Implications of President’s Obama’s Climate Remarks for New Energy Technology

President Obama’s remarks at Georgetown make certain tax reforms essential for achievement of his goals.  In his remarks, Mr. Obama highlighted the role that technology plays in our energy future.  New technology has yielded the drilling advances and extraction capability linked with America’s growing supply of natural gas and oil.  Additional new energy technology will come not only through federal research grants but also from R&D done in the private sector. New taxes on the energy industry, in both the traditional oil & gas segment, as well as the renewable sector, will only take away money from areas that support R&D. Historically, the energy industry has sought out new and innovated technologies that increase energy capability and development which benefit everyone.

The President noted the benefits that the U.S. is receiving from the technological advances that have led to growth in the supply of natural gas.  Observing that there are criticisms of natural gas extraction, the President stated, “We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.”  The lower carbon intensity of natural gas is one of its considerable advantages (See Penley on Education and Energy – EPA Study Provides Favorable Findings for Natural Gas).

In addition to the role that new technology has played in unlocking the enormous U.S. supply of natural gas, technology is also making a considerable difference in other energy areas, e.g., efficiency of photovoltaic cells for the production of solar energy, oil sands technology and high efficiency carbon capture.  The latter area of technology development becomes especially important to mitigating climate change from atmospheric carbon in that fossil fuels, as Mr. Obama observed, will be around for many years to come.

Accomplishing the President’s goals, however, makes policy change essential. Among the most valuable policy changes for incenting new energy technology is tax reform associated with R&D tax credits for U.S. companies.  This type of reform was called for in a bipartisan report from the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC): Catalyzing American Ingenuity: The Role of Government in Energy Innovation.  Without broadly drawn R&D tax credits that are generally applicable to the energy industry that do not have limitations to just the renewable energy sector, it is unlikely we will achieve the President’s goals.

The AEIC has linked a viable U.S. energy policy directly to the economic health of the country.  AEIC pointedly notes that underinvestment by the private sector in new R&D in energy limits U.S. economic health.  As the report detailed, U.S. underinvestment in energy R&D occurs as a result of the capital-intensive nature of the energy industry, the need for large up-front investments with slow turnover in capital assets, and the imperfect energy market leading to slow adoption of new technology.

R&D tax credits have historically been subject to repeated expiration with uncertainty about their renewal or the timetable for renewal.  That uncertainty limits the development of new technology in capital-intensive sectors like energy.  Moreover, R&D tax credits have been targeted at specific segments of the energy industry like wind and solar.  This practice of targeting specific segments of the industry limits the development of widespread new energy technology.  The consequence is that the historic underinvestment by the U.S. energy industry hampers the development of a broad range of new technology — from innovative sources of renewable energy to innovative technology for capture and sequestration of carbon to cheaper and more widely available sources of cleaner fossil fuels like natural gas.

The President’s remarks at Georgetown were about more than climate change; they addressed the need for policy that will advance the development of innovative energy technology.  They make the case for the President to address tax reform with specific attention to the issue of R&D tax credits that will encourage an industry that is critical to our economic health.


Secondary Teacher Preparation and the Challenge for School Districts

This past week saw the publication of an important report card of interest to school districts as well as prospective teachers and their parents.  The National Council on Teacher Quality issued the Teacher Prep Review Report for 2013.  Any district engaged in hiring new teachers will want to consider the quality of the program from which the prospective new hire is graduating, and the Report is an excellent source of advice.

We have witnessed the decline in US students’ knowledge of critical subjects like mathematics, science and reading, skill areas that are critical for our economic prosperity.  This new report from the National Council points directly to one important cause of the poor achievement levels of our children in American schools – the quality of teacher preparation programs from America’s colleges and universities.  Penley on Education and Energy has written before of the critical role that teacher preparation plays, e.g., in the implementation of common core standards.

The Report makes clear the challenge faced by prospective teachers and school districts that are hiring new teachers.  It is especially pronounced in certain regions of the US.  In my own Western region there were only six Honor Roll programs in secondary teacher preparation, including Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton College.  Those six programs represent all of the Mountain West and Western states.  Not one of the six Honor Roll programs in the West and Mountain West also had affordable tuition, according to the Report.

In the southeastern states and Texas, there were several affordable options from the Honor Roll for secondary teacher preparation.  They included Southeastern Louisiana University, the University of Texas – Pan American, Arkansas Tech University, Austin Peay State University, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Central Arkansas, and Texas Southern University. But only 23 programs in the entire country made the list of Honor Roll secondary teacher preparation programs with affordable tuition.

The National Council on Teacher Quality’s Report is explicit about what needs to be done by school districts:

a. Enact a policy that student teachers can only be assigned to highly effective teachers (based on measureable student learning results) who are capable adult mentors.

b. Manage carefully the number of student teaching placements in your district in light of the overproduction of teachers, especially in elementary education programs.

c. Districts should raise standards for the qualifications of teacher candidates to whom the district will offer placements.

d. Insist that the placing academic institution take into account and weigh heavily the district’s evaluation of a student teacher.

Let us hope that actions like these recommended ones by the Council for school districts will create the needed pressure on colleges and universities to improve their teacher preparation programs.   Out prosperity and quality of life depend upon it.

US Leads World in Growth in Oil – As Forecasted

As predicted before, new evidence about energy production and consumption provides considerable insight into the development of market strategies.  The new report shows dramatic growth in the available supply of oil from the U.S. The 62nd annual BP Statistical Review of World Energy reported that the U.S. was among the larger global producers of oil.  The U.S. led in growth of oil production with a 14% growth rate, year over year.  Saudi Arabia, still a world leader in oil production, grew at a 4% rate by comparison while U.S. production now represents about three-quarters of Saudi Arabia’s daily production.

The growth in U.S. production of oil is something that Penley on Education and Energy has previously noted as a likely outcome of technological improvements associated with oil extraction and the development of shale beds. Interestingly though the real news in the BP report is the increasing use of non-oil energy sources and the worldwide shift in demand for oil, once again signaling that that emerging markets will increasingly play an even greater role in the world market.  Bob Dudley, Executive for the BP Group and Thunderbird School of Global Management alumnus said:

For those of us in the energy industry, the challenges are about how we respond to the big shifts we are seeing – a shift in demand towards emerging economies and a shift in supply towards a greater diversity of energy sources, including unconventionals.

In developed countries like the U.S., oil consumption declined by 3%, despite the dramatic, forecasted increase in production.  The shift in increased consumption in emerging markets was evident once again in this data.   Although consumption increased by 5% in China, this was not record-setting for its rapidly growing economy.  Far more significant is the signal for growth in developing markets such as Africa where consumption was up 5% and in the Middle East were increases rose by 4.5%.

Differential changes to regional oil consumption continue to signal the global shift in economic opportunity from North America and Western Europe to regions of the world represented by emerging market economies such as Africa, Asia and Latin America. This serves as a reminder to businesses from all sectors, including education, that the prospects for the future lie in these emerging markets..

The BP Report also, as Mr. Dudley observed, a greater diversity in sources of energy and the continued potential that exists in non-traditional sources of energy for changes to labor markets and business opportunities.  Consumption of energy from renewable sources grew by double digits in many parts of the world, including developing countries.  In the U.S. and Europe (including Eurasia), consumption of renewable energy rose year-over-year by 12% and 15% respectively.  In emerging market regions like Latin America, the growth rate of consumption of renewables was even stronger at 20%.  Israel’s growth rate was a staggering 46%. Still accounting for just less than 5% of total energy consumption worldwide, renewables managed to reach a new record at this level.

Further evidence of the shift to more diverse sources of energy was the 2% increase in the production of natural gas.  The U.S. led the way in total volume change, but production grew in every global region except for Europe.   A surprising element of the data was the finding that trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) declined.  This could have been the case for several reasons.  One possibility is the global growth in use of the new technologies associated with fracking, limiting the need for imports from other regions of the world.  A second possible reason is continued restrictions by some governments such as our own here in the U.S. on export permits of LNG.  A third is the simple matter of the increased costs associated with transportation.  The Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas estimated that, at the low end, cost of terminals, liquefaction and transportation from Louisiana to Malaysia, for example, added $1.68 per million BTu.

The BP Report shows us that there is considerable change in the production and consumption of energy across the world..  Its implications are significant for our understanding of global economic development and for understanding the foundation for the development of global market strategies.  These changes also help to signal where labor markets are headed and offer insight to those of us in education about the likely areas where job growth will grow and ebb.  The study of energy consumption and reports like these show us not only where energy is going and how it’s moving but also where the next great opportunities lie.

Fracking, Natural Gas, and Health

The health impact of fossil fuels has been an issue under discussion for some time.  Earlier this year, I examined the issue of air quality, fine particulates and their scientific relationship with respiratory health in Penley on Education and Energy.  Another topic that has been repeatedly explored is the increased use of natural gas in the generation of electricity and it’s substantial, positive impact on the environment. New research reported here is consistent with the environmental value that comes from the increased availability and use of natural gas in the generation of electricity.

A scientific study, published in the February 2013 issue of Environment International, addressed the broad topic of the economic impact of fossil fuels via the relationship of fossil fuel-related emissions to health costs.  The research is worth understanding in light of the continued controversy over hydraulic fracturing or fracking –the primary method of accessing the plentiful amounts of natural gas located in shale formations across the country.  Fracking is the process whereby liquids are injected into shale substrata or formations in order to release stored natural gas, previously inaccessible without this new technology.

The scientific study from Environment International examines the economic impact of three fossil fuels widely used in the generation of electricity — coal, oil and natural gas.  The impact on health from fossil fuels can be understood from their creation of atmospherically released particulates or particulate matter (PM).  There is documentation that fine particulates, such as those associated with the burning of fossil fuels have an impact on respiratory health.  The widely circulated pictures of poor air quality in Beijing in the last year along with the increased reports in temporally associated respiratory problems are a well-known example.

The health-related costs referred to in the study are what economists call externalities.  Externalities are the costs or benefits to a society that are not included in the price of a good, i.e., in this case the price of the fossil fuel being used to generate electricity.  The study found that there were vast differences related to health costs from coal, oil and natural gas. The study’s results are relatively consistent with earlier research conducted by the National Research Council on the hidden costs of various fuel sources.

The study found that dollars to dimes, natural gas had a much smaller effect economically on overall health costs when related to other fossils fuels. While coal or oil have associated economic values of health impacts ranging from $.08-$.45/kWH; natural gas was found to be only between $0.1-$0.2/kWH. When you consider the amount of electricity generated by a coal-fired plant or one fueled by natural gas, economically the health costs to natural gas attribute to only a mere 5% of the total amount.

The considerably lower impact on the health costs of natural gas makes a strong case for its increased use. Natural gas has been found to be cleaner to burn, widely-available, affordable to access and far more cost-neutral when it comes to the economic health costs associated with its development. The development of hydraulic fracturing has not only opened a window to the stability of our energy future, but also to our long-term health costs when dealing with the use of fossil fuels.

Realigning Higher Education and Employment Opportunity II

Earlier in Penley on Education and Energy, I discussed potential means to address global youth unemployment from The Laureate Summit on Youth & Jobs in Europe.  The Summit was held in Madrid Spain, and the highlight for many was the appearance and comments by two world leaders – Prince Felipe of Spain and former US President Bill Clinton, reported El Mundo.  As a participant in the Summit, I agree.

Said Prince Felipe, “Governments and public institutions have the responsibility of initiating policies that favor the creation of stable employment.”  In a style that many of us in America have observed before in Mr. Clinton, he pointed out that youth represent too much human capital and too much production capacity not to break out of our current severe youth unemployment pattern.

Reflecting the role played by partnerships between colleges and employers in identifying needed knowledge and skills for graduates (See earlier blog), Mr. Clinton urged that we focus on microeconomics rather than macroeconomics for solutions to youth unemployment.  We need to examine the employment picture industry by industry, he said, forecasting the likely growth in employment in the various industries.  Echoing the words that I have heard from Nobel Laureate and Chicago economist Gary Becker, Mr. Clinton pointed to the role of human capital.  As a major source of human capital, it is up to colleges and universities to clarify relevant and employable career paths with the incorporation of appropriate knowledge and skills for graduates whose goal it is to have jobs in those industries that are forecast for growth.

President Clinton’s emphasis on microeconomics included his urging that colleges and universities accept that there will be slowdowns with the necessity of sufficient flexibility for moving to where there is work.  While he did not say explicitly where there was needed flexibility, it is evident that he was referring to those of us in higher education that must redesign courses and curricula if the challenge of youth unemployment is to be addressed.

While the Summit did not solve youth unemployment, it did offer direction.  Bringing together representatives of education, business and government was the best approach to beginning a process to address youth unemployment.  The problem of youth unemployment is complex. As Mr. Clinton said, “Complex arguments do not lend themselves to creative solutions by one mind.”

Realigning Higher Education and Employment Opportunity

This past week in Madrid Spain, Laureate International Universities hosted The Laureate Summit on Youth & Jobs in Europe.  While held in Europe with a focus on the especially large challenges of youth unemployment in Europe, the fundamental question addressed at the conference is one just as important to other parts of the world, including North America: How can we improve college and university graduates’ employment opportunities?

Unemployment in countries like Spain where the summit was held is above 50% for youth.  Even in the US, unemployment and underemployment have remained a challenge.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the April 2013 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for US males between 16 and 19 was 24.1% in contrast to an overall unemployment rate of 7.5%.  Youth unemployment is a worldwide problem.

Doug Becker, the Founder of Laureate, opened the Summit with a focus on two significant issues that are associated with youth unemployment – (a) the assessment gap and (b) the reinvention of work.  Mr. Becker pointed to the limitations that colleges and universities have in assisting employers in assessing the skills of young people beyond grades, test scores and graduation.  He pointed to the need for colleges and universities to develop professional assessment tools that measured the assessment gap.  He also focused on the challenge that colleges and universities will face in the future with the reinvention of work as “on-demand” rather than permanent.  We already see the challenges of “on demand” work in the number of contract employees rather than permanent employees.

It was the assessment gap that captured the attention of many of those who spoke after Mr. Becker.  Jesus Galindo of Cisco in Spain stated, “There is a gap between what the company needs and what is offered in the labor market.”  Mr. Galindo was pointing to the need for colleges and universities to do a far better job of addressing the assessment gap.  One solution is for colleges and universities to develop close partnerships with industry and individual businesses.  With a close partnership higher education can increase the extent to which it modifies curriculum, internships and other aspects of the academic experience to provide students the opportunities to build needed knowledge and skills.

Another option is the one that Mr. Becker described at Laureate in terms of an assessment tool that can be used by student and counselor to identify those courses and experiences (e.g., internships) that will fill gaps and increase the specific knowledge and skills desired by businesses.  This early college assessment can then be reviewed in light of a later assessment that the graduate can provide to an employer.

While the Summit was not intended to solve the global youth unemployment problem, it did make progress in bringing together parties from business, education and government with suggestions like partnerships and new forms of assessment to raise the preparation of youth for employment.

Jobs and More Jobs – the Promise of Natural Gas in the US

The Small Business & Entrepreneurial Council’s new study is telling about the potential future for job growth.  Entitled, The Benefits of Natural Gas Production and Exports for U.S. Small Businesses, this study makes clear that natural gas has led to the expansion of small business in the US and to the creation of 146,000 jobs between 2005 and 2010 as total US jobs fell by 4.3 million over the same period.  As we approach more forums by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee relative to liquid natural gas (LNG) exports, it is worth noting the jobs-related potential that can come from allowing new permits for LNG export.

The Council’s report not only identified the specifics of job growth, it attributed some of the job growth to small businesses. While total employers fell over the five-year period between 2005 and 2010 by 4.2% in the US, small businesses with less than 500 employees in sectors like oil and gas extraction grew by 3%.   In some other related sectors, growth percentages were higher in the face of a declining overall US economy.

The forums by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee could make a difference in the potential for future job growth.  The US continues to have an enormous potential for the production of natural gas.  This huge reserve has meant that the US has very favorable prices for natural gas when compared with the rest of the world.  The Council’s study reports recent prices for natural gas in the US of $3 per million metric British thermal units of energy, compared with a price of $11 – 13 in Europe and $18 in Southeast Asia.  The price differential explains the potential for exports from the US to the rest of the world – and the potential for additional job growth from large and small US businesses.

Some business representatives, especially in the chemical industry, have argued against permitting additional LNG exports.  Their argument for industry protection is associated with their own interest in protection and in producing chemicals at relatively lower prices with cheap US natural gas.  This kind of argument for isolating an industry or a country from world markets is one we have seen for centuries.  Isolationism and industry protection have not generally proved good for a country’s economy.  Some historians have catalogued the decline of the Spanish economy centuries ago to its decision to isolate domestic markets.  More recent examples of attempts at isolation are evident in agriculture from both the US and the European Union.

Generally speaking, the economy is a global one, and attempts at isolation are suboptimal.  Isolation tends to raise prices for a country’s citizens and limit economic growth.  The consequences are slower growth or decline in new businesses and limitations on growth or declines in new jobs.  As the US economy remains fragile in its recovery from the recent recession, this is no time for the US Government to take actions, which will be harmful to US job growth.  And the argument is easily made that this is especially no time to stifle the potential in an industry like natural gas that has been nearly singular in its job growth in the face of overall decline in most other US industry sectors.

EPA Study Provides Striking, Favorable Findings for Natural Gas

The annual EPA report on greenhouse gases – Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2011 – published this past month, is striking for its findings on both carbon and methane and the impact of natural gas on the environment.  Its findings include evidence that is favorable to natural gas relative to two very important greenhouse gases: carbon and methane.  The findings associated with methane are especially important because they will be surprising in light of recent media reports.  The EPA report shows a decline in methane, raising serious questions about the methodology and findings of recent studies of ambient methane release associated with natural gas extraction.

Natural gas is increasingly becoming the fuel of choice for electric power generation.  There are many reasons for this, but an important one has been the relatively lower production of atmospheric carbon from natural gas.  However, the rationale for the transition to natural gas in the power industry goes well beyond its comparative advantage in friendliness to the environment from lower release of carbon.  Since 2009, the price of natural gas has declined while that of coal has risen.  Contributing substantially to the increase in supply of natural gas and its lower price has been the extraction method known as fracking.  Hydraulic fracturing of shale – or fracking – involves fracturing layers of underground shale using high-pressure injection of liquids.  The newness of the process has raised a variety of environmental questions.

When examining the impact of natural gas on the environment, it is important to understand why it is considered a cleaner fuel source.  Natural gas is a lower carbon intense fuel.  It produces the same unit of heat or electricity with a 55% lower carbon content than some other fuels such as coal.  US greenhouse gas emissions declined from 2007 to 2011 as a result of “a decrease in coal consumption, with increased natural gas consumption and a significant increase in hydropower used.”

Nevertheless, the increasing use of the fracking process for extraction of natural gas from shale has been questioned for its environmental friendliness, particularly from the potential for increased methane production.  Among the questions has been a set dealing with the potential that the process has for producing unintended emissions of greenhouse gases that offset the advantage of the lower carbon intensity of natural gas.  Of particular attention has been the production of methane in what has been referred to as fugitive methane emissions.  Methane has more than 20 times the capacity of carbon for trapping heat in the atmosphere.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that atmospheric methane has increased by 158% over the last 250 years.

The annual EPA report adds very important information about natural gas and fugitive methane emissions. While natural gas remains a large potential source of methane, emissions of methane have decreased since 1990.  This decrease occurred at the same time that the supply of natural gas has increased substantially, at the same time that the fracking process was introduced for extraction of natural gas, and, most importantly, at the same time use of natural gas has increased.  In examining specifically the issue of methane production from fracking, the EPA report compared current findings of its Inventory with its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP).  There are unreconciled differences between these two reports.  Moreover, the GHRP data “show lower overall methane emissions from well completions with hydraulic fracturing and workovers with hydraulic fracturing (refracturing) than calculated in this inventory.”

Clearly more studies will examine the issues of methane production from the fracking process.  The EPA will also work to reconcile data from different methodologies for measuring greenhouse gases.  But overall data from this Inventory are simply inconsistent with what has been reported from some studies about the impact of fracking on methane production.

Education Innovation II

The Arizona Education Innovation Summit presented numerous challenges for attendees, including the one I wrote about last week – the challenge of accepting Education Innovation.  Another challenge that attendees confronted was accepting that for-profit does not equal unethical or irresponsible in an education provider.

There are many reasons for the difficulty that many people have in seeing the positive in for-profit education.  The first, of course, is that traditional American education has been principally public or private, nonprofit.  We are unfamiliar with the alternative.  That has been true in primary, secondary and higher education.  The second reason has been the bad press received by many for-profit providers of higher education of late.  Certainly some of that bad press is warranted.

However, my decades of experience in public, higher education leaves me willing to state unequivocally that public education does not equal high quality education.  There are excellent public colleges and universities as there are excellent private nonprofit colleges and universities.  But a nonprofit designation does not mean that graduation rates are necessarily high nor that graduates of nonprofits find jobs because of the corporate status of the school.

Elizabeth Purvis, CEO of Chicago International Charter Schools stated it most clearly when she charged that that making a distinction between for-profit and nonprofit schools was “actually a ridiculous argument.”  “It’s about outcomes,” she went on to state at the Education Innovation Summit.  Jonathan Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA, went further.  In describing the rapid growth of Charter Schools USA, Mr. Hage made the case that the schools of Charter Schools USA could not have succeeded so well if they had been nonprofit rather than for-profit.  A nonprofit would have had to invest its resources in raising money, for example.  Instead the for-profit corporate status made it possible to bring together business acumen and academic excellence.

Already we are seeing change in the collaboration and intertwining of for-profits and nonprofits.  Traditional nonprofit colleges and universities are turning to for-profits for partnerships.  Universities like Arizona State and the University of Maryland are finding that Pearson is a good partner for online education.  Others are finding that AfterCollege is a good partner for job opportunities for graduates or that Insidetrack is a good partner for raising persistence rates.  And K-12 has long turned to for-profits for texts; now they are turning to companies like Adaptive Curriculum for online support for students’ classroom learning experiences and as substitutes for texts.

The Education Innovation Summit is a celebration of the possible and a window on the future of education.  I have frequently said that we will see a day when one will not ask whether the school or college is for-profit or nonprofit but whether it delivers on promised outcomes – of expected knowledge and skills from K-12 and post-graduate opportunities from higher education, e.g., jobs or advanced degrees for college graduates.  It has become uncommon to ask whether a hospital is for-profit or nonprofit.  We take the advice of our physician or we search out the increasing number of evaluations of hospital.  I anticipate that, despite challenges to for-profit K-12 and for-profit higher education, we will see the question about corporate status no longer asked – and soon.

Education Innovation

The challenges – and the opportunities – ahead for education are the subject of the Education Innovation Summit this week in Arizona.  Along with President Michael Crow of Arizona State University, the conference began with comments from Michael Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP (knowledge is Power Program).  This Summit is the same one about which I have written in the past (see Penley on Education and Innovation).

Mr. Feinberg amused the crowd with his comments about the letter, Yuzz, from the Dr. Seuss book, On Beyond Zebra.  This less well-known Dr. Seuss book is about the letters of the alphabet beyond Z that most of us ignore.  The message of the book is straightforward; it is those things that most people ignore that excite us and lead to innovation.  And that was the message of Mr. Feinberg about education; the potential for innovation in education is considerable and exciting.  We have only to open ourselves to the excitement and potential of what is out there.  We have only to permit innovation rather than restrict ourselves to traditional models of education from which we learned.

The message is one that encourages us to welcome innovation in education.  It is one that asks that we be open ourselves to possibility and that we not constrain ourselves by what has been done in the past.  Education has been a very stable industry.  Much more is demanded of it today in building students’ problem-solving and critical thinking capabilities, in making our society more competitive, and in raising economic prosperity for all.  If we accept and welcome innovation, education offers us much that we yet don’t recognize, like those letters beyond Z.  But it requires that we are willing to change.

That willingness to change is essential if we are to take advantage of the way people learn – not at a time and place defined by schools – but based on actively and individualized defined needs.  That willingness to change offers opportunity if we encourage new forms of education: new charter schools in K-12, competency-based assessment in higher education, new structures and models for schools and colleges, and the integration of eLearning into a maturing understanding of the role of teachers with integrated digital learning resources.

The Education Innovation Summit is a great learning experience but also a celebration of the possible.  The question that all of us must confront is whether we are willing to change and whether we are willing to open ourselves to policies that encourage change. Indeed, it is a question about whether we are capable of looking beyond Z.