Annual Conference Minn-Econ

Due to low enrollment, the Minn-Econ 2023 has been cancelled.

Minn-Econ 2023: Environment Economics & Policy

Saturday, October 7   |   8:30 am-11:45 am   |   Virtual   |   Free Registration  |  $50 MN Teacher Stipend  |  For Gr. 9-12 Educators

Economics has a lot to offer when it comes to policy debates. Join us to learn about how to bring economic theory to life by showing how it relates to one of the biggest environmental issues of the day – climate change. This year’s conference will focus on how economics can help students feel empowered to tackle the challenges of climate change. National experts will provide cutting-edge research as well as lessons that integrate climate science and economics. 

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8:30 - 8:40 a.m.    Welcome

Presenter: Julie Bunn, MCEE Executive Director

8:40 - 9:20 a.m.    Climate Change Policy Opportunities 

Presenter:  J Drake Hamliton, Senior Director of Science Policy, Fresh Energy

The U.S. Congress and the Minnesota Legislature have passed into law historic, huge climate action and clean energy laws, the best in the world. President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act. Thus, we have the policy tools enacted for addressing climate change with funding that is at the scale of climate change. Furthermore, Minnesota in 2023 passed two nation-leading laws requiring 1) 100% carbon-free energy by 2040 and 2) a $3 billion investment in climate action and clean energy. These laws are a huge signal that Minnesota is serious about cutting carbon and growing clean energy jobs—we are a great market to do business in as Minnesota has laid the groundwork for economy-wide decarbonization and delivered the most impactful climate session in state history. Never has it been more necessary to act on climate change. Learn how your family, your school, and your community can take advantage of these biggest-ever investments in clean energy and climate action. 

9:20 - 10:00 a.m.    Economics of Climate Change

Presenter:  Jay Coggins, Distinguished University Teaching Professor, Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota 

It's cheap, but not easy. Meeting the climate challenge will require a massive shift in the way we produce and use energy. We have only a few decades to shift entirely away from fossil fuels. The transition presents a significant challenge. The politics is hard and so is the sheer scale of  investments in renewables and storage and electrified homes and industry and transport. Getting all of this done will be really hard, but I will explain why I grow ever more convinced that it will also be cheap. Discourse about solving climate tends to focus on the trillions of investment that will be needed to make this transition. But what about the savings? It turns out that our current energy system is not so cheap after all. Wind and solar power is cheaper than fossil electricity in most places, and storage solutions to keep the lights on at night continue to grow cheaper too.

We already have the technologies needed to meet the climate challenge. No energy miracles are required. The difficulty lies in the scale of solutions, and in the politics. If we're smart about these, energy in the electrified, renewable future will be cheaper than it is today.

10:00 - 10:10 a.m.    Break

10:10 - 10:50 a.m.    Saving the Environment with Economic Ideas 

Presenter:  Bill Bosshardt, Director, Center for Economic Education at Florida Atlantic University 

Saving the Environment with Economic Ideas is a set of lessons for high school that provide students with the opportunity to participate in simulations. These simulations demonstrate the potential results of economic-related actions and policies taken and made by the government, businesses, or individuals to conserve and protect many of the natural resources used in the production and consumption of goods and services. Students see in action concepts such as resource allocation, scarcity, value, property rights, negative externalities, and emissions taxes and are encouraged to have lively discussions about what they observe and apply it in various situations. Engaging students in hands-on simulations and application of real environmental concerns helps students learn and analyze how economics plays a significant role in developing ideas and solutions that are put into action to save the environment. 

10:50 - 11:10 a.m.    Climate Change and Storytelling 

Presenters:  Marek Oziewicz, Sidney and Marguerite Henry Professor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Director of the Center for Climate Literacy, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities & Nick Kleese, Lecturer, Department of Writing at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 

In this presentation, we share a vision of transforming education into a force that will accelerate a transition to an ecological civilization. This vision informs the work of the Center for Climate Literacy at the University of Minnesota, which seeks to build a global community of teachers dedicated to implementing universal climate literacy education in their classroom practice. We first introduce the holistic notion of climate literacy as a broad narrative competence—rather than a narrow science competence—that is available to all humans from a very early age. (We believe that climate literacy can be scaffolded and integrated across all subject areas, at all grade levels, in all schools everywhere.) We outline our approach and methods, highlighting stories as a technology that transforms minds and enables new, ecocentric ways of thinking. Lastly, we share a couple of practical examples of how social science/economics teachers can use stories to engage with the climate emergency through narrative unpacking of the following concepts: externalities, extractivism, slow violence, energy transition, and the notion of the Anthropocene itself. 

11:10 - 11:40 a.m.    Presenter Panel

Moderator: Julie Bunn, MCEE Executive Director

11:40 - 11:45 a.m.    Closing