When four USC Price School of Public Policy graduate students signed up to participate in the school’s international lab in China in June, they had no idea it would also lead to a trip to France in September.
On Sept. 14, USC Price representatives from the China Lab presented their findings to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Port-Cities Programme working group in Paris.
Based on the 75-page report prepared by the 17 students who participated in the lab, the presentation explored the intersection of international trade, public policy and urban planning by comparing the impacts of global goods movement in the Los Angeles-Long Beach region with those in the Ningbo-Zhoushan region of China’s Zhejiang Province.
“It was a great opportunity, not only for our students to be recognized for their work but also to showcase USC Price’s international lab program,” said adjunct faculty member Michael Vanderbeek, who led the lab and currently serves as director of business development for Port Everglades in South Florida.
At the presentation, Vanderbeek gave a brief introduction before handing over the floor to master of public administration students Alice Liu and Maura Velasco and master of public policy student Matthew Bogdan. Jan Green Rebstock, a doctor of policy, planning and development candidate, also contributed to drafting the China Lab presentation, in addition to giving a separate OECD talk based on her dissertation research.
For the presentation, Liu, who works at the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, spoke about the economic impacts of the port in Ningbo-Zhoushan on regional and urban development.
“Often the port cities bear a lot of the negative aspects of development — pollution and noise — and they don’t necessarily get the benefits of increased jobs or other economic benefits of the port,” she said. “So we looked at some of the opportunities.”
Bogdan followed up with information about the land use and geographic impacts of the Ningbo-Zhoushan port development.
“There was one island they were trying to develop,” he said. “Not only was it going to be a luxury tourist destination, it was also going to be a port. And it’s been really hard — not just in LA but globally — to have the two coexist nicely. So this island they were developing was going to attempt to do that.”
Velasco, who works as a budget analyst for the city of Long Beach, closed the presentation with a discussion of Ningbo-Zhoshan’s environmental impacts, primarily on air and water quality.
“One of our major findings was that some of their approaches happen to be a lot more technologically advanced than some of the ones that we use here in the United States,” she said. “For example, what they did in China was they were able to create these underwater plug-in boxes, so the vessels could still have power, but they weren’t using diesel power during the time when they were loading.”
In a separate 25-minute presentation, Green Rebstock, an environmental project manager and sustainability liaison for the Port of Los Angeles, presented part of her dissertation research. She talked about sustainability within the context of the port organizations in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
“I found there to be, surprisingly, some well-developed environmental management regulations already on the books, at least for mainland China, but the challenge is translating that into local enforcement,” she said. “They’re readily using many advanced technologies as well to mitigate emissions. And there’s also some regional coordination going on across ports, which is really interesting.”
Students from the China Lab have followed up on their successful OECD presentation by signing up to speak at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, which will be held in Los Angeles in April.
“When we heard we could present it to OECD, we thought that was amazing,” Bogdan said. “I don’t think that any of us were expecting something like that to come out of this, and the entire process was just an incredible experience. We’re all really proud that we did a good job, and we’re continuing to be recognized for it.”
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