Brian Seo, a SPRI affiliated student, won the 2023 Doctoral Research Symposium Best Paper Award at the 5th annual Watts Doctoral Research Conference. His paper, "Adopting Environmental Policies: Does the Form of Government Matter?" focused on whether different forms of local government (focusing on mayor-council vs. council-manager) had an effect on the type of environmental policies that are adopted.
Previous studies on local governments' sustainability efforts have used the form of government to infer that mayor-council governments are more likely to adopt environmental policies for its symbolic values while council-manager governments are more likely to adopt environmental policies that help increase operational efficiency. Using SPRI survey data, Seo then categorized the environmental policies into two categories based on whether adoption of certain policies had a more symbolic or cost-focused benefit. The result was a null result, suggesting that perhaps mayor-council and council-manager governments are not as different as previous literature has characterized them to be.
The conference was hosted by the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions on the Downtown Phoenix campus on Friday, March 3rd. There were a total of 16 different presentations from students across Watts College, including the School of Public Affairs; School of Community Resources and Development; School of Criminology and Criminal Justice; and School of Social Work.