A Resilient Roanoke: A Risk Assessment in Support of Increased Climate Resilience at Roanoke College

Author: Abigail Supplee
Major: Environmental Studies, Political Science
Approved: Spring 2019
Status: Completed

This project provides an initial assessment of the risks and perceived risks facing Roanoke College and the surrounding community due to the changing climate in the areas of infrastructure, economics, ecosystem services, social equity & governance, and health & wellness. Specifically, this study identifies potential threats along with possible ways that resilience can be promoted. This project identifies the need for a resilience plan focused on Roanoke College and fulfills part of the first steps of this process. This type of plan addresses opportunities for promoting environmental and institutional resilience. Resilience refers to the ability of a system, city, or community to respond to change and to continue to develop.1 This project is focused on resilience in the face of a changing climate. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, climate action plans often provide a myriad of community benefits such as community engagement, strengthened infrastructure, and future cost savings. The benefactors of this socio-ecological study are Roanoke College and Salem, Virginia, which are both located in the Roanoke Valley along the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This study begins with a risk assessment using existing data to synthesize the projected impacts of climate change. A survey was administered to gather research on current perceptions of resilience from the community and students, as well as to gauge knowledge-based issues within the community. Finally, a series of stakeholder interviews were conducted to measure the perceived risks held by this group of subjects. Together, the report, survey, and interviews evaluate the challenges and opportunities associated with the creation of a resilience assessment needed to inform future work in this area.