Technology is one thing to adapt to climate change, but technology alone is not enough. Strong policy structure is also needed for practical implementation.
To take the test, the former Loyola University Institute of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Chicago in 2002 completed the transition to a new level of environmental sustainability last year. Total enrollment of 400 to 500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the program includes training for nonprofits or approximately 75 master’s degree students for further research.
In addition to doubling the budget, the new school continues to add academic programs, hiring 101 new faculty members, including Gilbert Mikhad, Ph.D., and recently hired an assistant professor of environmental policy. Mikad was a former lecturer at the University of Ohio.
For Loyola and Mikaud, the biggest mission is taking public policy education to the next level. Mikaud is ready to use his background in public policy research – with extensive experience working with policy makers and stakeholders – to enhance Loyola’s profile by enhancing his students’ ability to influence their local environmental policy.
Mikaud recently spoke to Energy News Network about how he wants to promote his new position on climate change solutions. The following exchange has been modified for clarity and length.
Q: What drew you to Loyola?
A: The most exciting thing about Loyola was that all the students were basically studying energy, the environment and sustainability, which was my background and research address. And it was exciting for me to be able to go home so accurately with environmental policies, with electricity rates, pollution, reduction, trade demand reform, entrepreneurship, sustainable transportation – all these exciting things.
I think being in Chicago opens up a lot of opportunities. I am a faculty member of the University of Michigan. I have been in Ohio for the last four or five years. But if you want to be in Chicago, it’s the right capital of the Midwest. I think it will allow me to take my work to the regional level of the Middle East.
Q: What role do you want your students to play in the development of this program or in implementing policy changes or other energy-related changes?
A: I think we have some amazing chemists and engineers and material scientists who are making a lot of progress in terms of material science, developing new types of photovoltaic and so on. But the reality is that there is a pro-democracy policy in the United States that has sparked renewable energy. This is why Minnesota has a lot of community sunshine, even though the northern states are relatively sunny compared to states like Texas. But to encourage that, he had a truly progressive, truly supportive policy strategy.
So what I’m studying is whether governments accept things like wind and solar energy and what we can learn from each other. When we think of ways to support clean energy and develop new jobs and protect the environment and everything we worry about.
Q: Your background is in public policy research, energy policy and urban planning. How does that experience relate to Loyola’s mission in the program?
Answer: The history of the school is rooted in natural science. There are many ecologists and biologists who specialize in sustainable agriculture and biology. But they did not have many economists and policy scholars. And that’s where I agree, both in class and in research. I think the goal of the school is to create social change agents. Like I said, we are at a level where students are passionate about sustainability and climate change and the environment. How can we really educate and equip them with the tools they need to implement change?
Q: You stated that your special study is practical research. How will that be revealed to you?
A: Much of what we are doing is trying to analyze stakeholders by trying to understand the political and practical feasibility of policies. You may have a really big vision for change or a really amazing idea, but you really need to know who we are in government and the role of big appliances and lobbyists in understanding how to implement it. Change. So, a lot of my work in history has been to work with industry, with local NGOs, with regional and local governments, to be an independent academic voice.
Q: Which classes do you teach?
Answer: I am teaching local law and policy, and I may be teaching energy studies. There are three policy courses in the spring. I still don’t know my schedule. But how can my students, who I want to see and learn, be good policy analysts? And the most basic practice we use as a practical example is to write a policy brief.
Q: How much do you interact with stakeholders in the community, policy makers in Springfield, or even in Chicago?
Answer: We have high hopes. Again, as I said, I hung up my hat while conducting a professional scholarship, practical policy research. And so, I did a lot of work on electrical appliances. I have done extensive research with the NRDC (Council for Natural Resources Protection) and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. And we have the Illinois Local Council and people like state and local public utilities or public service commissions.
I think I’ll probably go to Springfield a little bit. I actually lived in Athens, Ohio, where my former university was, but I myself moved to Columbus because I was often in the House of Commons and the Public Utilities Commission. Before that I was in Richmond, Virginia. I participated with the State Capitol. So, they have done a lot of work with the Department of Environmental Quality and other state agencies. And my mission is to develop a group of my students. We have a lot of work to do in Chicago with state and county sustainable people in the state of Illinois. And even in the Middle West.
Q: What major projects are you currently working on?
A: Our largest project is a new grant from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Solar Energy Technologies, which examines solar energy growth and community impact across the Middle East. I brought the gift from the University of Ohio. This is a project that I, along with colleagues at the University of Michigan, the State of Michigan and the State of Iowa, will do. What we are looking at is the growth of the sun throughout the Middle East across the utility scale.
Q: What are some of the questions you are investigating in this project?
A: Midwest is a really exciting place for utility-scale renewable energy projects. Many of the developers who build these projects are very rural. They are not even assigned to the sun, nor are they really prepared for the discussion of how to interact with the developer and the various states, there are basically different types of control and approval processes to accept or accept. The project to be built or not allowed. Some of these occur locally. Some states hold this more at the regional level. There is a public utility commission, there is some kind of power board or something.
And so, the $ 1 million project we are working on over the next three years is basically trying to study these effects of the sun on the utility of rural communities in the Middle West. I interview landlords, farmers, local elected officials, county commissioners, the media, to understand how the general public is learning about the project, and to interview many different stakeholders, including the developers. What it means in terms of local decision-making processes.
We want to be able to better equip and explore the water so that we can disseminate our findings and provide solutions for rural communities who can see these big solar project proposals.
Q: What does success in Loyola mean to you?
A: For me, I think success at the university is the school and recognition in the state of Chicago as well as in the Middle East and nationally as a high school. And directing students as agents of social and environmental change, then getting them jobs or pushing them into high school and then moving them into communities and implementing that change.