Spring 2021 - 60689 - PA 388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Spring 2021 - 60689 - PA 388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy


This course is offered through the LBJ School of Public Affairs (LBJ School) and the Jackson School of Geosciences within The University of Texas at Austin (UT), with the Graduate Engineering School (COPPE) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, in cooperation with other institutions in Brazil.

Texas Instructor: David Eaton, Ph.D., Bess Harris Jones Centennial Professor of Natural Resource Policy Studies Email eaton@austin.utexas.edu; telephone 512-471-8972 (o); 512-626-0333 (cell)

Course Description

Students in this course will work in co-operation with faculty and staff of The University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin), the Graduate Engineering School of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRdJ), staff of the City of Maricá, Brazil and representatives of other Brazilian national, state and local government units, for-profit firms, and nongovernmental organizations to encourage the creation of employment and income producing activities in Maricá, a city close Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The class will produce a report and documentary video related to enhancing opportunities and economic development for Maricá’s residents and businesses. The course will consider entrepreneurship opportunities in a set of fields of interest to Maricá, including the following set of options: oil and gas technologies; renewable energy production; aviation/aerospace industries; and multi-model transport, logistics and port operations. The course also will address inequalities among Maricá’s population, training to enable employment, and development of a Maricá community foundation to address human needs.

This course combines in-class education (with possible on-site field experience if and when international travel is allowed) to provide an opportunity for students to develop awareness of challenges faced in regional development in a small Brazilian city. This course asks students to develop technical and social solutions that address cultural attributes of a community. This course will encourage cooperation among students and faculty with multidisciplinary academic backgrounds within UT-Austin, including Latin American Studies (with an emphasis on Portuguese language skills), urban planning, business, engineering, earth sciences, and public policy. Project deliverables will provide guidance to appropriate Maricá and other Brazilian government agencies. The final report and video are intended to contribute to development of Maricá and improve lives of its citizens.

During the Spring 2021 semester, the Austin class will meet from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm each Wednesday in Austin via Zoom, as classes will be offered only on line. Six initial class foci are listed below.


Six Initial Class Foci

Emergency Medical Services

Maricá wants to develop emergency medical services (EMS) to provide assistance to the ten oil platforms in the pre-salt ‘Lula’ field  of the Santos Basin that produce about 1 million barrels of oil per day. The student group will describe Maricá’s and Rio de Janeiro’s current medical system and its emergency medical system (Subtask #1) . The team will develop information on how Texas- and Louisiana-affiliated emergency medical service systems that aid oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico organize and deliver EMS services (Subtask #2). Based on US practices, the team will develop ideas that may be useful for Maricá (Subtask #3). The team may develop other case studies (Alaska, Nigeria, Scotland, etc.), if useful and appropriate (Subtask #4). The goal is to develop useful information that can provide Maricá with  information and contacts to achieve its goals. 


Technical Training        

Maricá has a substantial number of poor residents who could benefit from technical training that could allow them to work in skilled positions that pay competitive wages that improve the quality of their lives. New technical industries proposed for Maricá could provide such wages; one challenge for Maricá citizens is to obtain sufficient training to work effectively in those industries. This task seeks to discuss training needs of Maricá’s industries, the current availability of local training programs, and ideas from Texas about how to develop and sustain technical training for persons who have limited prior education. One topic is to list the proposed new Maricá industries for which training would be appropriate (Subtask #1). A second topic is to describe the current scope of non-university technical training programs in Maricá: their scope, curriculum, and prospects for future expansion (Subtask #2). Another topic is to report on technical training in Houston, with its focus on fossil fuel industries and diverse providers, including community colleges, non-profit and for-profit training organizations (Subtask #3). A case study of options in Austin for technical training could be useful, as a recent study evaluated the content and outcomes from such training (Subtask #4). A final task is to review the US training experience to identify any useful practices that could be appropriate for Maricá (Subtask #5).The goal is to develop useful information that can provide Maricá with  information and contacts to achieve its goals. 


Income Inequality and Equity

Maricá has sought to improve the quality of life of residents through programs that address poverty and income equality, including  an universal basic income program (UBI), a program that provides financial support for Maricá high school graduates who wish to attend an university (University Passport program), and free urban transportation within Maricá, among others. Maricá’s signature program has been its UBI Mumbuca program through its Sovereign Wealth Fund, its creation of a local currency provided to poor residents used for economic transactions only within Maricá, so that UBI support remain local. This subgroup will describe the demography and income distribution of Maricá (Task #1). Students will describe the origin, operation, and assessments to date of the Mumbuca program (Task #2). As a comparison, students will describe the origin, operation, and outcome assessments of a comparable US-based UBI program, as developed in Alaska (Subtask #3). A final subtask is to develop any insights from US experience regarding how an ex-post evaluation of the Mumbuca program could be developed (Subtask #4). The goal is to develop useful information that can provide Maricá with  information and contacts to achieve its goals. 


Ports, Port Services and Transportation

One promising Maricá investment is for a marine and supply boat base (e.g., the CODEMAR Project), as Maricá has a competitive advantage in its location relative to the ten off-shore oil and gas platforms in the Santos Basin. One task is to describe exactly what Maricá seeks to develop in is marine and supply boat base (Subtask #1). A second component would be to describe a comparative base of oil/gas operations in the US, with an excellent example in Port Fourchon, Louisiana (Subtask #2). A third component would be to understand the industrial and institutional ecology of port and marine service industries, through a listing and description of major companies that provide such services throughout the world (Subtask #3). A final challenge would be to develop ideas from the US case study that could be useful to Maricá (Subtask #4). The goal is to develop useful information that can provide Maricá with  information and contacts to achieve its goals. 


Maricá Innovation District: Sao Jose dos Campos Technology Park

Maricá has set aside land to create a so-called ‘innovation district,’ a venue for new companies to locate, a base for training programs, and other activities that will move forward its sustainable development efforts. The subgroup will describe the intent of Maricá’s innovation district (Substask #1). The subgroup will then consider Austin’s experience in facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship (Subtask #2). The subgroup may investigate one or two comparable ‘innovation districts’ developed in other nations (Subtask #3). Based on these cases and Maricá’s goals, the subgroup will identify lessons learned that could help Maricá make effective use of its proposed Innovation District (Subtask #4).  The goal is to develop useful information that can provide Maricá with  information and contacts to achieve its goals. 



All of Maricá’s investments will require financing. Maricá’s Sovereign Wealth Fund will not provide sufficient funds for all the infrastructure development. There are many potential sources of investment (Brazilian industry; international private industry; local or multi-national banks; global development banks [World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank], global sources of funds for support of private sector investment; bilateral military or civilian assistance; defense offsets, global or local foundations or philanthropies; non-profit organizations, etc.). One initial Maricá priority is to understand the potential for US aid through military defense offsets through Leonardo or CODEMAR, as such sources may be available (Subtask #1). Another Maricá priority is to understand how to convert some of its Sovereign Wealth Fund into a local institution that could invest in community priorities other than infrastructure. One option is the US is the community foundation’ concept, where a non-profit can engage local leadership to invest in key community priorities, drawing together income from a Sovereign Wealth endowment and any other appropriate sources. This group will report on Austin’s Community Foundation (Subtask #2). A third subtask is to collect the names and other information US-based and international philanthropies and foundations interested in Brazilian sustainable development, as collected through the Foundation Center in New York (Subtask #3). The subgroup will then seek to identify any financing practices that could be of use to Maricá (Subtask #4). The goal is to develop useful information on (a) potential foundation sources, (b) defense offset opportunities, and (c) a possible Maricá Community Endowment and provide Maricá with  information and contacts to achieve its goals. 



Class Schedule: 
W 5:30PM-8:30PM
Instruction Mode: