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Ogmius Newsletter

Graduate Student News

The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research is home to several graduate students studying the interface of science and policy.  Here’s what some of them are up to:

Adam Briggle, an Environmental Studies Ph.D. candidate, is writing his dissertation titled "The President's Council on Bioethics: Science, Democracy, and the Good Life." His short-term future prospects are highly uncertain.

Erik Fisher will defend and hopes to graduate in May with a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies.  The tentative title of his dissertation is "Midstream Modulation: A Case Study in the Implementation of US Federal Nanotechnology "Ethics Policy.""  Erik has a fellowship to study technology assessment in the Netherlands this summer and plans to start as a post-doc at ASU jointly for the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes (CSPO) and the Center for Nanotechnology and Society (CNS).

Joel Gratz is completing both his MBA and his M.S. in Environmental Studies this May. Joel hopes to stay in Boulder and to continue working for ICAT, a Boulder-based hurricane and earthquake insurance company, in a role that combines both science and business responsibilities.

Jimmy Hague is finishing up his first year in Environmental Studies with plans to graduate next May.  This summer he will be traveling to London to do an internship with the U.S. State Department.  He will serve as the science and environment intern at the American Embassy.

Nat Logar recently passed his preliminary examinations in Environmental Studies and is planning to defend his prospectus at the end of the spring semester.

Genevieve Maricle successfully passed her comprehensive exams in March, and is now set to spend many long days and nights staring at her computer struggling with her dissertation (titled: "Shaping Science: How to Turn Science Studies into Science Action") this coming year.  She was also recently appointed chair of the campus-wide Environmental Justice Initiative.

Elizabeth McNie recently defended her prospectus and is now working full-time on her dissertation titled "Co-producing useful scientific information for climate policy: Informing science policy and decision support." She will graduate in May 2007.

Shali Mohleji is working on her Ph.D, focusing on homeland security policy.  She will be interning for her second summer at the Office of Management and Budget.

Elizabeth McNie Presentations

In March, ENVS Ph.D candidate Elizabeth McNie presented a poster at the 36th Annual Arctic Workshop, held at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado titled, "Exploring Climate Change Issues in Iceland: The Perils and Promise of Interdisciplinary Research." The poster highlighted preliminary findings on paleoclimate research and climate policy research conducted with an interdisciplinary team during the summer of 2005 with co-authors Yarrow Axford, Amanda Haag, and Hillary Rosner. In April, Elizabeth presented a poster titled, "Linking Science with Policy: Are Boundary Organizations the Answer?" at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Member's Council All-Institute Symposium. This poster highlighted research related to Elizabeth's dissertation with regard to organizations that span the gap between the culture of science and the culture of policy in order to increase the utility of scientific information for policy decisions. Elizabeth also recently presented a workshop for the Lead Graduate Teacher Program called, "Building Healthy Group Dynamics in the Classroom."

Center Students Present Posters at CIRES Symposium

In addition to Elizabeth McNie, two other Center graduate students presented posters at the first institute-wide symposium sponsored by CIRES:

  • Science Policy Assessment and Research on Climate by Genevieve Maricle
  • Integrating Societal Concerns into Nanotechnology Research by Erik Fisher

Marilyn Averill Presentations

ENVS Ph.D candidate Marilyn Averill gave the following two presentations this spring.

Averill, M.  "Climate Litigation: Democratic Participation, and Civic Education."  Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting, March 19, 2006.


This paper will consider the implications of current climate-related litigation for democratic participation and policy development.  Joseph Sax describes environmental litigation as “a means of access for the ordinary citizen to the process of governmental decision-making.”  Sheila Jasanoff emphasizes the importance of litigation in civic education and in providing information “about the epistemological, social, and moral dilemmas” associated with science and technology issues.  Others argue that environmental litigation undermines democracy by shifting decisions away from elected officials.  Robert Kagan maintains that adversarial legalism can block cooperation and frustrate justice.  Much of the work on environmental litigation focuses on cases filed under citizen suit provisions in environmental laws.  Current U.S. climate litigation includes cases based on a variety of legal theories and allows study of the role of the courts in an area where Congress has not yet provided explicit legislation. Climate litigation, as publicized by the media, may serve to educate the public about the science of climate change, alert people to possible impacts from a changing climate, identify possible winners and losers and illuminate equity issues, raise questions about responsibility for injuries resulting from climate change, and stimulate debate about how society should balance environmental and economic costs and benefits and how to make decisions when science is uncertain.

Averill, M.  "Climate in the Courtroom."  Presentation at "Coping with Climate Change: A Symposium Highlighting Activities at the University of Colorado to Help Decision Makers Prepare for the Future", April 4, 2006.


Citizens concerned about climate change are turning to the courts to resolve climate-related issues.  Litigants will use law, science, economics, ethics, policy, and other fields in arguments to support of their claims.  Climate litigation provides a laboratory for study of how courts integrate these factors to influence policy and how court decisions may shape perceptions about the components themselves.

Each court decision will shape climate policy and have implications far beyond the courtroom.  Challenges against state and federal governments will clarify their authority and responsibility to address climate issues under existing law. Claims against industry will determine whether corporations should be held responsible for actions contributing to the greenhouse effect.  When publicized by the media, climate litigation can educate the public about the science and possible impacts of climate change, illuminate issues about fairness and responsibility, and stimulate debate about how society should respond.  In addition, court decisions about expert testimony and the treatment of uncertainty can affect perceptions of the legitimacy, credibility, and salience of climate science, both inside and outside the courtroom.

Marilyn also has been involved with the planning committee for the Energy, Poverty Reduction, and Gender sessions for the World Renewable Energy Congress (WREC IX) conference in Florence, Italy in August and will give a paper there.