Dr. Laura Henry-Stone, assistant professor of environmental studies and sustainability, and 12 students from her environmental studies capstone course helped plan and facilitate a climate change summit held Friday, April 13, at Randolph College.
In addition to students and faculty from Lynchburg and Randolph colleges, those attending the Community Resilience Building Forum included representatives from the City of Lynchburg, Liberty University, and a number of local nonprofits. Dr. David Perault, chair of the College’s Environmental Science Department, attended, but in his role as a member of the City of Lynchburg’s Planning Commission.
The main focus of the day-long forum was climate resilience. “Climate resilience is a term used to describe a city or community that is prepared to withstand or quickly recover from impacts to its wellbeing from extreme weather events,” Dr. Henry-Stone explained, citing as an example a tornado that struck Central Virginia on April 15. “The measure of a city’s ability to bounce back from impacts like this is a measure of its resilience. Cities and communities should be developing resilience plans that extend beyond basic emergency preparedness and property insurance and address associated social, economic, and environmental issues.”
In preparation for the forum, Dr. Henry-Stone said her students “worked in small groups of three to conduct research on different aspects of resilience,” including public transportation, public health, economics, and other areas.
“Communities should be developing plans that integrate the interests of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors,” Dr. Henry-Stone said. “These representatives should collaboratively assess the risks of the hazards that face the area, identify the community’s vulnerabilities and assets, and strategize a plan to develop resilience.”
At the forum, the students gave presentations about their research. They were well received. “I am proud to say that I received a lot of positive feedback on their work and contributions,” Dr. Henry-Stone said. “There is no doubt in my mind that this was a high-impact learning experience for them.”