Project Description: 

2-3 positions, each for a minimum of 2 units (6 hours per week); additional units possible

Deep decarbonization in line with the Paris Agreement demands significant adoption of clean infrastructure over the next few decades, especially in growing cities in the Global South. How to achieve such adoption, however, is not yet well understood. Cities with the greatest potential to avoid future carbon emissions often display the least capacity to realize this opportunity. Given this problem structure, this project asks: how, why and under what political economic conditions do emerging cities adopt clean infrastructure? To address this question empirically, it draws on evidence from 171 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems, an infrastructure that promises to lower future carbon emissions from urban transport in high-growth contexts. Methodologically it combines semi-structured interviews with survival model analysis. Ultimately, this project hopes to advance our understanding the urban politics of clean infrastructure in the Global South, and inform more effective public policy interventions to avoid carbon lock-in.

Undergraduate's Role: 

The project, hosted by UC Berkeley’s Energy & Environment Policy Lab, is looking for support from 2-3 undergraduates for the 2020 Spring semester, for a minimum of 6 hours per week (2 units) per position. Additional units are possible. 

The overarching objective is to build a novel dataset for the survival model analysis. This exercise will mainly include reviewing World Bank datasets, UN reports, and official government websites to collect panel information on cities in Latin America for the time period 1990-2018. Examples of data of particular interest include mayoral political turn-over, the partisan alignment of mayors and presidents, the number and frequency of car-free days, and membership in transnational city networks. Additional tasks might also include case-study research on the institutions, politics and financing of BRT adoption; literature reviews; interview transcription; and general research assistance. 

Applicants, if successful, are expected to attend bi-weekly team meetings throughout the semester. 

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 

Required qualifications:

  • enrollment in the College of Natural Resources;
  • at least one completed semester; 
  • a minimum 2.0 overall GPA to qualify for enrollment in independent study research units.

Desirable qualifications: 

  • an overall GPA of 3.3 or better; 
  • a major or minor in a related field of study with a social science focus (e.g. Society & Environment, Environmental Economics & Policy, and Energy & Resources Group); 
  • proficiency working with Google Drive (including Google Docs and Sheets); 
  • strong writing and interpersonal communication skills; 
  • an ability to work independently; 
  • attention to detail. 

Additional beneficial qualifications:

  • prior internship experience; 
  • Spanish language skills.

In line with SPUR’s mission, prior research experience is not required. 

Questions about the project and application process can be addressed to Nicholas Goedeking, the responsible research assistant, at

On Campus
6-9 hours