University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

Climate science, energy transitions, health care and the Vermont Dismas House

Vermont Research Newsletter #4

With climate change talks underway in Paris -- how communities will adapt and survive in the face of a changing climate is in the news. Using a participatory action research process (PAR), a team of researchers in the Plant & Soil Science Department at UVM led by Ph.D student Rachel Schattman and faculty member Ernesto Mendez examined resiliency and Vermont agricultural practices to help farmers adapt to a changing climate. The study was recently published in an edited volume titled Agroecology, Ecosystems, and Sustainability.

Energy & the Environment

One public policy idea to reduce GHG emissions is to implement a carbon pollution tax. UVM professor Jennie Stephens is investigating this concept as part of her work on the Vermont Energy Transition. See video interview here. In Vermont, the idea of a carbon pollution tax is receiving increased attention. D.C. based consulting firm Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) produced a report on the fiscal implications for Vermont of such a tax, finding a net economic gain. Interview with Ecological Economist Jon Erickson who has studied this issue here.


Community strategies for forestland conservation and land use planning is the subject of a recent report by the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative. Led by VNRC scientist Jamey Fidel, findings suggest that a majority of subdivision activity (typically projects resulting in about 2-4 lots) are not being reviewed by Act 250, leading to increased fragmentation of wildlife habitat. This item courtesy of Eco News Vermont – a collection of Vermont ecological news & science. 

Considering the importance of the Lake Champlain Basin as an ecological and socioeconomic resource to the northeast U.S. and southern Quebec, a team of researchers from UVM, Columbia University's Earth Institute and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies have been examining the impacts of climate change on the area. By analyzing observed trends in precipitation and temperature across the basin and general circulation models, the researchers seek to provide a clearer idea of local climate change impacts. Their work was recently published in the Journal of Applied Meterology and Climatology.


The story of the founding of the Vermont Dismas House – a residential community where college students live with former inmates transitioning to life in society -- is published in a recent issue of Vermont Psychology.  “Who leads for Vermont and how are they improving the quality of our lives and the psychological health of our communities?” – the journal asks -- examining the role of Rutland’s Rita McCaffrey in the founding of the Dismas House. This item courtesy of Vermont Psychology --  a multimedia e-journal that looks at Vermont through the eyes of psychology students, produced by Community College of Vermont faculty member Robert Mandatta.

Vermont’s effort to move towards a single-payer health care system in 2011 is the subject of a recent article published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. "The Little State That Couldn't Could? The Politics of "Single-Payer" Health Coverage in Vermont," by researchers from Rockefeller College and the Results for Development Institute is based on interviews with 120 stakeholders in Vermont in 2010-2011. The article reviews the state’s movement towards a single-payer health care law and the climate for increasing health care coverage at the time.

Student Research

The history of conflict within the United States during the Revolutionary War is a complex one, which graduate student Angela Grove examines through the lens of Vermonter Thomas Johnson. In her thesis, "A brief history of Thomas Johnson: Vermonter, Revolutionary War patriot, and double agent," Grove discusses Johnson’s multiple identities in social class, state, and national levels in the context of the shifting identities of colonial and revolutionary Vermont.

Vermont Books

In Dateline Vermont journalist Chris Graff lists the Top 20 Stories of the 20th Century in Vermont (Thistle Hill Publications, 2006; 215-229). The top five are; development of the interstates, the 1965 House reapportionment, the 1927 flood, Phil Hoff's 1962 election and the passage of Act 250 in 1970. Bernie Sanders’ election as Mayor of Burlington makes it as #18.

On the continuing subject of Bernie Sanders, we recently collected nine books written by or about Sanders ranging from the academic to the personal. One of those books, a satire, Absolutely Absurd -- published 13 years ago -- predicts Sanders in a presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton. Tarnished by scandal, Clinton drops out and Bernie becomes Vice-President. 

The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that examines and adds to understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment.

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