Monday, April 29, 2013

Focus Interview with UAP's Ralph Buehler Highlights Cycling Culture and Infrastructure

UAP Professor Ralph Buehler was a guest speaker today on Focus, an Illinois public radio program that "features a mix of newsmakers, authors and regular guests to talk about the ideas and issues that affect your life." (

This morning's program focused on "cycling, infrastructure and why some in the [Champaign, Illinois] area are working to empower a strong cycling and pedestrian community." Read more about Focus and listen to today's program at

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference News: “Governing Possibilities and the Possibilities of Governance”

Scholars from the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) and across the university community are convening today and tomorrow, Friday, April 26, in Blacksburg, Va., for the 2013 Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference. This year’s theme is, “Governing Possibilities and the Possibilities of Governance,” and it builds on the successful 2012 Ridenour conference, which focused on Distressed Cities.

For 2013, the interdisciplinary conference coordinating team created a program that explores all levels of governance during this two-day conference. Sessions are structured as discussions and conversations featuring SPIA faculty, graduate students and distinguished guest speakers in various semi-structured formats that allow both information and reflection.

In particular, as the 2013 long-ish title suggests, SPIA invite scholars to think about the social construction of both the form of governance and of what is governed by referring to Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of the “space of possibles” (as a noun). Among the questions that are being explored during the two-day program include:
What is the space of possibles and what is at stake in the field of governance?
We can ask about the social possibilities of governance: what kind of governance are the current socio-economic power relations bringing forth?
And we can ask about the act of governing social possibilities: how are the powers that be organizing what is socially imaginable and thus possible?

Sessions examine questions such as:
How do we understand current debates about governance (or indeed government) in crisis?
How do our definitions of public and private space reflect current forms of governance?
How does the idea of participation and shared governance fit in?
How does governance legitimation change in the face of environmental crisis?
What are the tensions between attempts of democratization in developing countries and a context of neo-liberal international governance?
Finally, what are different theoretical perspectives of the concept of governance and what are its disciplinary and transformative potential?

SPIA scholars strive to integrate scholarship and practice to continuously inform, question, and advance knowledge in the public sphere. The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference provides a forum to advance this core mission.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

UAP Students Host Ryerson University Students for Planning Research Discussion

VT UAP and Ryerson students discuss research efforts 

UAP Master's and PhD students in Alexandria welcomed students from Toronto's Ryerson University on Friday April 19th for presentations and conversations about planning research. Virginia Tech PhD students Allison Heck, Arica Young, and Andrea Hamre presented on their ongoing research efforts. Hamre coordinated the gathering of approximately 25 students and community members. 

Participating Virginia Tech students included Jamie Genevie, Terrah Glenn, Andrea Hamre, Allison Heck, Priscila Izar, Arica Young, and Nick Kushner. A wide range of topics were discussed, from cultural preservation and sustainable communities to commuter benefits and comparisons of Canadian and American planning approaches.

Monday, April 22, 2013

May 15 Pre-Conference Roundtable: What Next? The Future of Brownfields Research in Policy and Practice

For individuals heading to the 2013 EPA National Brownfields Conference, a pre-conference roundtable has been organized by Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, St. Louis University and Ryerson University. This roundtable will explore the latest developments in Brownfields research as well as discuss opportunities for future collaborations among researchers, practitioners and policymakers.

Register at

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SPIA Family Day at the EU Embassies' Open House

Saturday, May 11

Join us at the European Union (EU) Embassies’ Open House, the single biggest celebration of the EU in the world.  This annual event demonstrates the EU’s motto of “unity through diversity” by showcasing the range and richness of European society (  Students, alums, faculty staff, family members and friends are welcome.  This event is rain or shine.

You can also buy a SPIA t-shirt to wear that day to show your Hokie Pride and spread the word about our three programs in Alexandria.  See the registration link above to reserve yours!


Location: Washington, D.C.

Call for Hokie Volunteers for May 3 Alexandria Community Service Day

Friday, May 3

Organized by Volunteer Alexandria, Alexandria’s Community Service Day is a City-wide event on Friday, May 3 during which hundreds of people volunteer to support numerous different nonprofit and City agencies, as well as our schools.  As a VT SPIA Team Volunteer, you’ll join other Hokie students, faculty, staff, alums, friends and family members on our team.  You must be 21 or older to participate.

A $25 registration fee to cover tools, T-shirt and food is recommended.  (You can also give more if you’d like to support other Volunteer Alexandria programs throughout the entire year.)   We’ll be one of more than three dozens volunteer teams that day that’ll spread out across the City to help non-profit agencies with a variety of tasks.  You’ll help these short-handed sites prepare for Spring with fresh paint, new flowers and shrubs as well as layers of mulch.

Following the work day, volunteers come together at Alexandria’s Market Square (301 King Street) for a celebration party with refreshments and prizes.  The Service Day is part of Spring for Alexandria – a three-day event with the focus of giving and involves hundreds of volunteers.

Sign up for the VT SPIA Team at this link

Location: At a nonprofit location in Alexandria

April 19 UAP Special Event: An Evening With Graduate Planning Students from Toronto’s Ryerson University

Sponsored by the
Virginia Tech Urban Affairs & Planning Program

An Evening With
Graduate Planning Students from
Toronto’s Ryerson University

Friday, April 19th

5:00pm-6:00pm – Refreshments & Social Hour
6:00pm-7:00pm – Presentations, Q&A

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hanff to present at Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference, Bethesda, MD, on April 15th

Colleges and universities are incubators of innovation, tackling the biggest challenges of society through creative means. The 2013 Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference provides the setting to learn, share and explore how campuses are using their passion for innovation to develop technologies, infrastructure, programs and curricula that address the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.

MURP alumna and SPIA Research and Operations Manager Jessica Hanff will be presenting with Jason Hercules of the US Green Building Council on “Using LEED for Neighborhood Development to Create a Sustainable Campus.”  Read more about the presentation at this link:

Leveraging Statistics to Improve Data Quality

UAP Assistant Professor Ralph Hall and Assistant Research Professor of Statistics Eric Vance have released a new video that highlights their efforts to leverage technology and statistics to advance quality data collection efforts in Africa.  The initiative is part of an impact evaluation project that Hall and Vance are conducting on behalf of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

The 16-minute video was created at the request of UAP Professor Tom Sanchez and will be part of the new TechniCity MOOC (massive open online course) that Sanchez will be co-teaching in summer 2013 with Jennifer Evans-Cowley/Ohio State University.

The video contains many imagines and several clips from the fieldwork conducted during 2011, Hall noted, and it features several VT graduate students, who each played an important role in the research.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NCR Hokies Blood Drive, Friday April 19

Virginia Tech Alumni Association
National Capital Region
Blood Drive
Friday, April 19th, 2013
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Room 100 - Graduate Center7054 Haycock Road, Falls Church
To schedule your Life Saving Appointment please go to
and use Sponsor Code: 05312500
Or call 1-800-RED-CROSS

Questions regarding eligibility please call: 1-866-236-3276

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tues April 30: 11th Street Bridge Park Presentation

Courtesy of Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC:

"Join residents of Wards 6, 7 and 8 at a presentation by graduate students at Virginia Tech's Urban Planning Studio, who have spent the entire semester studying the proposed 11th Street Bridge Park, to deliver their final report.

Presentations will include:
 1) Recommendations to ensure that the Bridge Park is stitched deeply  into surrounding neighborhoods; 
 2) Assessment of nearby playgrounds, cultural amenities, and gardens;
 3) Case studies of similar transformed infrastructure projects across the   US; and
 4) Recommendations for continued community engagement.

Led by Elizabeth Morton, Ph.D., the studio represents one of many ways that Virginia Tech’s’s Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) program immerses graduate students in real world challenges. UAP is one of three programs that make up the School of Public and International Affairs; its National Capital Region campus is located in Old Town Alexandria.

The District government and local nonprofit partner, Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC, are transforming the old 11th Street river bridge into the city's first elevated park: a new venue for healthy recreation, environmental education and the arts.

Join the movement to transform, connect and engage communities on both sides of the Anacostia River."

Van Houweling Defends Dissertation on Gender, Water, and Development

Courtesy of Ralph Hall:

"On March 29, Emily Van Houweling successfully defended her dissertation entitled "Gender, Water, and Development: The multiple impacts and perspectives of a rural water project in Nampula, Mozambique."  Congratulations, Emily!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cities and Technology

UAP Professor Tom Sanchez and Jennifer Evans-Cowley from Ohio State University will be teaching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Cities and Technology beginning on Saturday May 4, and will run for four weeks. The course currently has over 13,000 students registered from around the world.  You can sign up for the course at: TechniCity.

The course focuses on how technology is being used in cities. The increasing availability of networks, sensors and mobile technologies allows for new approaches to address the challenges that our cities face. The way we understand cities is undergoing sweeping transformation, right along with the analytical tools we use to design our cities and the communication tools we use to engage people. We developed this course to help in fostering a community of people who care about the future of our cities and have an interest in how technology can play a role in their future.

Follow us on Twitter @EvansCowley and @tomwsanchez. We'll use Twitter to communicate thoughts about technology, cities, MOOCs, and other topics, in addition to using the course mechanisms (using hashtag #technicity) We also have a LinkedIn group if you would like to network with others interested in technology and cities.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tues Apr 9: UAP's Ralph Buehler to Link Planning, Increased Cycling at MNCPPC Speaker Series

Update: Ralph Buehler's Montgomery County presentation has been posted online; watch the video at

Courtesy of Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission:

"SILVER SPRING – Take a look around and it’s easy to see that cycling is booming. The roads of Washington, D.C. are crisscrossed with bike lanes, and the District-based Capital Bikeshare program bills itself as the largest in the nation.

speaker series 2013

To delve into how good planning equates to safe, accessible, enjoyable cycling, Virginia Tech professor Ralph Buehler will present at the Montgomery County Planning Department’s speaker series on Tuesday, April 9. His talk, Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from Europe and North America, will link transportation and land-use policies with bike use.

Co-editor of the recently published book City Cycling (MIT Press), Buehler will report on cycling trends and policies in North American, European, and Australian cities and tie those to how planners and local government officials can promote cycling in their communities.

In his book and classes, Buehler contends that cycling should not be limited to those who are highly trained, extremely fit, and daring enough to battle traffic on busy roads. His presentation will describe ways to make cycling feasible, convenient, and safe for commutes to work and school, shopping, and other daily transportation needs.

Specifically, Buehler’s presentation will offer information on:
  • cycling safety
  • bikeways and bike parking
  • integrating cycling with public transportation
  • promoting cycling for everyone
Buehler is assistant professor of Urban Affairs & Planning and a Faculty Fellow with the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech in Alexandria, VA. Originally from Germany, Buehler’s research focuses on comparing transportation and land-use policies in Western Europe and North America and how policies affect travel behavior. In 2008, Buehler’s dissertation comparing German travel behavior and transportation policy was selected as the best planning dissertation by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning.
Continuing education credits (1.5 hours) have been approved for planning professionals.

Ralph Buehler, Assistant Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech

Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from Europe and North America

7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9

Park and Planning Headquarters auditorium
8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring"

Monday, April 1, 2013

SPIA in the NCR Discusses Sustainability with Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

The IITK-VT research partnership, meeting at SPIA in late March in Alexandria, Va.
School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) faculty members met in late March in Northern Virginia with colleagues from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) to discuss the IITK-VT research partnership that is focused on sustainable infrastructure.  The partnership’s overarching goal is to encourage mutual understanding, facilitate educational reform, and engage civil society through knowledge sharing.

March meeting topics included discussing new courses to be created/transferred and also areas of research collaboration, presenting the draft knowledge platform for approval, and reviewing potential topics for a project workshop.  This is the second in-person meeting of the project group, having last met during October 2012 in Kanpur.

The initiative is funded by a grant from the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative as part of efforts to create an International Program for Sustainable Infrastructure Development.  The three-year IITK-VT partnership includes a series of meetings, workshops, research collaborations, and graduate student exchanges that are connected via a knowledge platform designed to support the virtual and digital exchange of information and data.

Virginia Tech representatives participating in the Alexandria and Arlington meetings included UAP Assistant Professor Ralph Hall, Ph.D.; UAP Assistant Professor Shalini Misra; Myers Lawson School of Construction Associate Professor Mike Garvin, Ph.D.; MI+SPIA Interim Research Director Joe Schilling, Ph.D.; MI+SPIA Operations Manager Jessica Hanff; and SPIA Director Anne Khademian, Ph.D.  Representatives from IITK attending the meeting included Professors Sudhir Misra, Onkar Dikshit, and Mukesh Sharma.

More information about the project team can be viewed on the project website at

Following the Northern Virginia meetings, IITK representatives met with Virginia Tech faculty members in Blacksburg to continue the project dialogue.  The next in-person meeting will occur again in Virginia in Fall 2013 and the schedule will include time for small group discussions among faculty members about specific research proposals that are in progress.

Learn more about the VT-IITK partnership by watching these videos from SPIA Director Anne Khademian, Ph.D. and Myers Lawson School of Construction Director Brian Kleiner, Ph.D.