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UWI (FST) Mona, Columbia University partner on Climate Resilience Course in East Portland

The UWI, Mona’s Faculty of Science and Technology (FST), Columbia University, USA, and the Alligator Head Foundation in Portland have joined forces to deliver a graduate course titled: “Toward Climate Resilience and Justice: Caribbean Basin.”

This programme is facilitated by The Columbia Climate School Masters of Climate and Society Programme and Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation’s Water Urbanism Design (UD) Studio. It targets 40 graduate students – 10 from The UWI and 30 from Columbia University. Kate Orff, Faculty Director, Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes – and two other Centre colleagues – Johanna Lovecchio, Associate Director, and Dr. Thaddeus Pawlowski, Managing Director and Research Scholar, will accompany the 30 graduate students to Jamaica. They will be joined by three UWI, Mona colleagues: Dr. Thera Edwards, Lecturer & Map Curator; Dr. Sherene James Williamson, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Geography and Geology; and Dr. Ina Vandebroek, Senior Lecturer, Department of Life Sciences, and Senior Research Fellow at the Caribbean Centre for Research in Bioscience (CCRIB).

The blended team will embark on a five-day study tour of East Portland from March 10th to 14th. The programme, which is designed to explore climate justice and action through the lens of urban planning, design, and policy, aims to empower communities and ecosystems facing the brunt of the climate crisis.  "We are thrilled to be working with the brilliant faculty and students from the West Indies, supporting a global dialogue about climate justice,” said Dr. Pawlowski. “We’re coming to learn about Jamaica, which experiences many climate change impacts,” said Dr. Pawlowsk, who is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Urban Design and Urban Planning in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation.

The group is scheduled to visit locations such as Windsor Forest, Winnifred Beach, Mooretown. They will also tour the Rio Grande, and explore thematic areas such as Ridge to Reef Conservation, Regenerative Agriculture, Sustainable Tourism, Cultural Heritage Preservation, and Nature-Based Infrastructure.

For The UWI’s Michael Taylor, Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology, the potential for generating new ideas that can result in transformative actions is one of the most exciting aspects of this partnership." We welcome colleagues, staff, and students from Columbia University as they share in this study tour. We also welcome what this visit will afford, namely the interaction between the staff and students from the two universities and the residents and stakeholder interest groups from Portland,” Dean Taylor said.

In fact, one key area of the programme will be the staging of a community workshop, which will be held on March 13 in East Portland.  The study tour will culminate in a public forum on March 14 titled "Knowledge Exchange Forum on Climate Justice" at The UWI, Mona campus.

Meanwhile, Nickie Myers, Director, Alligator Head Foundation (AHF), emphasised the Foundation’s commitment to consistent engagement in core activities, collaborations, and partnerships that support its mandate from the Government to manage the East Portland Special Fisheries Conservation Area.

“This partnership with Columbia University marks the first step of the collaboration, touching on the watershed that impacts the East Portland Special Fisheries Conservation Area. We trust that this is an ongoing relationship that will yield results that can be scaled and replicated, impacting not just East Portland but the wider parish and, in turn, the island and even the region," Myers remarked. And Columbia University’s Dr. Pawlowski could not agree more. “We want to work together to envision a future where there is global cooperation for a just and prosperous future for all people and the planet we share,” Dr. Pawlowski said.

Photo caption: Professor Michael Taylor, Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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Published on 03 Apr, 2024

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