Camarillo, Calif., May 4, 2011 – CSU Channel Islands (CI) students who were members of Professor Chris Williamson’s advance course in land use planning recently won an award from the American Planning Association (APA) for their work in assessing Climate Change Action Plans for the City of Oxnard, beating out many of the larger universities in the Central Coast Region.

Williamson, an adjunct faculty member in CI’s Environmental Science & Resource Management (ESRM) program and Principal Planner for the City of Oxnard Planning Division, had suggested the course to Dr. Donald Rodriguez, Associate Professor and Chair of the ESRM program.  Rodriguez enthusiastically endorsed the suggestion and the class was offered in fall 2010.

Williamson explained that the impetus for this program had come in 2009 from California Attorney General Jerry Brown who had strongly encouraged districts to develop their own Climate Action Plans (CAP).  Williamson’s students had an opportunity to work on this project for the City of Oxnard.

The students first chose 50 existing plans both in the United States and Europe and analyzed them as to content and focus.  They also studied the general history of climate change.  After the initial stage, they created a spread sheet of the 50 plans, coming up with a summary of what topics were becoming the norm for inclusion in a climate action plan, such as sea level rise and renewable energy, to name a few.  This assessment of Climate Action Plans was presented to Oxnard city staff of various departments and subsequently won the APA Award.

Williamson explained that the whole area of climate change as a professional field was exploding and that academics had to stay on the cutting edge of this rapidly developing field.  “This is a new academic discipline and students in this geographical area are fortunate to have many of the current issues under discussion right here in miniature; agriculture, sea coast, mountains, water rights and endangered species habitats.”  He mentioned that climate change planning was an emerging profession and represented a major government effort around the world.

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