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Q&A: LBJ Students Map Africa's Vulnerability to Climate Change and Study South African Governance Challenges in Cape Town

Foreign Affairs Magazine

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joshua BusbyLBJ School Assistant Professor Josh Busby on the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law's program on Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) and his year-long Policy Research Project (PRP) with students on climate change and security in Africa

What was the innovative course you taught?

This year I taught a year-long Policy Research Project (PRP) on climate change and security in Africa as part of a five-year research project being carried out by the Strauss Center's program on Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS), funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

What were the goals of the course?

I wanted students to have the experience of doing important work, to learn about a critical issue facing U.S. national security and to attain valuable skills for their future global policy careers.

What skills did they learn?

Students spent four months learning geographic information systems (GIS), a mapping software that displays data visually. Not only did they read, analyze, and discuss the latest research on links between climate change and security, but the students developed their own methods to map the areas in Africa most vulnerable to natural disasters, governance failures, and related problems.

 

Were the students able to communicate directly with policymakers?

 

 Several students attended a conference of high-level policymakers in Washington. All of them presented their work to visiting officials from the Department of Defense, the National Intelligence Council, as well as former government officials on faculty at LBJ. Their reports are now being published as working papers by the Strauss Center. In 2010-2011, another cohort of students will track and analyze the challenges of delivering international aid for climate change adaptation in Africa.

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