Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Distinguished Professor for Sustainable Development Jonathan Yoder

School of Economic Sciences

Endowment for Sustainable Development


“Sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs.” — Brundtland Commission, 1987. Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.

“The only reason for thinking that sustainability is a problem is that you think that some people are likely to be short-changed, namely in the future.  Then I think you are really obligated to ask, “Well, is anybody being short-changed right now?” — Robert Solow, Nobel Laureate; Sustainability: An Economist’s Perspective. 1991.


Student funding opportunities

The ESD offers competitive Summer Sustainable Development Fellowships for SES graduate students to support research with a sustainable development component.  Scroll down for details.

About the Endowment for sustainable Development

The SES Endowment for Sustainable Development (ESD) supports the Distinguished Professorship for Sustainable Development, and  provides funding for research and merit-based grants and awards to support and recognize outstanding research relating to global sustainability and sustainable development.

The purpose of the endowment fund is to support high quality teaching and scholarly work on the economics of sustainable development. Supported efforts are expected to contribute effectively to the strategic goals of the School of Economic Sciences. Within  this goal, the ESD program supports scholarship on sustainability broadly, encompassing any dimension of inquiry relating to the sustainability of human well-being and equity in a global context. 

The ESD program provides grant opportunities for graduate students to support research projects supporting the ESD mission, as well as awards for outstanding graduate and undergraduate research articles, dissertation chapters, and term papers.

ESD Funding and Projects

Current and Past Summer Sustainable Development Fellowship projects

Past Projects

Summer 2022


Sita Khanal


The impact of oil and gas flaring on crop yields: Does reduced flaring help in economic development and sustainability?  Agricultural productivity is crucial for economic development, where efforts are being made for sustainable development with the objective to provide sufficient food with minimal decline or increase in the natural resource base. Recently, concerns are arising if there are any other external factors besides regular environmental factors such as emissions, coming from recent commercial activities, have any impact on sustainable development. Flaring of oil and gas wells is one of the recent commercial activities in agricultural states, which might have negative impacts on crop yields. Emissions from flaring consist of several toxic chemical components that negatively impact the physiological functions of plants, thus reducing crop yield. This study contributes to the literature by accurately identifying the causal impact of total flaring activity and resulting emissions on crop yields using historical flaring and crop production data from the U.S. and other developing nations such as the Philippines, India, and Indonesia. The work for the U.S. has been completed employing the method of difference in differences leveraging the timing differences in flaring policy across the states. Preliminary results show that a 1 % increase in flaring causally decreases the corn and soybean yields by 0.015% and 0.00108%, respectively. Because the yield improvement from reduced flaring is significant, it supports climate change policies to further reduce air pollution, thus enhancing sustainable farming, ecosystem, and earth health. These results also support the notion that reduced air pollution from flaring aids economic and sustainable development goals by increasing farming efficiency and yields.

Imisi Aiyetan

Female leadership, Environmental Responsibility and Pollution levels: Do female top managers help to reduce firm pollution levels?   Corporations are increasingly claiming to be investing in reducing their corporate carbon footprint due to high demand by firm stakeholders for environmental responsibility. Recent research has found that managerial gender diversity can affect strategies and practices relating to environmental footprints. This study contributes to this literature by examining how female corporate leadership affects firms’ carbon emissions. Using a causal inference approach, I investigate the impact of female leadership on firms’ pollution levels and determine if corporate environmental responsibility explains the channel through which top manager gender affects firm pollution levels. I use World Bank Enterprise Survey data for firms from 41 countries across three world bank regions (i.e., East Asia and Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, and Europe and Central Asia). The results from the preliminary econometric analysis show that an increase in the likelihood of having a female top manager is correlated with a decrease in pollution, suggesting that the female corporate management affect environmental actions that lead to pollution reduction.


Summer 2021
Reetwika Basu

Sustainable use and allocation of water is a prime concern in many developing countries round the world. The Punjab region in India is experiencing a permanent water crisis caused from the extent of irrigation and inefficient management of water resources. With the intent of applications pertaining to sustainability, a general equilibrium (GE) model has been developed for agent-based modeling (ABM) for water use, allocation and transaction in watersheds. The model considers a set of farms/agents along a river basin. A set of appropriative, transferable water rights is distributed across the farms. They are to buy or sell water on an annual basis and use the water after transaction to grow crops. Assuming the price signals conveyed, acts as a mirror to the scarcity of water during transactions in the informal water market in Punjab, we intend to apply the GE model to simulate efficient and sustainable irrigation decisions.



GC Apar

Some controlled experiments have established that ozone has a negative impact on crop yield (e.g., Mills et al. 2007). Some regression-based multivariate studies using historical field-level data have also documented a yield-reducing effect of ozone (e.g., McGrath et al. 2015). However, the controlled lab studies are limited by external validity, and the field level regression studies suffer from endogeneity bias, measurement error, and omitted variable bias. The contribution of this study is to identify the causal impact of ozone on crop yields using wind direction as an instrument for the ozone and weather data from 1999 to 2013 for the U.S. and India. Data for the U.S. has already been collected and I am in the process of collecting Indian data. The IV method follows Deryugina et al. (2019), who use a similar wind direction instrument to identify the effects of pollution on mortality. Preliminary results from the U.S. show that a 1% increase in ground-level ozone decreases the yield of corn and soybean by 0.62% and 0.53%, respectively. These results suggest that emissions reductions in the U.S. have been effective in improving crop yields and highlight the incremental benefits of further reductions. By focusing on how pollution affects crop yields at different levels of pollution in the U.S. as well as in India, the paper also has implications for the benefits of pollution abatement in developing countries with much higher pollution levels than the U.S.


Imisi Aiyetan

Up to date, environmental justice remains an important part of the struggle towards achieving sustainable development. Although the guiding principles of sustainable development affect everyone, it lays special emphasis on the poor, racial and ethnic minorities. Over the past decades, several social scientists have documented how social and economic characteristics are linked to environmental inequities and injustice. They established that a larger population of people of color and low-income earners are likely to reside in disproportionate communities with high environmental risks. Some studies have also shown that minorities are exposed to environmental hazards in wealthy areas in the US. However, recognizing that socioeconomic dimensions of migration and environmental improvement are important components of sustainable development, none of these existing studies have uncovered the determinants of migration in areas with high environmental risks among ethnic and economic groups. Hence, this study fills the gap. To identify these determinants, this study aims to examine the determinants of socioeconomic dimensions of inflow and outflow migration, considering twelve most polluted counties in the US. This study will use panel data for the twelve counties over eight years. In assessing these panel data, I will develop conventional hedonic and discrete choice models. As effective policies affect environmental quality and create sustainable development, the findings from this study will dramatically enhance the understanding of policymakers on the possible policies that address social and economic problems, in addition to policies that improve environmental quality.


Kairon Garcia

The energy sector is known to be a major contributor of harmful pollutants that include carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOX). With the global push for sustainable development, and technological advancements in the field, many countries, including the Unites States, have observed a growing interest on “greener” and “sustainable” energy sources such as solar power. To date, existing renewable energy studies have measured the environmental gains from using wind power, and examined the impact of overlapping environmental policies on pollution in the United States. However, only little is published on the environmental benefits of solar energy generation, and their interaction with other existing environmental policies. In this paper, I will fill this knowledge gap and estimate the emissions avoided per MWh of solar power produced, geared towards sustainable power generation. Furthermore, I will calculate how emissions change if solar power generation is implemented with existing cap-and-trade programs. Specifically, I will focus on the independent Texas interconnection, located in one of the leading states in terms of the facilitation of renewable energy resources and green technologies. I will adopt the structural approach used by Novan (2017) to build the theoretical and empirical framework by assuming an equal reduction in fossil generation offset by renewable resources. Findings will show how the simultaneous interaction between cap-and-trade programs and unbounded increase in renewable energy capacity impact emissions.

Funding opportunities

ESD Summer Fellowship 2023

Proposals due Thursday March 2 2023


SES graduate students,

The SES Endowment for Sustainable Development will provide up to 3 one month, full-time fellowships for the most compelling proposals for summer research relating to sustainable economic development. The full-time fellowship provides double the standard monthly RA stipend.  

These fellowships are targeted toward students who are working on research that relates in some way to sustainability and/or development economics. To be consider for one of these fellowships, submit a short proposal to me via email by Thursday March 2, 2023 with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your project title
  • Narrative abstract of no more than 250 words
  • Your specific support request: You may request up to one month full-time summer support (equivalent to two times one RA monthly stipend) distributed over the pay periods May 15-August 15 2022 in a way that suits your schedule (paid with the usual WSU paycheck delay).
  • Send the proposal directly to me at by 5pm April 28.

Important instructions for narrative preparation:  The proposal abstract must explicitly make the case that the work meaningfully connects to or supports sustainability and/or economic development.  Your work need not be directly  or primarily focused on these topics, but your proposal should make the strongest case possible to show that your work relates to sustainable economic development in some way.  Feel free to contact me if you have concerns about whether your project is a good enough fit — or better yet, just send a proposal in and see if it sticks.  If your proposal narrative does not explicitly make the case that your proposed research relates to sustainability or sustainable development, you will not receive funding.

If I do select your proposal to receive funding, actual funding of your project for the summer will be conditional on approval by SES and your current adviser to avoid any other possible commitment conflicts.  These approvals can be acquired if and after your proposal is selected.

If you do receive the funding, you will be expected to provide a 250 word description of your project for posting on this program webpage.  This might be the same as the proposal narrative if appropriate.