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Climate Change, Adaptation and Higher Education: Securing Our Future

Author(s): Sarua

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to outline a unique six-step process for the inclusion of climate change adaption goals and strategies in a University Climate Change Plan. Design/methodology/approach – A mixed-method approach was used to gather data on campus climate change vulnerabilities and adaption strategies. A literature review highlighted common themes in adaption research. Meetings, surveys, and a specialized workshop with climate scenarios were created to elicit campus and community input. Findings – The majority of the peer-reviewed and grey literature surrounding climate change adaptation planning is aimed at larger levels of organization than a University campus (e.g. nations, populations, regions, and cities). An original planning process was created to identify vulnerabilities, risks and strategies. Key vulnerabilities fell into three main areas of concern: energy, transportation, and built environment. Adaptation goals, objectives and strategies were outlined for the Dalhousie University Climate Change Plan, based on risk levels associated with vulnerabilities. Research limitations/implications – The adaption survey and workshop was created for this research. Small improvements were suggested for future use. The six weather scenarios presented at the workshop emphasized extreme events. Some participants felt that scenarios should be developed that feature smaller climate changes over a longer period of time. The prioritization activity used to establish risk needed to clarify the definition of risk being used. Future scenarios could include more consideration of socio-economic factors. Originality/value – Specific planning frameworks to create campus-level climate adaptation strategies are sparse. A unique planning framework and workshop was developed to identify key climate change adaption strategies for universities.

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