The Inflation Reduction Act and higher education: open thread

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is now a reality, after Congress passed it and president Biden signed it into law.

It’s a mix of different items, from giving Congress new drug price negotiating powers to tweaking tax codes, but I wanted to highlight its focus on the climate crisis.  This IRA is the first major Congressional action taken on global warming.

What does it mean for higher education?

How can colleges and universities engage the IRA in terms of our physical campuses, teaching, curriculum, research, and community relations?  How might the law help us perform roles in mitigating and adapting to climate change?

I’d like to pose this as a discussion prompt today, since I’m spending every waking hour this week leading an intensive Georgetown seminar for new students in the Learning, Design, and Technology program. I’ll share some thoughts later on as I pry loose the hours, but wanted to give you all a chance to explore in comments.  Please use the links up above or add your own.

What do you think of IRA 2022 for colleges and universities?  The comments box stands open!

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9 Responses to The Inflation Reduction Act and higher education: open thread

  1. Ed Webb says:

    I hope we’ll be seeing campuses build even more partnerships with local community organizations and businesses where there is support for that in the Act (subsidies/tax breaks, for example). I think clean energy is an area where there should be clear opportunities for large research institutions, but even smaller colleges may find ways. Dickinson has a biogas partnership with a local brewery and farm, for example: https://www.dickinson.edu/news/article/5114/from_beer_to_biogas_creating_green_energy_using_brewers_grain_and_farm_waste

  2. Glen McGhee says:

    So, the corporations are rejecting the minimum book tax to fund climate emergency initiatives — even though THEIR CEOs are in favor of mandatory CO2 reporting, and initiatives, the heavy lobbying is going the OTHER WAY. Go figure.
    https://www.businessroundtable.org/business-roundtable-opposes-the-inflation-reduction-act

  3. Lori Ziolkowski says:

    I hope universities embrace the funding of IIJA and IRA as an opportunity. Incentivizing community engagement is key as Ed pointed out, as that is currently missing in the T&P criteria at most universities. However, I hope there are two other ways that academia embrace this opportunity: 1) adjusting curricula to train students to be systems thinkers ready for changing conditions ahead, and 2) investing in scholarship about how these bills fundamentally change the decades ahead. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Lori, I absolutely agree on the curricular and research aspects.
      Two crucial features of higher education, which we can contribute to the world.

  4. It would’ve been great if the IRA had included more incentives for institutions of higher education to support the economic and clean energy goals of the act. I would have loved to see funding or policies that incentivized coordination between IHEs to support workforce development, creation of climate-related certificates and degrees, and conduct research on the most effective workforce transition models, for example. Currently, the most detailed and direct opportunities for IHEs, particularly community and technical colleges, are related to the crucial role Registered Apprenticeship Programs play in the IRA.

    The IRA incorporates prevailing wages and registered apprenticeships as ways to to create a skilled labor pipeline, diversify the workforce, and create access to good jobs. Apprenticeships typically involve a formal classroom component, often though not always, on a college campus. The appeal for an potential apprentices is obvious: a fairly quick route to a good paying job, often paid for by the employer or deducted from your wages because, oh yeah, you also get paid while you are in the program.

    Hopefully it is now clear to IHEs that the IRA is going to accelerate the US’s transition to a green economy, which is going to require an unprecedented level of education and training.

    • Bryan Alexander says:

      Good point about how the federal government could have done more for campuses, especially in energy creation/use.

      I hope academia can see paths to that transition.

  5. Tunnel Rush says:

    I think clean energy is an area where there should be clear opportunities for large research institutions, but even smaller colleges may find ways.

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