Last week I gave a talk as part of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment Spring Seminar Series, which is organized by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the University Program in Environmental Policy. The goal of the series is to feature “leading experts discussing a variety of pressing environmentally focused topics,” and last fall Professor Erica Weinthal of the Nicholas School had asked if I had wanted to present some of my work on environmental certifications and ratings as part of the series. I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of the work I have been doing during my sabbatical, and so agreed to give a talk on “The Purveyors of Green: The Organizational Legitimacy of Eco-Labels and Sustainability Ratings.”
It actually turned out to be perfect timing to do this presentation, because I had just received an invitation to revise and re-submit an article on precisely this topic. I am also in the process of working on Chapter 2 of my book manuscript, which is also focused on the organizational legitimacy and credibility of information-based governance strategies. I was particularly interested in getting feedback on a new conceptual framework I have been working on that uses principal-agent and delegation theory to connect the concepts of legitimacy, credibility, and accountability.
A good mix of students and faculty attended the talk, including some from outside the Nicholas School, which was nice to see. I got about halfway through the talk before questions from the audience started coming in, which was great as it allowed for more interaction and back-and-forth about my research. Audience members were interested in discussing not only my theoretical model, but also learning more about my research methods and empirical results, and it was nice to have the opportunity to talk about them in more depth. Definitely a helpful discussion, and I plan to incorporate many of the comments into my next drafts.
Earlier this month, I made a quick trip up to Chicago to present a paper at the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Conference. I was on a panel titled “Understaniding Opinions on Contemporary Issues,” and presented a revised version of the carbon tax paper that Alex Theodoridis and I have been working on. We had been able to incorporate the feedback we had received from colleagues at Duke into the new version, which was entitled “Respond and Deliver? Examining the Risks and Rewards of Responsive Accommodation in the Politics of Climate Change.” In particular, we had changed how we presented the data, and were looking forward to hearing the impressions of other political scientists.
Turnout was unfortunately pretty low, perhaps because of the applied focus of the panel and its lack of a clear connection to the sub-fields and sections of MPSA. Nevertheless, the discussant who had read our paper, Donald P. Haider-Markel from the University of Kansas, had some very helpful comments on the paper and was generally very positive about both our conceptual framework and methodological approach. Several audience members also had some interesting insights about how to interpret our results. Our next steps are to make our final revisions and submit the paper, hopefully later this spring!
Last month, I had the opportunity to present a paper at Duke University’s Behavior and Institutions (B&I) Seminar Series. The series is hosted by the Political Science Department at Duke, and held in their beautiful new space in Gross Hall (right). I presented the paper on carbon taxes that I am working on with Alex Theodoridis and had presented in DC at the Dupont Summit. We had made some significant revisions to it since then, and were looking forward to getting comments from a more academic audience.
Turnout at the seminar was great, and included a mix of graduate students, post-docs, and faculty members. I had invited a few faculty members from outside political science and around campus who I thought might be interested in our work, and was glad to see that several colleagues from the Energy Initiative, Nicholas School, Law School, and Business School were able to attend. I received some very insightful comments about the paper that will help guide our next round of revisions. They also pointed to some interesting directions for future research, which we look forward to following up on as well.