Sustaining an Empire

From just a few seminars a year, Kaplan has built the institute up to include programs of "major impact." Both Mexico and Brazil now participate in those Aspen meetings; in fact, the last Brazilian confab, which focused on energy privatization, was held in Colorado two weeks ago. Kaplan was just back from coordinating a Ford Foundation-backed gathering of fifteen American universities and their counterparts in Mexico, with a goal of forming partnerships. Closer to home, the Tim Wirth Chair has an ambitious slate of projects for the new year, including adding junior fellows to the senior fellows program; hosting a national conference in January to present a progress report on the President's Council on Sustainable Development and Recommendations Concerning a "Sustainable America"; sponsoring a town meeting on Colorado's sustainable development efforts; initiating awards programs for faculty and students, as well as for cities and counties across the state that display outstanding sustainable development initiatives; and hosting speakers from all sides of the issue in a "dialogue of civility." In his spare time--since the Eisenhower administration, Kaplan has slept only two hours a night, which he points out gives him a half-day start on the rest of us--he edits a public-policy journal, and he writes op-ed pieces encouraging metro residents not to stop at approving a new stadium but also to set up a housing initiative, and he toys with the notion of hosting a media briefing when the G-7 Summit comes to Denver in June.

With all that going on, it's no surprise that professor Kaplan didn't teach any classes this fall.

And now, about those media awards. In November, twenty months after he left the public eye, we once again heard from Kaplan. He sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to the media, introducing the Tim Wirth Chair's "new and innovative Media Awards Program" honoring "significant achievements with respect to the coverage of sustainability." Winners will receive a "beautiful plaque" and can designate the recipient of a student scholarship. Never mind that CU, which has an environmental reporting program, hadn't been consulted about this new UCD awards program in its own field, or that many of the members of the star-studded Tim Wirth Advisory Board had yet to hear about this contest they will wind up judging. Or that the institute giving the awards is actively involved with training public-policy makers who could well become the subject of such stories.

In the world of sustainable development, in Marshall Kaplan's world, there's no room for sustained skepticism.

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