The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) Summer Academy 2022 welcomed undergraduate students from all over the organization’s four-state region of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana for five days of climate adaptation lectures, activities, and community exploration! The all-expenses-paid trip welcomed a total of 18 students to the University of Oklahoma from June 6th through the 10th. Students were given the opportunity to hear from a wide array of experts in the climate adaptation field, including professors and business professionals. The purpose of the Summer Academy was to introduce students to the vast opportunities that fall under the umbrella of climate adaptation. From climate models to Indigenous knowledge, the five days encompassed various branches of study that students could explore in their future careers and research endeavors.
Each day covered a new topic with exciting events in between:
Monday’s theme was Weather, Climate, and Hazards– which featured lectures from SCIPP Climate Assessment Specialist Darrian Bertrand, Climate Research Director Vincent Brown, Deputy Director Mark Shafer, and Principal Investigator Barry Keim. From the South-Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (SC-CASC), Research Scientist Adrienne Wootten introduced climate models and downscaling.
The day served as a basic overview of climate, climate change, and climate adaptation, as well as a beginning foundation of knowledge for the week. The students were also introduced to a week-long project whereby the focus was to create a climate adaptation and resiliency profile for a community of their choosing (in the SCIPP region).
Tuesday then focused on Social Factors– with Drs. Simone Domingue and Lauren Mullenbach lecturing on how equity and environmental justice impact climate adaptation and communities. Since every community has different climate adaptation needs based on current trends and historical under or over-funding, this topic was especially important as students created their community profiles. SC-CASC Tribal Liaisons April Taylor and Yvette Wiley also discussed traditional Indigenous knowledge and climate adaptation in tribal nations. This topic is especially pertinent in Oklahoma, where tribal communities are numerous across the state. The day ended with exploring a Mesonet measuring station, and a tour of the National Weather Center led by OK-First Outreach Program Coordinator, Andrea Melvin. This provided students with a closer look at the Meteorological aspect of climate adaptation.
Wednesday’s topic was Administrative Governance (and field trip day)! The session began with SCIPP Co-Principal Investigator, Aimee Franklin, lecturing on fiscal policy and the government’s role within research. Dr. Franklin’s talk also focused on grant management, a crucial component of SCIPP’s overall operation. SCIPP Program Manager, Caylah Cruickshank, further expounded on this topic with her own professional experience in working with governments. This included how to report the effective use of grant money, working on deadlines, and the various tasks of keeping a research organization running. For the second half of the day, students took a field trip to downtown Oklahoma City to meet with Program Planner T.O. Bowman from the OKC Office of Sustainability. Mr. Bowman spoke on current and past city projects, giving students a view into city planning and working with city governments to achieve climate adaptation initiatives. The day ended with exploring Oklahoma City’s more recent sustainability efforts, Scissortail Park and the Myriad Gardens, both large green spaces in the downtown area of OKC.
Thursday’s content centered around Planning and Development. Kim Jenson and Moriah Stanford from the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security began the day with a presentation on hazard mitigation techniques. SCIPP Director, Rachel Riley, then spoke on methods SCIPP uses to engage with stakeholders and connect with communities. The day also included a round-table discussion led by SCIPP Climate Communications Assistant, Evan Chladny, on past experiences, how everyone became interested in climate adaptation, and career prospects.
On the final day, Adaptation International Founder and Director, Sascha Petersen, presented on climate adaptation careers in the private sector. Mr. Petersen also encouraged the students to think about potential challenges and opportunities when considering a career in climate adaptation. To conclude the Summer Academy, students shared the results of their community profiles with the group. They also discussed the most beneficial or interesting thing they learned from the week.
SCIPP would like to thank all the undergraduates for their participation as they learned more about climate adaptation, and the many avenues of study within the field. We wish them best of luck as they continue to grow as students and young professionals!