the development paradigm is elevating the role of the private sector and science and technology in sustainable development – a framework that considers social cohesion, environmental protection, and economic growth as mutually supporting. State-led initiatives for poverty reduction are establishing Rwanda as a hot spot for startups and venture capital in the African continent, leading to high economic growth (8% per annum), poverty reduction, and increased equality (World Bank, Rwanda Overview 2017). Her research seeks to understand if and how Rwanda is fostering a national system of truly sustainable innovation and development, and if so, can this knowledge be transferred to other nation’s development models.