This seminar explores how public and private institutions and individuals, under labels of “adaptation” or “resilience,” are positioning built and natural environments to respond to threats posed by climate change. The threats include flooding caused by sea level rise and storm surges as well as changing weather conditions. Specific responses include construction and reconstruction of physical infrastructure, deployment of new building designs, and population retreat, together described by the phrase “armor, elevate, retreat.” Embedded in each of these actions are diverse questions about equity, winners and losers, vulnerability, probability and risk assessments, scales of interventions, institutional competencies, mandates versus incentives, property rights and regulation, participation processes, political will and public opinion, and public and private financial and insurance mechanisms.
Classes will consist of presentations and discussions about selected case studies, research projects, and readings. Guests will bring real-life cases and projects to the class. Students are expected to attend class, participate in discussions, complete assigned readings, and prepare a 5,000-word paper on a topic chosen by the student.