Creating Resilient Cities: Climate Adaptive and Anticipatory Practices

This lecture course examines the concept of community resiliency in the age of climate change. How do planners and designers measure, foster, organize, evaluate and implement the medley of tools, processes and programs that seek to foster resiliency in urban communities? The course reviews the concept of urban adaptation in the context of vulnerability and adaptive capacity, and examines adaptive planning through the lens of environmental justice. Research on planning and urban design approaches that minimize the hazards and public health risks of climate change and variability is emphasized. We will discuss the empirical evidence on climate impacts and the broader political economy of decision-making around environmental health issues and its relevance to creating resilient communities. We start with a definition offered by the Community and Regional Resilience Institute, \”Community resilience is the capability to anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change\” and examine the work of successful initiatives such as EnviRenew, which has created a multi-sector dialogue on how communities can plan in advance of a disaster to rebuild in more resilient and sustainable ways after a disaster. Cities have long adapted to environmental hazards and climate variability. Urban initiatives for carbon mitigation and climate adaptation have fostered the development of new institutions and planning processes aimed at promoting resilience to the impacts of climate change and variability. This course will focus our discussion of resiliency planning on the process and content of municipal planning for climate change, especially strategies aimed at reducing the impacts and public health burden of extreme events. Objectives: The course seeks to understand the methods and practical process of urban climate adaptation planning, and to critically analyze existing plans and planning in terms of the social equity objectives and the other goals of resiliency planning and sustainable development. Requirements: Each student will develop an individual research project; make a presentation to the class on this research; discuss readings and other students\’ research, and write a final paper that explores one possible place-based climate adaptation/urban resiliency plan. Student work will be evaluated based on the research paper, class presentations, discussion of the literature and other student\’s research, and the quality of overall class participation. There will be one group mid-term assignment and class exercise leading up the final report and presentation.