The Fall 2023 quarter saw the very first offering of the undergraduate class SUSTAIN 101D: Sustainable Innovation for Disaster Resilience taught by Professor Khalid Osman.
As a course centered on community engagement, students formed teams and were paired with community organizations working in resilience and climate adaptation in the Bay Area. The organizations that participated this year were Climate Resilient Communities (CRC), North Fair Oaks Community Association (NFOCA), Rise South City, and Thrive Alliance. Students were tasked with understanding the pain points that community partners and the communities they serve face with regards to climate disaster, adaptation, and resilience. They were then tasked with generating solutions to the specific problems they identified. Students concluded by rating their different ideas and developing a product brief to pitch.
Class time was divided into three main components. First, each student was responsible for leading a “disaster chat” of their choice at the beginning of each lecture. This inspired thoughtful discussion and helped the group expand its collective knowledge of different global disaster scenarios and the state of support services. Second, the lectures taught the material that was needed to help students hone their ability to identify problems, as well as their ability to work to develop solutions. Third, in-class activities included lively discussions on several topics, including: the comparison of flooding in the Democratic Republic of Congo to that of the Bay Area; the types of programs that could support EMS providers before and after disasters; small island nations' resilience to climate-induced disasters; and how the reorganization of FEMA could modernize an aging, patchwork disaster response system in a way that no other system has. These components helped students holistically examine and evaluate their ideas. The teaching team collected copious feedback from students to improve the class for future years.