Corey Hawkey, University Sustainability Practices assistant director, and Brian Grant, University Sustainability Practices climate resilience program assistant, led the ASU West campus events last fall. The two explained the impact of the forthcoming workshops and what they hope to achieve.

Question: What is climate resilience?

Grant: To be climate resilient is to be able to thrive in the face of a changing climate. Second Nature defines resilience as “the ability of a system or community to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt and flourish in the face of change.”  

Q: Describe the resilience plans process.

Hawkey: A Climate Resilience working group on each campus consisting of students, faculty, staff, city officials and community leaders will first create a risk assessment, then conduct a future-visioning exercise and, finally, develop a resilience plan to get to that future vision.

Q: The West campus has already completed the first two steps. Give examples of results from that process.

Hawkey: Stakeholders envisioned a much more porous campus, integrated with the surrounding neighborhoods physically, socially and programmatically. They see West serving as a regional hub for formal and informal learning at all ages.

Q: What issues will universities and colleges have to deal with because of climate change? 

Grant: Higher education institutions will be affected by social, economic and environmental issues. Depending on the area, institutions could face increased sea levels, extreme heat, drought, wildfires, flooding and severe storms. They may become areas of refuge for their communities during extreme events.

Q: Why involve students, faculty, staff and the community? 

Grant: A cornerstone of resilience is social cohesion. Our climate-resilience work operates on the notion that if one population is vulnerable, we are all vulnerable. At the same time, with social connectedness and flexibility, we can be each other’s most valuable asset. Climate resilience necessitates the university's social embeddedness. 

Q: What is your goal for the spring events?

Grant: The intent of the upcoming workshops is three-fold: To educate people on what climate resilience means and why it is important, to facilitate greater social cohesion among university and community members and to complete resilience assessments. 

For more information, contact Brian Grant.

Peter Northfelt

Editor assistant, Business and Finance Support – Communications