Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kleinmaier seeks to sustain economic, social progress

Dan Kleinmaier


After graduating in May 2012, Dan Kleinmaier is joining the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau as an analyst.

Public policy can help sustain an improved standard of living, says La Follette School student Dan Kleinmaier.

"Our society has achieved many great things and improved the standard of living for many," Kleinmaier says. "However, it appears we have done so in a manner that is unsustainable. Our greatest challenge in the next century will be to continue to progress economically and socially while changing our behavior to be more sustainable."

Kleinmaier sees public policy as an important tool in changing human behavior, so important that he is pursuing a double master's degree in public affairs and in urban and regional planning. The public affairs and planning degrees gives him an opportunity to explore in-depth how to best influence sustainability. "URPL is a natural complement to La Follette," Kleinmaier says. "Many sustainability issues can be solved or mitigated with effective planning."

He came to the La Follette School after graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1999 with a degree in economics and communication arts. He worked in education and youth development for several years. "Those experiences demonstrated the impact public policy can have on human behavior," he says.

The relationships among human behavior, planning and public policy have played out in research and analysis Kleinmaier has conducted as part of his project assistantship with the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education. "I have analyzed and proposed potential policy solutions in the transportation sector," he says. "In one specific instance, I worked on developing a policy framework for county engineers relative to the use and maintenance of county roads where large wind farms are being constructed." He co-wrote a paper on the transportation challenges associated with the construction of wind farms and presented the findings at the 2010 Great Lakes Wind Collaborative annual meeting and the 2010 E-Hub Conference.

Also for CFIRE, Kleinmaier is working on a cost-benefit study to determine the impact of longer combination vehicles — trucks with multiple trailers — on improving operational efficiency, freight flows and traffic congestion. He also worked extensively on a study investigating the effects of increasing weight limits for cargo containers in Wisconsin as part of a wider Midwestern project.

Kleinmaier applies his public affairs classroom work to his research for CFIRE. "The statistics courses have been useful for understanding concepts in studies I have read," he says, adding that he is applying his skills from the cost-benefit course in the longer combination vehicles analysis for CFIRE.

After graduating, Kleinmaier hopes to work in policy development and sustainability, perhaps in transportation and infrastructure, which would build on his experience with his project assistantship. But he is open to advancing sustainability in other sectors, including energy and general planning. "The double degree in planning and public affairs will open career doors," he says. "La Follette School graduates have been very successful in their careers."

— updated June 6, 2012