Environmental regulation in a polarized culture
Doctoral student Parrish Bergquist investigates how politics affect enviromental decision-making
Scholars have argued that economic factors are more important than political parties and ideology in terms of shaping what states are doing for the environment. But increasingly, every issue is really polarized across the parties — so are there places that are not as polarized for the environment now, and if so, why?
— Parrish Bergquist
With an affinity for environmental issues and a knack for analysis, MIT doctoral student Parrish Bergquist aims to clarify the ways in which changing political landscapes influence environmental policy outcomes.
Bergquist’s path to doctoral research in the departments of Political Science and Urban Studies and Planning began well before she joined MIT. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in American studies and English, the Birmingham, Alabama, native volunteered for two years with the U.S. Peace Corps in Honduras to study international development and policy. There, she gained a firsthand perspective on the impacts of global climate change.
“People in Honduras lived so much closer to environmental damage than we do in the U.S.,” Bergquist says. “Carbon emissions from developed countries were already starting to have an effect on [climate in that region]. ... It affects everybody.” During conversations with women and children, Bergquist learned that those who were tasked with fetching water had to walk even further with each trip to find clean water sources.