The report pointed to opportunities for U.S. and Vietnamese coop-
Thirteen IU Bloomington students spent the spring 2017 semester
eration in economic development and highlighted risks if Vietnam
learning all they could about the production and consumption of en-
increases its reliance on fossil fuels. In addition to public health
ergy in Vietnam in an innovative new Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
problems associated with burning coal, Vietnam’s long and low-lying
course titled “Environmental and Energy Diplomacy.” The course was
coastline makes it one of the most vulnerable nations to climate
more than an academic exercise for the graduate and undergraduate
change and sea-level rise. In addition, students identified devel-
students attending the class.
opment opportunities in both the fossil-fuel and renewable energy
EAS Students Advise the Ambassador to
Vietnam on Energy Policy
sectors. Students helped develop and present a key recommen-
dation, involving incentives to help U.S. companies develop solar
energy for use in the important Vietnamese textile and garment
industries. Part of IU’s contribution to the U.S. State Department’s “Diplomacy
The course also required some flexibility, because transition in
Lab” program, the course enabled students to analyze energy-related
the U.S. government suggested changes in emphasis. Embassy
issues and produce a report on policy challenges and opportunities
employees had been working on the assumption the U.S. would
for the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. Students capped the semester by
be part of the Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, but President
briefing Ted Osius, the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, on their findings.
Donald Trump jettisoned the deal.
Diplomacy Lab is a new outreach program, developed by former Sec-
During the semester, students and instructors kept in touch with
retary of State John Kerry, in which the State Department can “course-
embassy staff through email and video conversations. When the
source” research and innovation related to global policy challenges.
report was done, Heather Rogers, deputy counselor for economic
EAS Professor Michael Hamburger learned about the newly developing
affairs at the Embassy, arranged for students to brief the ambassador
program when he spent the 2015-16 academic year working with the
on their findings. The briefing took place via video bridge from the
State Department as a Jefferson Science Fellow and helped initiate
Gill Conference Room in IU’s Multidisciplinary Science Building II.
the program on the IU-Bloomington campus. The course was one of
11 IUB courses developed as part of the new program.
Enegy issues played a prominent role at the 2017 Asia-Pacif-
ic Economic Council (APEC). Participants in the class got a real
Universities “bid” on topics posted by the department, which selects
sense that the U.S. Embassy is seriously interested in taking our
the best proposals. IU Bloomington was awarded the Vietnam energy
proposals and actually trying to turn them into policy. Either way,
policy course in the fall of 2016. Hamburger collaborated with John
the class offered IU students an extraordinary opportunity to take
Rupp, Indiana Geological and Water Survey senior research scientist,
their academic learning and turn it into practical, real-world policy
to teach the course with help from other IU faculty experts, including
initiatives. our own Professor Chanh Kieu, who originally hails from Vietnam.
Energy production and consumption are critical issues in Vietnam.
The country’s economy is growing rapidly, creating increased demand
for energy. Policymakers face decisions about whether to expand the
country’s fossil-fuel and hydroelectric resources or to import more
energy. Vietnam ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, creating an
incentive to reduce emissions and move away from relying on coal.
The country’s tense relations with China and other neighbors and its
partial transition from a state-controlled to a market economy create
The IU class, which included seven graduate students and six under-
graduates — about half of whom were EAS students — examined the
issues from economic, geopolitical, and public health and environ-
mental perspectives and produced a 25-page report of analysis and
Students in the EAS “Environmental and Energy Diplomacy” course brief
Ted Osius, the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, on energy policy.
hgr | 39