The Global School WPI members of CCAN, a NOAA Climate Adaptation Partnership (back row: Professors Seth Tuler and John-Michael Davis; front row left to right: Professors Scott Jiusto, Mimi Sheller, Sarah Strauss and Fulbright Scholar and master’s student in Community Climate Adaptation Solange Uwera

Caribbean - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces new award to The Global School for the Caribbean Climate Adaptation Network

The Global School is proud to be part of the Caribbean Climate Adaptation Network (CCAN), which was initially awarded $6 million in federal funding in 2022. CCAN, a NOAA Climate Adaptation Partnership (CAP) seeks to address climate change issues by bringing together a multidisciplinary team of universities, agencies, and non-governmental organizations serving the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John).

Today, NOAA announced it will provide a new award of nearly $500,000 to WPI for the related project “Improving Engagement Methods for Coastal Resilience and Reducing Climate Risk: Bridging Learning Networks From the Urban Northeast (CCRUN) to the US Caribbean (CCAN)” (Principal Investigator: Dr. Mimi Sheller). This award will support a partnership between CCAN and the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN), with partners at Drexel University, University of the Virgin Islands, and Foundation for Puerto Rico. This collaboration with long-established NOAA CAP/Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) program CCRUN will allow for important knowledge transfer and collaborative research concerned with improving community engagement methods for coastal resilience and climate risk reduction.

One goal of the new project is to improve alignment and coordination on climate risk and response between scientists, communities, and emergency management agencies. The project will collaborate with residents, non-profits, and government leaders to co-design flood resilience plans in four coastal communities (two in Puerto Rico, two in the United States Virgin Islands)

Five WPI researchers who are involved in the CCAN project visited Puerto Rico in the Spring of 2023 to initiate our work there: Dean of The Global School Mimi Sheller, Professor Sarah Strauss, Associate Professor Seth Tuler, Assistant Professor of Teaching John-Michael Davis, and Professor Emeritus Scott Jiusto. The project also involved IQP teams at the Puerto Rico Project Center, graduate students in the Master’s in Community Climate Adaptation program, and a new Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Sarah Molinari, who joined WPI’S Global School in August 2023. The new NOAA award will fund additional WPI master’s students to conduct fieldwork with partners at University of the Virgin Islands in Spring 2024.

CCAN aims to form a regional knowledge-action network of researchers and stakeholders to evaluate needs, provide technical-scientific expertise, facilitate communication, and build cross-regional connections and capacity in the US Caribbean. As an important step in creating a network that promotes the development of public policy that goes toward creating more resilient communities in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, CCAN has also begun the process to join the United Nations Local2030 Islands Network. The Local2030 Islands Network is a collaboration of leaders and experts from island nations, states, and communities that seeks to take on the climate crisis by advancing local, culturally informed solutions.

CCAN Principal Investigator Pablo Mendez Lazaro (University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Medical Sciences Campus) has met with various partners including NOAA Pacific RISA and Local2030 co-chair, Kate Brown, Sea Grant Puerto Rico, Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, the United Nations Association of the USA, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico, and other stakeholders from the government, non-profit organizations, and community-based organizations. As a result, CCAN is currently working on the development of internship programs, webinars, and other activities aimed at expanding knowledge and promoting its exchange between partners at all levels.

WPI Global School faculty and students are key participants in these activities, building our reputation in the new field of Climate Change Adaptation, as we continue to develop our innovative graduate programs and research enterprise.

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