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At UC Irvine, we understand that transformations in physical infrastructure alone will not suffice to achieve the University of California’s climate and sustainability goals. How we build the human infrastructure to get us there is also key. UCI Community Resilience brings together teams of faculty, students, staff, and community collaborators to address environmental, health, and social justice challenges by fostering community-driven and equity-focused solutions. These projects are driven by teams that come together for meaningful exchange, education, research, and action for social transformation. We work from a shared understanding that the problems of climate change, racism and all social injustice, economic inequality, and our challenged democracy are connected, and so are the solutions.
“Community resilience” describes our efforts to create the human infrastructure through which climate and sustainability solutions foster and reflect social cohesion, inclusion, and leadership of people from underrepresented communities–communities that are often both more vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate and closer to the sources of the solutions we need. These areas typically include low-income communities, communities of color, Indigenous communities, immigrants, and elderly populations.
Building on foundations established by the UCI Sustainability Initiative (2013-2016), this work creates leadership opportunities for UC faculty, staff, students and community collaborators who historically have been excluded from the sustainability transformation. It equips our students, many of whom are also from communities facing environmental and climate justice challenges, to analyze and address root causes of sustainability and climate crises both on campus and back home. At its best, this work also builds trust between UC Irvine and regional and national partners, a key to lasting and reciprocal relationships for sustainability scholarship over time.