Mitigation, Adaptation & Resilience: The Need for Institutional Climate Action at Roanoke College

Author: Alaina Birkel
Major: Environmental Science and Public Health
Approved: Spring 2020
Status: Completed

The focus of this project is to address climate change resilience at Roanoke College. Resilience can be defined as a system or community’s ability to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt, and flourish in the face change (Second Nature). To adequately confront the pressing issue of climate change, I propose to help develop a Resilience Plan for Roanoke College that will be presented to college administrators that discusses the College’s future goals, current strengths and potential vulnerabilities as assessed by relevant stakeholders, as well as recommendations for promoting greater resilience in the face of an unpredictable climate. This plan will be a bottom-up approach that is derived from past research and community engagement events. The background research includes a Climate Risk Assessment, initial community outreach initiatives and a few interviews with community members that were conducted in a past Honors Distinction Project. The inclusion of different community stakeholders ensures the long-term sustainability of the resilience plan as it essential that all voices are considered in formulating the plan. This project will build upon my summer internship that will focus on community engagement in climate change advocacy and conservation issues. I will then work with the multiple stakeholder groups of the Roanoke College and the Salem, Virginia community to facilitate the discussion of resilience and propose a comprehensive plan for Roanoke College. This project will be guided through recommendations set forth by the organization Second Nature, whose goals are to accelerate climate action in higher education. The final deliverables include the Roanoke College Resilience Plan, an academic paper discussing the process of developing the college’s Resilience Plan, its overall effectiveness and the theories behind this, presentation at a professional meeting, and a completion of professional certification in sustainability and resilience.