In fall 2017, The University of Connecticut first offered a course entitled Climate Resilience and Adaptation: Municipal Policy and Planning. One major component of this course is the opportunity to work with the UConn Climate Corps. Drawing inspiration from President Franklin Roosevelt’s highly successful Civilian Conservation Corps, the UConn Climate Corps encourages students to combat climate change, and apply real-life problem-solving skills to immediately impact, their local communities.
The course is also being conducted throughout the 2018-2019 academic year. According to Elaina Hancock of UConn Communications, “the fall portion is a classroom-based course where students learn how to perform vulnerability assessments and to navigate the process by which policy decisions are made at the local or town level. The spring semester follows with in-the-field training and service learning, to give students the tools and opportunities to help communities become more resilient against climate change”. Although political and financial obstacles place a heavy burden upon policy planning and inaction, students can propose practical solutions to creatively curtail such impediments and nevertheless enable success; such an ability translates well to everyday circumstances.
Besides, devising their own policies, students can assist local communities with their outreach efforts. One particularly notable and cooperative task involves facilitating coastal towns’ application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s point-based community rating system. Communities that aspire enrollment into this system “must assess their risks and then put into practice measures to educate the community and measures to reduce potential damage to flood-prone, insurable areas. When towns are enrolled in the community rating system, there is a chance they can decrease flood insurance costs for members of the community”. Furthermore, one shoreline town was so satisfied with the UConn Climate Corps’ cost-efficient resilience actions that it expressed interest in meeting with the organization again in the near future; students can ensure environmental sustainability and thrive in the outside world by learning to establish healthy, symbiotic relationships.
UConn students and other young people have incredibly powerful, forward-thinking voices to impart upon society. The UConn Climate Corps and its companion course provide students with the rare, yet refreshing opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills applicable to everyday life and take direct action against their local communities’ shortcomings. Instead of merely sitting in a lecture hall and learning about others’ amazing accomplishments, students can etch their names into the history books that their offspring may read someday. Even the smallest, least time-consuming contributions will make a significant long-term difference, so people of all ages should combat climate change by any feasible means.
Michael Katz is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org.