University of Vermont

Center for Research on Vermont

The "Real Democracy" of Town Meeting, criminal justice, the decline of driving, and regional hop production

“There are few things that matter in the world that can’t be studied in Vermont,” argues scholar Frank Bryan. With town meeting upon us it is worth taking a moment to revisit how Bryan studied the “truths of the universe” through his seminal work:  Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How it Works. See our interview with Bryan on Vermont town meetings here.

HUMANITIES

Over the years of studying Vermont’s efforts to involve local communities and citizens in criminal justice, Kathy Fox believes that the Vermont ethic of “participatory democracy, civic engagement, and communities taking care of their own” has enabled Vermont to be a world leader in its approaches to community justice. Dr. Fox, a UVM sociologist, recently won the Center’s Frank Bryan Summer research award. See her recent paper on criminal justice and behavior here.

What do Vermonters think about the coming election, guns, renewable energy, marijuana, and school consolidation? A new poll by VPR and The Castleton Polling Institute asked 895 Vermonters their opinions. Results indicate that most Vermonters want gun control, to legalize weed, and support the siting of renewable energy.

ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY

The results of a project-based learning program which uses satellites, weather, and climate activities to engage K-12 students in climate and geospacial sciences is the subject of a UVM-based study. The program is led by climatologist Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, who will be co-hosting the 14th Annual Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop on March 22-24 in Burlington.

The Vermont Transportation Board recently released The Decline of Driving: Navigating Vermont without a Car. The report identifies an 8.4 percent drop in Vermonters’ vehicles miles travelled (VMT) per capita between 2007 and 2013 -- a sharper decline than across the U.S. Although Vermonters still drive 20 percent more than the average American, the report documents public desires to drive less and walk, bike, and ride the bus more often.

In the search to identify the beginning of the “Anthropocene”--a geologic era said to be caused by human impact on the planet--a new study suggests the introduction of agriculture is the key to this environmental shift. A team of scientists supported by the National Science Foundation, including UVM biologist Nicholas Gotelli, analyzed fossil records of plants and animals and found that the natural patterns which remained the same for 300 million years were disrupted 6,000 years ago: when humans started farming.

SCIENCE

Prescription use among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in northern New England is the subject of a study released this month by researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. The study used data from Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire to measure the intensity and regional variation of prescription use. Results indicate broad regional variation and diverse provider response, suggesting a need for more research on therapy for children with ASDs.

VERMONT BOOKS

M. Dickey Drysdale’s new book Vermont Moments: A celebration of place people and everyday miracles, is the product of the author’s 45 years as editor and publisher of The Herald of Randolph, a local newspaper in Randolph, VT. A collection of 50 pieces written by Drysdale over the years, the book is filled with stories favored by the author and his readers.     

STUDENT RESEARCH

With the rise in demand for locally sourced hops from Northeastern microbreweries, UVM graduate Lily Calderwood focused her dissertation on tools for integrated pest management in regional hop production. Calderwood’s research experiments with the use of cover crops to mitigate pests and yield higher hop production, and identifies specific pests to watch out for in different ranges of growing conditions.

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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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