You are Invited: Rebuilding the American Economy – One Heirloom Tomato at a Time

United States Studies and the Program on America and the Global Economy

of the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Chesapeake Bay Trust

invite you to a conference:

Rebuilding the American Economy—

One Heirloom Tomato at a Time

The food system of the United States is currently witnessing a remarkable shift, with the revival of small farms and artisanal producers working with restaurants, institutional food services, and retail outlets to make locally-sourced, sustainably-produced food more widely available. This shift has both stimulated and is now responding to a growing demand from “locavore,” health-conscious consumers in ways that are affecting America’s economy as well as its eating habits and well-being. Join us for a day-long conference to explore this conjuncture.

Friday, March 4, 2011, 8:45 a.m.

All panels will be held in the 6th Floor Auditorium

Woodrow Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20004–3027

Directions are available at our website at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/directions/

This is a free public event, but RSVPs are requested.

Please respond with acceptances only to usstudies@wilsoncenter.org

Reception co-sponsored by Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, Vermont,

and Dino’s Restaurant,  Washington, D.C.

Posted by: PAGE Staff

PAGE Meets with a Delegation from the National Defense University

On Monday, January 31 Woodrow Wilson Center and the Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE) hosted students and faculty from the National Defense University (NDU) for a discussion on the history of the Russian energy economy and its prospects for the coming years.  Attending from NDU were members of the army, navy, air force, reserve branches, and foreign countries including Macedonia, Japan, Mongolia, and Norway.  PAGE director Kent Hughes led a discussion focused on Russia and its role in the world energy market.  Hughes highlighted past fluctuations in Russia’s energy production, and addressed some of the challenges facing the country moving forward.

Once the “breadbasket of Europe,” the former Soviet Union boasted a large agricultural sector, but only a small energy industry leading up to World War II.  While the region’s energy riches helped drive the industrialization of the mid 20th century, Hughes noted that their economy remained “quite inefficient,” and bequeathed the lack of a “vibrant manufacturing industry” to  post-Soviet Russia.  The energy industry enabled growth, but also exposed the Russian economy to shifts in global energy prices.  The Soviet Union’s vulnerability to global prices was made clear when Saudi Arabian oil producers caused a price drop in the late 1980s.  The sharp drop in prices contributed to an economic malaise and helped push Gorbachev’s reforms that, in turn, helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Read more of this post

You are Invited – Book Launch: The New Cool

The Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE) Presents a Book Discussion:

THE NEW COOL: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 ~ 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Neal Bascomb, Author

Commentator:  Mark Hannum, Educator, Thomas Jefferson School For Science and Technology

Moderated by: Kent Hughes, Director, PAGE, Woodrow Wilson Center

When Dean Kamen, a millionaire inventor, realized that most kids couldn’t name a living scientist, he created the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition to encourage high-school students to consider scientific careers.

In The New Cool, Bascomb follows FIRST team 1717, the D’Penguineers, from Goleta, California, during the 2009 season. The team of high-school seniors, all rookie robot builders, is led by Amir Abo-Shaeer, a physics teacher.  The astonishing story of a team of high school seniors and their remarkable mentor, who come together—not to play a sport or exercise their athletic prowess—but rather to build a machine that will battle in the most heated, sophisticated robotics contest in the world.  The FIRST competition, sponsored by genius inventor Kamen, is jumpstarting American innovation for the next generation—and beyond.

Please RSVP acceptances only to page@wilsoncenter.org or 202-691-4206. A live webcast can be viewed at http://www.wilsoncenter.org. Directions to the Woodrow Wilson Center can be found at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/directions.

Posted by: PAGE Staff

The Future of U.S. – E.U. Energy Cooperation

The following is an event summary from a program held by the European Studies Program and the  Program on America and the Global Economy at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Chief of staff at the Office of the Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy at the U.S. Department of State, Vincent J. O’brien, stated that “stakes for an energy secure future have never been higher than they are today.” Cooperation is needed on securing new resources of natural gas, diversifying energy sources and creating a more integrated European energy market. Given that the U.S.–EU trade relationship is the largest in the world and that the economies are increasingly becoming interdependent, Europe’s energy security is naturally in the best interest of the U.S. While the dynamics behind Europe’s energy concerns are complex, pipeline politics seem to dominate discussions.

To help combine efforts and formalize ongoing discussions between the U.S. and the EU on these issues, the creation of a U.S.–EU Energy Council was realized in November of 2009. The Council is divided into three main working groups addressing: energy security and new markets to help secure new natural gas resources; standards and policies to harmonize the ongoing work on electric cars, smart grids and other technologies; and technical research and development to cooperate on research for carbon capture and storage, rare earths and renewable technologies. Read more of this post

Updated Invitation – Rethinking Retirement: The Past and Future of Social Security

The United States Studies Program and the Program on America and the Global Economy of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars invite you to a Panel Discussion

RETHINKING RETIREMENT: THE PAST AND FUTURE OF SOCIAL SECURITY

with panelists

Andrew Biggs Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Charles Blahous Senior Research Fellow, New America Foundation

Ross Eisenbrey Vice President, Economic Policy Institute

Heidi Hartmann President, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Barbara Kennelly President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Medicare and Social Security

Mitchell Orenstein Associate Professor of European Studies, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

The future of Social Security is central to discussions of the current budget crisis, but whether—and how—it can be reformed remains to be seen. Policymakers and analysts have offered a range of proposals, many of them based on differing demographic projections and assessments of the future solvency of the Social Security Fund. A group of leading experts will come together to discuss the current state of Social Security and how it will affect Americans’ retirement plans in the future.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 3:00pm – 5:00 pm

Sixth Floor Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C.

This is a free public event, but RSVPs are requested. Please respond with acceptances only to usstudies@wilsoncenter.org

Posted by: PAGE Staff

Gender Equality in STEM Education

Improving STEM education has been a hallmark of the Obama Administration’s effort to keep American industry at the forefront of the technology sector in the 21st century, and as part of his “Educate to Innovate” initiative the President plans to devote $2.3 million for the “Women’s Educational Equity Program.” Recognizing the gaps in career prospects and achievement for women in the sciences, the program aims to help women match the gains achieved elsewhere in the professional world in fields of engineering and technology, where the workforce was over 75% male in 2009.

A recent report by the Harvard Family Research Project addressed this issue and suggested that an effective strategy for encouraging girls’ interest in STEM ought to focus on Out of School Time (OST) programs that offer a “non-threatening, non-academic environment for hands-on learning.”  The Canadian Association for Girls in Science gives students ages seven to sixteen just such a chance to meet successful female engineers, tour factories, and talk with mentors.  Curry Jahnke, one of the Association’s coordinators, touted the program’s ability to “destroy gender-based stereotypes,” and “increase the likelihood they may pursue this type of education as a future career.”

Many initiatives encouraging girls to further their STEM education focus on K-12 education, while admitting that the wide gender disparity in engineering jobs will not change overnight.  Advocates such as Shelley Correll, a sociology professor at Stanford, however, remain optimistic that undermining stereotypes and expanding opportunities can be successful in increasing the representation of women in STEM fields over the long-term.

Posted by: John Coit

Sources: Harvard Family Research Project, Insidehalton.com, Physorg.com, U.S. Department of Education,  The Washington Post

Photo Credit: P7100019 courtesy of flickr user scholz

The Quirkiness of Individual Innovation

Innovative firms often seek input from consumers for product design, testing, and assessment of other needs in deciding what new products are viable for development.  However, consumers acting as the driver of key innovative ideas is still seen as a novelty.  Great innovations need not originate in a lab by a clever engineer; they can come from resourceful individuals trying to solve their own problems.

A  1976 MIT study found that 80% of innovations concerning scientific instruments are in fact invented, proto-typed, and field-tested by users rather than manufacturers.  A number of popular products, including the mountain bike, came to the market as a result of lone innovators or local communities working together.  However, individual innovation can also be very challenging, as everyone has a creative comfort level based on their willingness to risk new ideas.  Pushing people beyond this level has been found to cause stress or unhappiness.

To help facilitate the difficult process of developing a product and bringing it to market, a website called Quirky was launched in which innovators could pitch their ideas to like-minded entrepreneurial spirits.  There, potential collaborators can evaluate rudimentary product ideas and decide if they would like to contribute their particular skill set in bringing the product to market.  In a sense, Quirky utilizes social media to organize economic activity and help innovators pursue their ideas.  So far the website has helped develop spatulas, an ice scraper, and an iPad stand.

Posted by:  Jason Schall

Sources: Businessweek, designnews.com, jpb.com, lohud.com, mit.edu, topnews.us

Photo Credit: jellyfish_sonic courtesy of flickr user bbaunch