Young Scholars 2013
Young Scholars 2013: “Lifeboat Central: A Climate-Disaster Action Plan Coming to a High School near You”
As Hurricane Sandy made dreadfully clear this past November (or Hurricane Irene the year before, or the ice storm of 1998), a storm of that magnitude in a major metropolitan area can quickly make a shambles of “modern” life, from clean water and waste disposal to electricity and modern transportation. Experts warn of more storms or extreme weather in the future, and there are calls for emergency action plans to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Could such a storm, or worse, affect your home town, and how might your community prepare for it? Imagine that national and state officials were overwhelmed with the devastation, and it was months before basic services were restored. How might you and your neighbors survive in such a situation? How might you begin to construct and prepare safe, low-tech “lifeboats?”
This year’s Young Scholars Program will address the following hypothetical scenario:
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has called on municipalities to design Climate Action Disaster Plans that utilize public school buildings and grounds. These plans would ideally describe how a school and its grounds can be used to provide shelter (food, water, waste disposal, for example) for community residents for up to 90 days. The plans would include stockpiling of materials, low tech solutions for water treatment, waste mitigation, farming, heating or cooling, and medicine; and would address even basic rules of ethics and distributive justice. The plans would include an estimated budget for implementation.
Working with three Clarkson Professors specializing in Engineering, Social Network Theory, and Ethics and Sustainability, students will utilize Potsdam Central School as a prototype school and work to develop an action plan for the village of Potsdam. At the conclusion of the weeklong program, students will deliver a professional presentation to school administrators, local government officials, and other professionals outlining their Climate-Disaster Action Plan.
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