Zhao’s Outreach in China on Climate Change at University of Jinan Builds Bridges

Posted: Thursday, July 20th 2017 at 12:21 PM

To help faculty grow professionally through instruction and research in other countries, NAU sponsors the program, Short-term Lecturing Opportunities at Partner Universities. Xiaobing Zhao, associate professor of economics, participated in this program in June 2017, visiting the University of Jinan in China. She had participated in 2013, lecturing at Shandong University-Weihai, China. These engagements also help build bridges with our Chinese cohorts.

Two schools at the University of Jinan hosted her three lectures and one seminar on climate change.  

Her first two lectures, titled The Science, Economics, and Policy of Climate Change, focused on Environment and Resources, and were held in the School of Resources and Environment.

In the first lecture, she explained to students that scientific evidence supports the assertion that enhanced greenhouse gases from human activities will affect climate. The uncertainty is when this will happen and the extent of the effect.

Zhao said, “During the lecture, students (undergraduate) added their clarifications to ‘thermohaline circulation.’ They discussed the limitations of getting temperatures hundreds of thousands years back by drilling holes into polar ice and analyzing air bubbles for isotopes."

In the second lecture, Zhao introduced students to the economics and policies that she presents to her students in the U.S. Tax and cap-and-trade are two mitigation policies generally preferred as they provide incentives and rewards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She reviewed the stance held by Dr. Gregory Mankiw from Harvard University that tax could be better and easier to negotiate internationally if China could be included, not exempted, as in the Kyoto Protocol.

Dr. Peng Song, chair of Jinan’s geography department, commented, “Zhao’s lectures are interactive by engaging students.”

Zhao’s seminar was based on her new research paper coauthored with our Dr. Mason Gerety (NAU-FCB) and Dr. Nicolai V. Kuminoff (ASU) titled “Revisiting the Temperature-Growth Relationship using Subnational Data."

She interacted with faculty and graduate students, discussing how annual temperatures and productivity can vary greatly across space within countries. Zhao, et al. investigated the importance of the within-country relationship using global grid cell-level data and found new evidence on the heterogeneous distributional implications of climate change, which may help inform policy makers.

Zhao said, “I received the most questions and comments ever; it will help me explore collaboration possibilities in data collection and regression analysis with Chinese universities.” 

At the School of International Education and Exchange, Zhao presented her third lecture, Sustainable Development: To Reconcile Trade, Economic Growth, and the Environment.

The twenty-three students were from Africa and Asia. “They were very responsive and friendly,” Zhao said, “They made my visit enjoyable and unforgettable.”

After discussing the Environmental Kuznets Curve on the economic growth (whether trade-led or not) and the environment, Zhao explained to students that trade and economic growth gives countries the means to clean the air, but it may not work well for reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to the free rider problem. Zhao talked about the potential global impact of the U.S.’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, and cited the work of Robert N. Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, on greater international cooperation on environmental and trade issues for carbon emission reductions. 

At both schools, Zhao also served as ambassador for NAU’s undergraduate dual degree programs with Chinese partner universities, answering questions raised by faculty about coming to NAU as visiting scholars.  

Zhao said, “Teaching in China helps me prepare better lectures for the diverse range of students I have at NAU. I am also very excited to infuse insights and new ideas gained from the seminar into my future research.”  

Zhao acknowledged the members of the NAU team that helped make her experience possible. Daniel Palm, director of NAU’s Center for International Education (CIE), reviewed and approved Zhao’s application. Bruce Wang, director of China Initiatives for NAU, worked closely with Dr. Liyuan Yang, associate dean at the School of Resources and Environment, University of Jinan to arrange Zhao’s lectureship.

Wang’s commented to Zhao prior to coming, “Your CV has impressed two schools at the University of Jinan within 24 hours; they’re excited to welcome your arrival.” Upon the conclusion of Zhao’s visit, Wang said, “Thanks for helping strengthen our partnership with the university!”

Categories: xiaobing zhao university of jinan faculty summer 2017 2017 short-term lecturing opportunities at partner universities program the science, economics, and policy of climate change