“We can talk about heat waves in very abstract terms, but it’s almost irrelevant if you don’t bring it to bear on local issues and local concerns,” Lee said.
Students in the capstone course, co-taught by Lee and Brad Gentry
, Associate Dean for Professional Practice, assessed both the biophysical threats and social impacts of climate change in New Haven, and made policy recommendations to city planners and administrators.
“The essence of a professional research school is doing great research and then figuring out how to connect it to management of whatever resources people are thinking about,” Gentry said.
All Masters of Environmental Management (M.E.M.) candidates are required to complete a capstone course or project focused on applied problem solving. But “Cities in Hot Water” uniquely challenged students to apply their knowledge to local problems.
&ES has a long history of collaborating with the City of New Haven. For a quarter of a century, the F&ES-based Urban Resources Initiative
[URI] has partnered with the city and community groups to plant trees and restore abandoned land. Last year, Colleen Murphy-Dunning
, director of URI, initiated several meetings to determine the ways F&ES could best support city staff. In the end, they agreed that students could contribute to the development of the city’s new Hazard Mitigation Plan.
“Colleen, with her knowledge of the city, and acute attention, helped to ensure that this wasn’t just Yale people using the city as a place for experimentation, but rather a true partnership where both sides learn from each other in ways that are valuable to both sides,” Gentry said.