The University of Massachusetts Amherst

SBS Course Profile: New course in Sustainable Community Development explores how to combat climate change

Solar panels at the University of Massachusetts
Friday, December 1, 2017

“Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing us this century. Cities around the world have begun taking action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, identify climate risks, and build resilience to the coming changes,” says Elisabeth Hamin, Professor of Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts.

Hamin teaches and researches climate change with a focus on how communities can adapt to future impacts through planning at the local and regional level. During Spring 2018 she’ll be leading a course in the Sustainable Community Development (SCD) program, SUSTCOMM 297G, where students can explore the challenges and tools for combatting effects of climate change in their communities.

“Students will gain a basic understanding of the science, and a strong understanding of the impacts of climate change,” says Hamin.

“Most importantly, they will gain knowledge about what we can currently do to reduce greenhouse gases and design cities so that floods, heatwaves, and droughts harm fewer people and environments,” she adds.

“We’ll be using the campus as our laboratory, and students will develop proposals for how campus can reduce carbon emissions and better adapt to the region's future climate,” explains Hamin.

The first part of the process will involve each member of the class reading the UMass campus hazard mitigation plan, used in responding to disasters, and writing a chapter on climate projections for the area around Amherst. In the second part of the exercise, students will form teams to propose ideas for improving energy efficiency on campus. At the end of the process, teams in the class will design improvements for the campus that will help adapt to effects of climate change.

The course is open to all majors, and those in the SCD program can fulfill requirements towards their major by taking SUSTCOMM 297G.  

“Our students will leave the course with a sense of direction to tackle the local issues of climate change, and integrate that knowledge in whatever profession they choose,” Hamin notes.

The course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 am to 12:45 pm in 217 Herter Hall.

Register for the course on Spire