Community Resilience

Regional Climate Resilience Collaboration

At UCI, 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. “Community resilience” describes our efforts to create human infrastructure through which climate and sustainability solutions foster and reflect social cohesion and inclusion of diverse voices in our university community and beyond.

We seek to understand, engage, and lift up the interests, contributions, and leadership of underrepresented communities on our campus and in communities in our region that are more vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate–typically low-income communities, people of color, indigenous communities, immigrants, and elderly populations. These efforts take both scientific knowledge to measure disparate impacts and community knowledge to hear truth on the ground.

Building on foundations established by the Sustainability Initiative, this work creates leadership opportunities for UC faculty, staff, and students who historically have been excluded from the sustainability transformation. It equips our campus’s underrepresented students, many of whom are also from impacted communities, 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 UCI and regional partners, a key to lasting and reciprocal relationships for sustainability scholarship over time.

The community resilience team in the UCI Office of Sustainability collaborates with campus and community partners in two project areas:

The Center for Black Cultures, Resources & Research; the Cross-Cultural Center; the Global Sustainability Resource Center; and the Student Housing Sustainability Program are collaborating to build community resilience at UCI. The Community Resilience Co-lab is an experimental co-curricular education response to the enduring and intersecting crises of environmental, racial, and social injustice. This nexus lies at the heart of contemporary crises such as the Flint, Michigan, drinking water emergency; the Standing Rock Sioux mobilization for water protection; the Movement for Black Lives; the global migration crisis; and the current Presidential Administration’s unconventional approaches to environmental protection and social issues.

Our collaboration asks: “What does it take to move from a world rooted in violence, extraction, and domination to a world rooted in regeneration, resilience, and interdependence?” The Community Resilience Co-lab begins to answer this question first by building human infrastructure here at UCI to integrate campus networks and resources at this intersection. By deepening and strengthening the intellectual and community relationships among students, staff, and faculty who participate in these networks, we aim to create fertile ground for communal care and resilience.

Over time, the Community Resilience Co-lab seeks to advance a coalition that mobilizes student capacity towards engagement, inspires exchange among a diverse cohort of activists and healers, lifts up cultural relationships to the earth, and educates at the intersections of environmental, racial, and social justice issues. Our invitation for collaboration extends broadly to student leaders, staff, faculty, and community members who are engaged in work for racial and social equity and/or sustainability.

To get involved, please complete the interest form here.
UCI Cross-Cultural Center logoUCI Student Housing Sustainability logoUCI Global Sustainability Resource Center logo

Fellowship Opportunity

The Co-lab is hiring two UCI students to serve as Community Resilience Fellows. The Fellows will work together and with faculty, staff, and students affiliated with the Center for Black Cultures, Resources, and Research;  the Cross-Cultural Center; and the Global Sustainability Resource Center to develop and carry out Community Resilience Co-lab activities. Activities include catalyzing a rich campus conversation, fostering alignment, and building campus momentum to address actively the root causes of environmental, racial, and social injustice. The Fellows will support co-lab participants in designing a range of actions that build community resilience, including mobilizing student capacity to reclaim and create systems and cultures of collective action that lift up cultural relationships to the earth.

This fellowship is a hands-on, experiential learning opportunity to develop and practice a range of skills essential to building community resilience in the context of our campus’ climate and sustainability goals. The fellowships are funded through the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative and administered through the UCI Global Sustainability Resource Center. One fellow will be placed at the Cross-Cultural Center and one fellow will be placed at the Center for Black Cultures, Resources, and Research. The Community Resilience Fellows will join a cohort of fellows from across UC as part of the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which is improving the university’s energy efficiency, developing new sources of renewable energy and enacting a range of related strategies to cut carbon emissions with broad participation from faculty, staff, and students.

Click here for more details and to apply for this fellowship.

The UCI Regional Resilience Project (RRP) is an exploratory research and community engagement project focused on climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and action from the deserts of Riverside County to the coast of Orange County, California. While climate change is a global problem, its effects are—and will continue to be—felt locally. Increasingly, municipalities are looking regionally for support, knowledge sharing, and partnership to address local climate challenges. Regional knowledge hubs; like the University of California, Irvine; can play an important convening, coordination, and scientific role in this work. The UCI Regional Resilience Project seeks to better understand the matrix of existing activities and budding opportunities to enhance climate preparedness in Orange and Riverside Counties and their borderlands. Kimberly Serrano leads the RPP with support from UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellow Javier Garay.

The RRP also includes a collaboration with Orange County Environmental Justice (OCEJ), a grassroots organization created in 2016, to design a set of activities that engage Orange County residents beyond the disadvantaged communities who are at the center of the organization’s work. Together, we are creating a network of support for OCEJ’s future activities, identifying research and policy allies, assessing existing sustainability and climate networks in Orange County, and documenting the multiple worlds that exist in this relatively small geographic area. With the guiding metaphor of bridge-building, we are locating existing connections across differences in our region in order to envision better relationships. Over time, these activities will illuminate the ways we can heal the racial and class divides between communities ready for climate justice and those just beginning climate-focused work. Project personnel include OCEJ Project Director Yenni Diaz, UCI Sustainability’s Abby Reyes, Professor Michael Montoya, and GSRC Co-Manager Adonia Lugo. Dr. Montoya and Dr. Lugo are also members of OCEJ’s advisory board.

Join the Conversation

The UCI Regional Resilience Project brings together people interested in exploring the roles UC Irvine could play in convening or supporting a regional climate resilience collaborative. A regional climate resilience collaborative is a group of diverse public, private, and/or non-profit entities representing a region and committed to preparing that region for the emerging impacts of climate change (e.g., sea level rise, extreme storm events, food scarcity, wildfires, heat waves, and droughts).

Fill out the interest form here to get involved and to receive updates about regional climate resilience collaboration.


UC Irvine staff joined colleagues
at the California Adaptation
Forum in September 2016
for a workshop on “Engaging
Communities in Effective
Problem-Solving,” led by
Resilient Communities Initiative
(RCI) coalition members Paloma
Pavel, Carl Anthony,
Ms. Margaret Gordon, and
Kirsten Andrews-Schwind.

GSRC student Yoselin Gutierrez
interned last summer with the
Santa Ana Building Healthy
Communities project’s Food
Justice Workgroup in support
of their goal of realizing systemic
changes that provide accessible,
healthy food for the residents
of Santa Ana regardless of
socioeconomic status through
creation of increased community
urban agricultural opportunities
and policy change.