Category Archives: Human Rights

The Social Cost of Water Pollution

The most recent issue of Land Economics, a special issue entitled “Integrated Assessment Models and the Social Cost of Water Pollution,” is now available. The papers in this issue stem from a 2019 workshop organized by David Keiser, Catherine L. Kling, and Daniel J. Phaneuf. Read an excerpt from the introduction to the issue, written by the organizers.

The eight papers in this issue were presented at a workshop titled Integrated Assessment Models and the Social Cost of Water Pollution. The event took place on April 3–5, 2019, at Cornell University. This was the second annual workshop, part of an ongoing effort to understand how changes in water quality affect society, with the ultimate goal of providing estimates of the “social costs” of water pollution that are useful for policy analysis across broad spatial scales. This requires moving beyond economic case studies, emphasizing instead multidisciplinary research operating at large spatial scales and involving economists, ecologists, hydrologists, and related disciplines. It also requires coordination with state and federal agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders to provide tools that have both scientific rigor and practical usefulness. The workshop brought together academic economists, ecologists, hydrologists, and agricultural engineers; agency scientists and policy experts; individuals from private sector institutes; and students to hear talks, participate in discussions, and build foundations for future collaborations.

The reference to integrated assessment models (IAMs) in the workshop title serves to emphasize the scale of ambition for this research community. An IAM is a collection of modules that individually describe the components of a complex system and work together to understand how the overall system works. Disciplinary specialists contribute their own expertise to build the IAM components and also cooperate with other researchers to assure that the components are compatible. Estimating the social costs of water pollution involves linking the sources of water pollution with their fate and transport in waterways, their impact on downstream ecosystem services, and changes in economic value or costs among affected populations. This requires the expertise of hydrologists, ecologists, and economists, respectively.

The specific papers are examples of progress to date. They include a mix of IAMs focused on predicting the economic benefits from improved water quality, IAMs looking at the costs of achieving pollution reduction objects, and studies that explore specific components needed for integrated assessment. The applications span locations and spatial scales, such as iconic water bodies and their surroundings (Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes), a state-level analysis focused on Michigan, a river basin scale application to the Republican River in Kansas/Nebraska, individual watersheds in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, and a nationwide application. Collectively the studies illustrate the range of research tasks, challenges, and products that define the agenda of research on the social costs of water pollution.

To learn more, browse the table of contents and read the open access article “Including Additional Pollutants into an Integrated Assessment Model for Estimating Nonmarket Benefits from Water Quality” by Robert Griffin, Adrian Vogl, Stacie Wolny, Stefanie Covino, Eivy Monroy, Heidi Ricci, Richard Sharp, Courtney Schmidt, and Emi Uchida.

Biography and Economics in African History

The most recent issue of African Economic History, a special issue entitled “Biography and Economics,” is now available. The lead editor for this issue, Paul Lovejoy, explains his choice of theme:

The inspiration for this special issue on Biography and Economics was the realization that economic history often does not focus on individuals and what their personal testimonies can tell us about economics and economic relationships. The issue brings together five articles that address this theme in different ways; the first through the lens of Philip Quaque on the Gold Coast in the eighteenth century; the second the case of the Ologoudou family on the coast of the Bight of Benin; third through biographical perspectives on enslavement in the upper Guinea coast; fourth, through the memories of indentured women in Natal; and lastly through the autobiographical details found in the wills of freed Africans in Brazil.

This was the final issue for Lovejoy, who is now retired after more than 30 years of editing African Economic History. Browse the table of contents on Project MUSE.

UW Press book inspires national framework for teaching about slavery

A framework for teaching middle school and high school students about slavery, developed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and launched Feb. 1, was inspired by and based on a book published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2016.

new report from the SPLC found a broad failure of textbooks, state standards and pedagogy to adequately address the role slavery played in the development of the United States — or how its legacies still influence us today.

Photo: Cover of "Teaching American Slavery" book

The framework, called Teaching Hard History: American Slavery, was developed by the SPLC and its Teaching Tolerance project based on UW Press’s Understanding and Teaching American Slaveryedited by Bethany Jay and Cynthia Lynn Lyerly. The book is aimed primarily at history teachers at the college and advanced secondary levels, but it lays out 10 key concepts essential to teaching the topic at any level. The 10 concepts became the basis for the entire Teaching Hard History curriculum.

UW Press published the book as part of its Harvey Goldberg Series for Understanding and Teaching History, which aims to provide a deeper understanding of complex areas of history and tools to teach about them creatively and effectively. The series is named for Harvey Goldberg, a professor renowned for his history teaching at Oberlin College, Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin from the 1960s to the 1980s. Goldberg is remembered for his commitment to helping students think critically about the past with the goal of creating a better future.

Other books published in the series to date focus on the Vietnam War; U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History; the Cold War; and the Age of Revolutions. Future topics will include volumes on teaching about the Holocaust, the civil rights movement, the modern Middle East, and Native American history.

UW Press is administratively located within UW–Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.