Urban Sustainability Governance Through Indicators with Laureen Elgert

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Date(s) - 02/18/2016
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Urban Sustainability Governance Through Indicators: The Politics and Practicalities of STAR Communities

Thursday 18th February, Noon to 1pm (LUNCH PROVIDED)

Location: Allbritton 311

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Indicators are increasingly used by US cities and towns to provide citizens and policy makers with a ‘snapshot’ of sustainability, to diagnose policy performance and guide improved decision-making. While this rather neutral, instrumental view of indicators persists, critical policy analysis increasingly points to the ways in which indicator programs drive policy in unexpected ways, and reproduce inter-urban inequalities. This research examines STAR Communities, a relatively new indicator system for US municipalities, and finds that the program has been engaged differently in different urban localities, with surprising outcomes.

About Laureen Elgert (presenter) 

Laureen’s research focuses on the complex interface between knowledge, policy, practice and outcomes in environmental governance with an empirical focus on protected areas, sustainable commodity certification, farming systems and agriculture and sustainability indicators.   She examines themes such as the politics of sustainability, environmental expertise and evidence-based policy, and, the trade-offs and synergies between local livelihoods and global environmental outcomes. Laureen is assistant professor of environmental studies and international development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in Worcester, Massachusetts.  She is trained in anthropology (BA, Trent University, Canada), public health (MSc, University of Alberta, Canada), and international development studies (PhD, London School of Economics and Political Science).  She has been an environmental researcher for 10 years – much of her research focused on South America (Paraguay, Brazil) – and has taught environmental studies full time for 9 years in the US and the UK. Laureen’s current research interests include sustainability indicators, eco-labels and ‘climate-smart’ urban agriculture and food security. 


Jennifer Roach is the Civic Engagement Fellow in Allbritton for the academic year 2015-2016. She is a recent Wesleyan alumni, class of 2014. Since graduating, she has moved to Hartford to continue developing Summer of Solutions Hartford, an urban farming internship program she worked on during her time at Wesleyan.