Josh Laufer
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My Story

Josh Laufer is a PhD candidate in the Law and Public Policy Program. He is deeply concerned about climate change, energy and resource depletion, and food and water security. He hopes to better understand how these challenges will interact with each other as they become more acute. Josh aspires to improve the resilience of the region to enhance social stability and prosperity despite these challenges. In Spring 2017, Josh began writing his dissertation, working as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate LPSC 2301 “Introduction to Law, Policy, and Society” course, and collaborating with faculty and other PhD students in contributing to the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute’s Resilience Governance project.

This is Josh’s Northeastern story…

“I am a scholar of climate change, energy, and policy.”

My Path
Photo Credit: Eric Winter/Northeastern University
Why Law and Public Policy?

Josh has always been interested in the intersection of sustainability and resilience through a national security lens.

The PhD in Law and Public Policy, he says, has uniquely allowed him to study policy theory, practice, climate change, and resilience all under one roof in an interdisciplinary way.

“The breadth and depth of faculty expertise you have access to as mentors and advisors facilitates interdisciplinary research, analysis, and information synthesis in fields critical to our collective future. The academic atmosphere is excellent preparation for real-world collaboration via its rigor and cooperative spirit.”

Transformative Coursework
  • POLS 7704 Critical Infrastructure Resilience
  • LPSC 7308 Law and Legal Reasoning
  • PPUA 6205 Research Design and Methodology in Urban and Regional Policy

Climate change and energy have been the major topics Josh explored during his academic career. In POLS 7704 “Critical Infrastructure Resilience,” an interdisciplinary course taught by professors Stephen Flynn and Auroop R. Ganguly, Josh acquired a theoretical and practical grounding in how resilience was defined and implemented by the Obama administration.

The LPSC 7308 “Law and Legal Reasoning” course, on the other hand, gave him a new appreciation for case law and the capacity to navigate and interpret law that is shaping national policy. The PPUA 6205Research Design and Methodology in Urban and Regional Policy” course changed the way he views case studies.

“The ‘Research Design and Methodology‘ course I took taught me how to be cognizant of bias and threats to validity when reading and designing academic studies. I have never viewed any academic journal article or study the same since taking this class.”


Josh is currently writing his dissertation on overcoming legal, policy, and financial barriers to implementing microgrids in the state as one approach to improve the resilience of the electric grid.

He is also working with another PhD student and faculty in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs on a governance network analysis of energy and transportation stakeholders in the Boston metro area for the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute.

Photo Credit: Sara Feijo/Northeastern University

“As part of this effort, I have attended workshops and networked with many of the relevant stakeholders present. We hope the insights gleaned from our analysis will inform and enable more adaptive governance of the infrastructures within the bounds of our study during times of crisis.”

Photo Credit: Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University
Experiential Learning

Josh completed an applied project for the “Critical Infrastructure Resilience” course that focused on infrastructure resilience of Logan International Airport. He presented his group’s findings to Logan’s resilience officer and staff members.

“This project gave me insight into how resilience is practiced and planned for by a nation-leading port authority.”

Professional Development

Josh co-authored a journal article with professor Joan Fitzgerald published in June 2016 in the Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.

Governing green stormwater infrastructure: the Philadelphia experience” focuses on stormwater policy, governance, and organizational learning in Philadelphia.


Next Steps

After graduation, Josh hopes to continue working in energy and critical infrastructure resilience.

“In my ideal world, this would be accomplished either as a professor working with government and nonprofits, from a nonprofit working with government and academics, or as a government employee.”

Photo Credit: Eric Winter/Northeastern University
Photo Credit: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University
This was Josh's Northeastern Pathway... Where will yours lead?

Learn  more at:

School of Public Policy and Urban AffairsNortheastern University