GSPIA CONNECT Capstone Presentations

Watch the recording!

GSPIA's CONNECT Capstone Makes Regional Recommendations RE: Fire, Climate, COGs, & Recycling

Monday, November 30, 10:00am-12:00pm

Each fall semester, Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs has a CONNECT Capstone Class. CONNECT members decide on policy or programmatic areas of highest priority that they would like to know more about. Together, they decide how to best partner with students to dive into further research.

Per CONNECT's ongoing conversations this summer, four policy research projects were established for the capstone taught by Dr. George Dougherty and Lydia Morin. Read more and watch a short video clip that gives an overview about each project below.

Join us on Monday, November 30, 10:00am-12:00pm to see the full presentations and give students feedback to incorporate in their final reports and slide decks.


  • 9:45-10:00am: Zoom room opens
  • 10:00-10:05am: Welcome, GSPIA and GSPIA CONNECT Capstone Course Overview
  • 10:05-10:20am: "The state of and opportunities for PA Councils of Government"
    • Q&A 10:20-10:30am
  • 10:30-10:45am: "Exploring the future of fire service delivery"
    • Q&A 10:45-10:55am
  • 10:55-11:10am: "Launching a regional climate action planning process"
    • Q&A 11:10-11:20am
  • 11:20-11:35am: "Regional solutions for hard to recycle items"
    • Q&A 11:35-11:45am
  • 11:45am-12:00pm: Wrap up

This event is normally a wonderful opportunity for networking with soon-to-be GSPIA graduates and expert practitioners. We regret that this year's event must be virtual, but we still expect it to be a time of building relationships with those graduating during a pandemic, igniting conversations, and a space to collaborate on advancing recommendations.

The presentations will be recorded but the dialogue after each will be live only. Alumni and press are welcome. 

Students were requested to explore and evaluate the state of and opportunities for Pennsylvania Councils Of Governments, including identifying mechanisms to strengthen their ability to operate and serve their member local governments - especially as it relates to the municipal revenue crisis brought about by COVID-19.
Natalia Goodnow, Koffi Kengbo, Zheyuan (Alice) Yu
Presenting 10:05-10:20am
Q&A 10:20-10:30am

For the past two years, the future of volunteer fire service has been heavy on our members minds as volunteer numbers have dwindled and budgets are increasingly tighter. Members wonder if they are implementing the optimal fire service delivery model or if our county even has full coverage. This project focused specifically on hearing from fire service members themselves. It will provide recommendations for next steps and potential initiatives to continue facilitating conversations about the future of fire service among fire safety professionals.
Brett Stewart, Zoë Burch, Yingzi (Elena) Liu
Presenting 10:30-10:45am
Q&A 10:45-10:55am

Currently, seven CONNECT communities have Climate Action Plans either in progress or being updated. Over the past year working with the Pennsylvania DEP and ICLEI, CONNECT members saw necessity in working together to develop an approach for a Regional Climate Action Planning program. This capstone dug into the specifics of stakeholder engagement and the long-term sustainability of such programming to reduce greenhouse gases throughout our region.
Eric Raabe, Yixuan (Yvonne) Zang, Yaodeji Yang
Presenting 10:55-11:10am
Q&A 11:10-11:20am

CONNECT has put more research power behind regional recycling for over a year now. This capstone report gets more detailed about some potential regional solutions for hard to recycle items, including exploring past, current, and future technologies for waste-to-energy. On December 17th at CONNECT's Economic & Environmental Development Working Group meeting, we will be sharing the recycling reports in depth and holding a focus group on the recommendations.
Gabrielle Bryant, Wenyu Zhao, Hui Ding
Presenting 11:20-11:35am
Q&A 11:35-11:45am