School launches Climate and Urban Sustainability Program


CUSP’s goal: solving environmental challenges

The School of Social Ecology has launched its Climate and Urban Sustainability Program (CUSP) to mobilize the extensive skills, knowledge, experience and insights available across the UCI campus to help solve the climate and environmental challenges facing urban areas in California and beyond.

“We want to create conditions for sustainable urban development and human flourishing by furthering understanding, hastening effective communication and helping to solve the complex environmental challenges of the 21st century — climate change, pollution, natural resource degradation and depletion, and natural habitat loss,” says Dean Jon Gould.

“We aspire to bring our skills as researchers, educators and communicators to support the growing demand for a fair, efficient and visionary transition to higher levels of resilience and sustainability in our region and beyond,” says Richard Matthew, CUSP director. “We are facing considerable challenges in Southern California — poor air quality as wildfires rage, extensive beach loss, persistent drought, devastating heat waves. We are vulnerable to rare but highly destructive flood events.The infrastructure in place to manage natural hazards, protect habitat and provide us with reliable access to water and energy is rapidly aging. The implications for our economy, for our health, and for the legacy we leave the next generation are enormous and alarming. And, the burdens of environmental stresses and shocks are disproportionately being borne by the most vulnerable people in our community. We have the capacity and the opportunity to protect our environment and develop sustainably, to deepen resilience and to promote equity, in ways that can serve as a model for many similar regions of the world.”

To bring knowledge and action together, Matthew adds, “we will partner with various levels of governance, community organizations, non-governmental friends of the environment, and external funders committed to sustainability, resource protection, environmental justice, and education.”

CUSP is made up of faculty members from the Department of Urban Planning and Public Policy and expects participation to expand across the School and campus. Partners include UCI’s Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation, Water UCI and the Livable Cities Lab.

CUSP researchers study myriad subjects from water safety to flood risk, community policing, gentrification and climate change. A few projects include:

For more information, visit the CUSP website.

Mimi Ko Cruz
Director of Communications