Dr. Michael Spencer - Director of Sustainability Policy

Dr. Michael Spencer

Title: Assistant Professor of Instruction
Phone: (813) 974-6906
Email: mgspencer@usf.edu


Dr. Michael Spencer is Director of Sustainability Policy and an Assistant Professor at the Patel College of Global Sustainability (PCGS) at the University of South Florida (USF). He serves as President of the Halcyon Institute, a science & technology (S&T) and foreign policy-based think tank dedicated to analysis and policy recommendation for dual use technology integration and national security challenges.  

Dr. Spencer Holds a Master's in Business Administration, a Master's in International Management, and a Ph.D. in Government and International Affairs. He was the Faculty-in-Charge and direct liaison with regional energy companies for the Energy Management program at the Lewis College of Business at Marshall University. He has been an Adjunct professor at both PCGS and Saint Leo University’s College of Education and Social Sciences.  

His past experience includes being the Director of Synergia Innovare, a non-profit research company focused on identifying viable research lines for private sector and government investing. The emphasis was on technology development to solve long term societal and environmental problems projected to occur over the next few decades. These concerns include increasing food production, improving water desalination and distribution, developing high efficiency decentralized energy systems, new materials development, and reducing the use of pollutants and volatile organic compounds.  

He was a private sector consultant in the conventional and renewable energy sectors. His focus was on assessing energy technologies and projects for commercial viability, conducting regional feasibility studies, evaluating market conditions, capital sourcing, investigating regulatory developments, and establishing collaborative partnerships to mitigate carbon emissions and intermittency problems.   

He served in the U.S. military as a Navy SEAL and later traveled extensively throughout the world. 


Fall 2023 Semester 

IDS 6235: Economics and Finance for Sustainability 

This course provides sustainability practitioners with an overview of how economics and finance are essential components of world sustainability. With a combined emphasis on environmental economics and innovative finance, students learn the basics of project finance and how scarce natural resources can be optimally allocated by individuals and society, while making a positive impact on the economy. 

IDS 6272: Research Methods in Sustainability 

The course offers critical guidance and preparation for graduate students to develop a research proposal and teaches the methods and procedures that not only satisfy academic requirements but give students hands-on, in-depth experience with the tools and methodologies and the underlying rationale for them so that students are able to responsibly design and carry out original research in their academic concentration. This course teaches the processes and procedures for a hands-on, in-depth experience with the research tools, methodologies and the underlying rationale for inquiry. In this course, students can responsibly design and conduct original research or prepare for an internship in their field of study or concentration.  

IDS 6275 - Policy for Sustainability  

This course explores the definition of sustainability policy, how policy can be implemented at all levels of government, the myriad actors involved in policy formation and implementation, metrics used to measure policy robustness, and the politics of sustainability. Policies and case studies pertaining to other Patel College of Global Sustainability concentrations will be presented and discussed.  A class debate and policy-position paper will challenge critical thinking skills. 

Additional course taught in Spring 2024 Semester 

IDS 6270 - Sustainable Food Production (3)  

This course provides an overview of global food production systems including both traditional and sustainable agriculture, animal husbandry, and aquatic farming practices, their impact on ecosystems and the environment, and solutions for feeding a rapidly growing population. 

Research Interests

Dr. Spencer's research interests include domestic and foreign policy challenges and threats to national security over Eastphalion vs Westphalion ideologies and sovereignty issues; dual use technology integration, especially digital technologies (artificial intelligence, big data acquisition, cloud networks, 5G, next gen ICT, cybersecurity, advanced semiconductors, blockchains, internet of things, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, and robotics) throughout world governments and the private sector, its projected transformation of military, intelligence collection, and manufacturing, and how these technologies combined with proper S&T policy could be used to address the complex and long-term problems in critical sectors like energy, food production, water distribution, and materials acquisition; and elite decision making, their heuristics, and ramifications on society attributed to globalization. 

Previous research involved geothermal drilling, and completion and fracturing technologies for heat extraction and exploitation; Marcellus and Utica natural gas shale extraction, exports to non-OECD countries, LNG export requirements, infrastructure development, financing in both US and end-user destinations. Additional research revolved around synergies in organic farming applications including bio-algae as feedstock, micro-organism development for composting, stacked farming applications, and hydroponic, aeroponic, and mist injection systems for high nutrient emulsions.