Sixty-five Graduate Students Come to Berkeley for 2023 Energy and Environmental Summer Graduate Program

October 5, 2023

For 12 years the Energy Institute has been offering a unique annual training opportunity for doctoral students from around the country who are exploring a research agenda in energy and environmental economics (EEE). The program, better known as “Grad Camp,” seeks to attract a group of young scholars from a variety of backgrounds to the EEE field. It offers an amazing opportunity for intense training in EEE, especially for those graduate students who come from universities with perhaps only one faculty working in EEE and few or no courses offered in this area.

Grad Camp is run by the brilliant and entertaining Professor Max Auffhammer, a research affiliate of the Energy Institute. Each year Max invites nine inspiring faculty with cutting edge expertise in energy and environmental economics to teach a three-hour session on an area of their research agenda that they are most excited about. The lectures include examples of research questions and how the faculty approached answering them, personal stories on what motivated them to choose EEE, and a discussion of some of the most interesting current EEE questions.

This August the Energy Institute welcomed 65 graduate students from 48 different universities to Berkeley for a week filled with 27 hours of intense lectures, personalized research guidance and networking opportunities. The lectures for this year’s Grad Camp were:

Severin Borenstein, UC Berkeley: Energy Markets
Max Auffhammer, UC Berkeley: Economics of Climate Change
Katherine Wagner, University of British Columbia: Economics of Natural Disaster Insurance
James Sallee, UC Berkeley: Equity and Efficiency in Environmental Policy
Teevrat Garg, UC San Diego: Environment and Development I
Susanna Berkouwer, University of Pennsylvania: Environment and Development II
Meredith Fowlie, UC Berkeley: Economics of Wildfire
Joe Shapiro, UC Berkeley: Globalization and the Environment
Lucas Davis, UC Berkeley: The Energy Transition: Challenges and Opportunities

We are fortunate to have a deep bench of UC Berkeley faculty who were able to step in when visiting faculty had to unexpectedly change their plans this year.

In addition to the lectures, Max organizes 5 minute “egg timer” slots for Grad Camper to present a research idea and get feedback from their peers. This year there were 55 egg timers and since they are slotted in during the lunch period this made for very full days! On Thursday, Max had a surprise for the group when M.I.T. Professor and former Faculty Director of the Energy Institute Catherine Wolfram, previously part of the Biden Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate and Energy Economics at the U.S. Treasury, joined them for lunch and spoke about her experiences as an academic working in a high-level government position.

Grad Campers are also invited to submit a two-page research proposal and have it reviewed and commented on by one of the lecturers. Again, 55 of the 65 participants availed them of this resource and received expert advice from the best in the field. To date, more than 500 Ph.D. students from across North America have participated in Grad Camp!

We are always gratified that our Grad Campers get so much out of the experience. Here are a couple of the accolades we received from this year’s cohort:

“The camp was amazing! I met other grad students that are working on areas very close to mine and are excited to keep talking about related topics. It was really great to see the different areas of research that the professors are working on to get a larger breadth of topic ideas. It was so inspiring! I feel like I could spend the next 6 months reviewing my notes and the slides from camp, coming up with different research ideas to explore.”

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to have attended Camp. The experience made me feel a part of the environmental economics community and changed how I approach and frame my work. Thank you for an incredible week.”

Grad Camp has been made possible by the generous support and funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. With the Sloan grant, we were able increase access by offering travel fellowships for attendees who lacked resources to cover their travel costs.

The Energy Institute will hold another Grad Camp next August 19 – 23, 2024. We are always on a mission to reach as broad of an applicant pool as possible so please share this amazing opportunity with anyone you think may be interested. More information can be found here.