Conferences and Presentations

2019 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference

Finding Common Ground in a Divided Political Culture

From the 2019 PIELC brochure:

Political polarization is at one of its highest levels in U.S. history, alarming many people about our country’s future. Examining this concern by asking 1200 registered voters from Oregon, Washington, California, and Colorado twenty- five policy-oriented topics widely considered divisive, this research uncovers more common ground than generally perceived. Sorting American voters into nuanced archetypes, beyond left/right or political party, affirms the complexity of American identity, yet reveals some surprising opportunity for policy progress– if carefully applied. Core conservatives and strong liberals, representing just thirty-four of the voting public, express ideological polarity while the other voting sixty-six, representing six of eight political subcultures, is where policy success is likely to be realized. Through statistical analysis of voter public opinion, Tom Bowerman and Robin Quirke will discuss opportunities to bridge the ideological divide, specifically, how to attain key policy objectives by examining American culture through a different lens.

2018 City Club of Eugene

June 1: STAR Voting (air date June 4)

Robin Quirke of PolicyInteractive (PI) was invited to share with the City Club of Eugene on June 1, 2018 PI’s survey results from a study on alternative voting systems. In 2015 and 2016, using electronic mock 2016 presidential election ballots, PI invited online survey respondents to vote for their preferred candidates using the standard U.S. voting system of plurality, along with three championed alternatives: approval voting, score voting, and ranked-choice voting. Quirke focused on the following three points, based on study results:

1. Do winners vary when an alternative voting system is used? (Results and methodology)

2. Which voting systems do voters prefer? (Results and methodology)

3. How might we use research to help advise voting system reform decisions?

June 8: Turtle Award (air date June 11)

Tom Bowerman of PolicyInteractive was the recipient, along with Fay and Eric de Buhr of Community Supported Shelters, of the annual Turtle Award.

The criteria for nomination includes:

  • Fostering creative problem solving in Eugene’s public affairs.
  • Stimulating constructive action.
  • Forging cooperative relationships.
  • Honoring diverse perspectives.
  • Sticking one’s neck out for the good of the community.
  • Being under-appreciated by the public.

Robin Quirke of PolicyInteractive introduced Tom Bowerman.

2018 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference

This year PolicyInteractive split up: Tom Bowerman, with Reverend Dan Bryant and Andrew Helen, discussed current issues surrounding tiny houses in “Tiny Houses: Promise and Problems,” and Robin Quirke teamed up with Hugo Séguin, Christopher P. Borick and Courtney Johnson to question the role morality and religiosity play in mitigating climate change in “Would Jesus Fly?” From the 2018 PIELC brochure:

1. Tiny Houses: Promise and Problems 

The legal barriers to building quality small dwellings and the moral or ethical consequences. Tiny houses have skyrocketed in popularity because they can house homeless folks at much lower cost than conventional social service provided multi-family buildings, lower resource consumption and environmental costs of conventionally sized houses, and give people who wish to tread lightly an environmentally friendlier housing alternative. But tiny houses have powerful enemies in unexpected places, causing builders to choose: don’t build them, or build illegally.

Panelists: Tom Bowerman, Policy Interactive Research; Reverend Dan Bryant, First Christian Church, Eugene; Andrew Heben, Project Directer, Square One Villages

2. Would Jesus Fly? 

From Christian conservatives who support the U.S. waging war on foreign soil to liberals who espouse environmental values while letting their incomes dictate their carbon footprints, humans often find themselves immersed in contractions. These researchers explore the role that ethics plays in the environmental choices we humans make in our daily lives, from income and spending to voting and policymaking. The overarching question being: Is it people’s moral duty to consume only their fair share of global resources?

Panelists: Hugo Séguin, Fellow, Université de Montréal; Christopher P. Borick, Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion; Robin L. Quirke, Associate Researcher at PolicyInteractive; Courtney Johnson, Staff Attorney at Crag Law Center and member of the Oregon State Bar’s Sustainability Future Section.

2017 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference

Tom Bowerman, Robin Quirke, and Sheldon Zakreski presented at the University of Oregon. Click on the “PIELC 2017 PowerPoint pdf” link below to access the PowerPoint slides. From the 2017 PIELC brochure:

Earth’s three hottest years in history have occurred in the past three years, which is consistent with scientific predictions and long term trends. Recent political events suggest at least four years of federal inaction and problematic state-level climate policy, leaving many wondering where to put their energy. It could be more crucial than ever for people to seize the opportunity to act in spheres they directly control or influence. What’s actionable? Panelists break it down into three parts (1) Key Drivers: Robin Quirke of PolicyInteractive Research reports on the predictors of human behavior tied to climate stability, based on a series of ongoing research projects, (2) Taking Charge: Tom Bowerman, Project Director of PolicyInteractive Research discusses domains of personal action as the foundation of social change and demonstration through example that net zero carbon emission is neither impossible nor unpleasant, and (3) Buying Indulgences? Sheldon Zakreski, Director of Asset Management at The Climate Trust describes carbon offsets as a tool for carbon neutrality and dispels common myths and falsehoods about how they work.

2016 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference

Miles Gordon, Robin Quirke, and Marcus Mayorga presented at the 2016 PIELC at the University of Oregon. Click on the “PIELC 2016 PowerPoint pdf” link below to access the PowerPoint slides from PolicyInteractive’s Robin Quirke presentation. From the 2016 PIELC brochure:

It is the rare environmentalist whose environmental behaviors and values align. What gets in the way? Although environmentalists who walk the talk do exist, these panelists discuss pitfalls that often steer people with strong environ- mental values into excessive consumption, ethnocentrism, and inspire weak attempts at getting GHG-limiting policies passed. These concepts will be illustrated via the Makah Native American tribe’s struggle for whaling rights, and socio-psychological research that reveals basic cognitive properties like perception and emotion may be misguiding our intentions to make the world a greener place.

2015 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference

Tom Bowerman, Joanne Gross, and Robin Quirke presented at the 2015 PIELC at the University of Oregon. Click on the “PIELC 2015 PowerPoint pdf” link below to access the PowerPoint slides. From the 2015 PIELC brochure:

Research reveals that pro-environmental values are not a significant predictor of pro-environmental behavior. This could be one of our greatest barriers to sustainability. What role does hypocrisy play on the pathway to catastrophic ecosystem breakdown? What behaviors count most in a society defined by consumption? These panelist-practitioners discuss ongoing social scientific research and personal experiences in the research & policy arena.

2014 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference

Tom Bowerman and William McConochie presented at the 2014 PIELC at the University of Oregon. The PIELC is the oldest and largest public interest law conference in the World.

2014 City Club