UCHRI Joins Climate Action Grant

UCHRI is joining the Wildland-Urban Interface Network, or WUICAN, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and UC San Diego. WUICAN will enable tribes and community groups to partner with universities and land managers to create knowledge and climate solutions that promote a resilient relationship between society and wild landscapes. WUICAN is funded by a $5.5M grant from the UC Office of the President. The principal investigator is Steven Allison, UC Irvine professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Across the grant, humanists are contributing their expertise in the analysis of complex human interactions, their historical perspective on the hidden resources of the human record, and their skills in deep listening and informed, multi-dimensional story-telling. Humanities faculty, post-docs, students, and senior staff drawn from several UC campuses will contribute to WUICAN’s mission to produce science-based, culturally responsive, community-driven best practices for addressing climate risks.

Julia Lupton (UCHRI Interim Director) and Kelly Anne Brown (Director of Communications and Media Relations, UC Irvine School of Humanities) are taking the lead in the following special projects for WUICAN.

Climate Action Training and Summer Dissertation Fellowship In Summer 2024 UCHRI will bring ten graduate students to Irvine for climate explorations that further their dissertations while also exposing them to community-engaged research and public humanities.

Undergraduate Climate Communications Internships In 2024-25, UCHRI, working with UCI Humanities Communications, will launch an internship program for ten UC undergraduates. The students will be embedded in WUICAN project teams as multimedia storytellers. 

Interfaith Climate Exchange UCHRI is convening regional interfaith leaders to learn how they are helping local communities and youth leaders respond to climate change. The group will co-host a series of community conversations followed by a public Climate Action Festival. 

“Through internships, graduate research assistantships, and intensive summer engagements, our team will capture the research and community conversations at the heart of WUICAN,” explained Julia Lupton. “We will also partner with local religious leaders to better understand how they are using their traditions to help communities and youth leaders respond to climate change with resilience, courage and hope.”

Kelly Anne Brown, who will facilitate aspects of UCI School of Humanities’ involvement, finds WUICAN exciting because “engaging with community-based partners is at the core of the grant. Hopefully this work will transform some of how we do research within the university.” For Brown, WUICAN is also a space to pilot new ways of addressing climate action, including a topic like parenting with climate grief. “There are so many facets to climate adaptation. How can we – in partnerships that span disciplines and regions – support and empower families to address the mental health issues that accompany our changing world?”

Other humanities contributors include James Nisbet (Art History, UC Irvine), whose Living with Wildfire project will contribute to PK-12 curricular development around climate literacy and environmental justice.

UCHRI is hiring a post-doctoral scholar to assist with the effort. Our climate action work supports the 2023-24 Humanities Network theme, Care and Repair.

Meeting of Interfaith Climate Action Exchange, October 2023.