Matching Items (9)

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Using Games to Explore Collective Action on International Scales

Description

One of the salient challenges of sustainability is the Tragedy of the Commons, where individuals acting independently and rationally deplete a common resource despite their understanding that it is not

One of the salient challenges of sustainability is the Tragedy of the Commons, where individuals acting independently and rationally deplete a common resource despite their understanding that it is not in the group's long term best interest to do so. Hardin presents this dilemma as nearly intractable and solvable only by drastic, government-mandated social reforms, while Ostrom's empirical work demonstrates that community-scale collaboration can circumvent tragedy without any elaborate outside intervention. Though more optimistic, Ostrom's work provides scant insight into larger-scale dilemmas such as climate change. Consequently, it remains unclear if the sustainable management of global resources is possible without significant government mediation. To investigate, we conducted two game theoretic experiments that challenged students in different countries to collaborate digitally and manage a hypothetical common resource. One experiment involved students attending Arizona State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology in the US and Mountains of the Moon University in Uganda, while the other included students at Arizona State and the Management Development Institute in India. In both experiments, students were randomly assigned to one of three production roles: Luxury, Intermediate, and Subsistence. Students then made individual decisions about how many units of goods they wished to produce up to a set maximum per production class. Luxury players gain the most profit (i.e. grade points) per unit produced, but they also emit the most externalities, or social costs, which directly subtract from the profit of everybody else in the game; Intermediate players produce a medium amount of profit and externalities per unit, and Subsistence players produce a low amount of profit and externalities per unit. Variables influencing and/or inhibiting collaboration were studied using pre- and post-game surveys. This research sought to answer three questions: 1) Are international groups capable of self-organizing in a way that promotes sustainable resource management?, 2) What are the key factors that inhibit or foster collective action among international groups?, and 3) How well do Hardin's theories and Ostrom's empirical models predict the observed behavior of students in the game? The results of gameplay suggest that international cooperation is possible, though likely sub-optimal. Statistical analysis of survey data revealed that heterogeneity and levels of trust significantly influenced game behavior. Specific traits of heterogeneity among students found to be significant were income, education, assigned production role, number of people in one's household, college class, college major, and military service. Additionally, it was found that Ostrom's collective action framework was a better predictor of game outcome than Hardin's theories. Overall, this research lends credence to the plausibility of international cooperation in tragedy of the commons scenarios such as climate change, though much work remains to be done.

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Date Created
  • 2014-12

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Rural Electrification in Uganda

Description

Access to reliable electricity is at least a co-requisite to sufficient human development. In many developing countries, the percentages of the rural population that have electricity access are often below

Access to reliable electricity is at least a co-requisite to sufficient human development. In many developing countries, the percentages of the rural population that have electricity access are often below 5%. Specifically in Uganda, only about 2% of the rural population is currently served by the electric grid. To create effective policy and implementation programs, this paper examines the current challenges and implications of the current energy sector of Uganda. Ostrom’s Social-Ecological Systems framework is employed to organize the driving forces, interactions, and key players of the current system, including recent rural electrification programs that have resulted in some success. However, the implications of the current system include multiple barriers to widespread rural electrification, including high costs and little revenue. The push for solar photovoltaic systems in Uganda also has many shortcomings to improving development within the country. I end by discussing an alternative approach to rural electrification called the Empower Ugandans to Power Uganda Project that offers a locally driven effort to electrification and development.

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Understanding the 2010 Human Development Index Calculation

Description

Each year, the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP) publishes the Human Development Index (HDI), which is a composite index that offers a method of evaluating international human development not only

Each year, the United Nation’s Development Program (UNDP) publishes the Human Development Index (HDI), which is a composite index that offers a method of evaluating international human development not only by economic advances but also in terms of the capabilities of individuals within a country. This study investigates the origin of the diminishing returns to HDI, given its important implications for climate policy and development. Specifically, we examine the current HDI calculation procedure to determine if the observed relationship is a factor of dimension normalization and/or aggregation within the HDI calculation.

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Date Created
  • 2012-05-09

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Enhancing Human Development Through Climate Change Policy

Description

Climate Change policy proposals are complicated by the dilemma of fossil fuels, which are both the primary cause of global warming and a necessity for human development. An empirical comparison

Climate Change policy proposals are complicated by the dilemma of fossil fuels, which are both the primary cause of global warming and a necessity for human development. An empirical comparison of the United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI) and per capita CO2 emissions by country confirms that nations with higher HDI values produce more CO2 as a result of greater energy consumption. The comparison also exposes the diminishing returns in human development that accrue as greenhouse gas emissions increase. Taking this relationship into consideration begs the moral question of what responsibility developed countries have to improve conditions in underdeveloped nations. That is, given that climate policy demands management of global CO2 emissions, cuts in the emissions of developed countries could enable emissions increases in underdeveloped countries that result in major improvements in human development.

Nevertheless, the dominant cap and trade climate policy proposals are myopic at addressing these development inequities. While the cap is necessary to curb global CO2 emissions, a market-based approach to trade will result in allocating CO2 emissions to the most profitable countries. Consequently, the relatively inefficient and underdeveloped countries will use the revenue from permit sales to purchase goods from more technologically sophisticated countries, rather than foster domestic production. The capabilities approach stresses that gains in financial resources alone are insufficient to improve the human condition without the supportive services that channel investment toward effective development.

We assert that for developing nations CO2 is a fundamental necessity, given that current technology constraints make CO2 emissions at least a co-requisite to achieving minimally acceptable levels of human development. To this end, we advocate prohibiting CO2 emissions trading between countries of different development stages. Without permit sales, developed countries will have incentives to locate production in underdeveloped countries to comply with carbon caps. Local production in the underdeveloped countries will lead to improvements in the human condition rather than merely fueling consumption from carbon sales revenue.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011-08-15

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An Experiential Pedagogy for Sustainability Ethics

Description

This project is developing and testing a new approach to teaching engineering and science students that leverages their interest in experiment and experience. Unlike a traditional liberal arts pedagogy involving

This project is developing and testing a new approach to teaching engineering and science students that leverages their interest in experiment and experience. Unlike a traditional liberal arts pedagogy involving reading about ethics, discussing the readings, and writing new analyses, this pedagogy uses games to position students in a series of potentially adversarial relationships that force them to confront some of the salient problems of sustainability, including environmental externalities, the Tragedy of the Commons, weak vs. strong sustainability and intra-generational equity. Recent tests allow students at different universities to play the games simultaneously using information communication technologies (ICT). In each game, students must ask themselves the questions related to moral cognition , "What are my obligations to my fellow students?” and moral conation, “What am I willing to risk in my own sense of well-being to meet these obligations?" We hypothesize that this approach will result in students that are actively engaged in learning exercises, and result in an improved ability to identify ethical problems, pose potential solutions, and participate in group deliberations with regard to moral problems.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012-10-16

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An Instructor's Guide to Teaching the Pisces Game for Sustainability Ethics

Description

While sustainability is increasingly recognized as an important ethical principle, teaching ethical reasoning skills appropriate for sustainability is problematic. Using non-cooperative game theory, we simulate problems of collective action where

While sustainability is increasingly recognized as an important ethical principle, teaching ethical reasoning skills appropriate for sustainability is problematic. Using non-cooperative game theory, we simulate problems of collective action where tension exists between individual interests and group benefit using grade points. Each of our ethics games brings students completely around the Kolb Learning cycle, which includes four stages:
       1. Abstract conceptualization.
       2. Active experimentation.
       3. Concrete experience.
       4. Reflective observation.
Our pedagogy is organized into game modules that start with a review of theory and relevant concepts in the form of assigned readings and lectures.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012-08-22

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Examining a sustainable approach to global climate change policy

Description

The United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes development as a priority for carbon dioxide (CO2) allocation, under its principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". This was codified

The United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes development as a priority for carbon dioxide (CO2) allocation, under its principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities". This was codified in the Kyoto Protocol, which exempt developing nations from binding emission reduction targets. Additionally, they could be the recipients of financed sustainable development projects in exchange for emission reduction credits that the developed nations could use to comply with emission targets. Due to ineffective results, post-Kyoto policy discussions indicate a transition towards mitigation commitments from major developed and developing emitters, likely supplemented by market-based mechanisms to reduce mitigation costs. Although the likelihood of achieving substantial emission reductions is increased by the new plan, there is a paucity of consideration to how an ethic of development might be advanced. Therefore, this research empirically investigates the role that CO2 plays in advancing human development (in terms of the Human Development Index or HDI) over the 1990 to 2010 time period. Based on empirical evidence, a theoretical CO2-development framework is established, which provides a basis for designing a novel policy proposal that integrates mitigation efforts with human development objectives. Empirical evidence confirms that CO2 and HDI are highly correlated, but that there are diminishing returns to HDI as per capita CO2 emissions increase. An examination of development pathways reveals that as nations develop, their trajectories generally become less coupled with CO2. Moreover, the developing countries with the greatest gains in HDI are also nations that have, or are in the process of moving toward, outward-oriented trade policies that involve increased domestic capabilities for product manufacture and export. With these findings in mind, future emission targets should reduce current emissions in developed nations and allow room for HDI growth in developing countries as well as in the least developed nations of the world. Emission trading should also be limited to nations with similar HDI levels to protect less-developed nations from unfair competition for capacity building resources. Lastly, developed countries should be incentivized to invest in joint production ventures within the LDCs to build capacity for self-reliant and sustainable development over the long-term.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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Robustness and Extensibility in Infrastructure Systems

Description

Resilient infrastructure research has produced a myriad of conflicting definitions and analytic frameworks, highlighting the difficulty of creating a foundational theory that informs disciplines as diverse as business, engineering, ecology,

Resilient infrastructure research has produced a myriad of conflicting definitions and analytic frameworks, highlighting the difficulty of creating a foundational theory that informs disciplines as diverse as business, engineering, ecology, and disaster risk reduction. Nevertheless, there is growing agreement that resilience is a desirable property for infrastructure systems – i.e., that more resilience is always better. Unfortunately, this view ignore that the fact that a single concept of resilience is insufficient to ensure effective performance under diverse and volatile stresses. Scholarship in resilience engineering has identified at least four irreducible resilience concepts, including: rebound, robustness, graceful extensibility, and sustained adaptability.

In this paper, we clarify the meaning of the word resilience and its use, explain the advantages of the pluralistic approach to advancing resilience theory, and clarify two of the four conceptual understandings: robustness and graceful extensibility. Furthermore, we draw upon examples in electric power, transportation, and water systems that illustrate positive and negative cases of resilience in infrastructure management and crisis response. The following conclusions result:

1. Robustness and graceful extensibility are different strategies for resilience that draw upon different system characteristics.
2. Neither robustness nor extensibility can prevent all hazards.
3. While systems can perform both strategies simultaneously, their drawbacks are different.

Robust infrastructure systems fail when policies and procedures become stale, or when faced with overwhelming surprise. Extensible systems fail when a lack of coordination or exhaustion of resources results from decompensation. Consequently, resilience is found neither only in robustness, nor only in extensibility, but in the capacity apply both and switch between them at will.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-07-17