The Edward Wenk, Jr. Endowed Lectureship in Technology and Public Policy was made possible by a generous donation from Dr. Edward Wenk, Jr., Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and science policy adviser to the U.S. Congress and three presidents. Dr. Wenk built his career through bridging the gap between public policy and engineering. Through his generous gift, he continues to share his professional legacy with students and the academic community.
2021 Wenk Lecture
Climate-Driven Coastal Hazards: The Interface of Research, Policy and Practice
Featuring Dr. Tracy Kijewski-Correa
There is an increasing need to reduce losses, population displacement, and outmigration due to climate-driven hazards, especially with a record $210 billion in natural hazard damages in 2020 ($95 billion in the U.S. alone). These record-setting impacts are only the latest in a decades-long trend: four of the five costliest hurricanes occurred in the past decade (Harvey, Irma, Maria and Sandy), while Katrina and Harvey were America’s costliest disasters, each exceeding $100 billion in losses.
These events underscore the particularly acute risks to coastal regions threatened by sea level rise and global warming. With 127 million Americans (40% of the U.S. population) living in coastal counties — an increase of nearly 40 million since 1970 — annual losses associated with hurricanes are predicted to outpace the growth of the U.S. economy. While it might be assumed that such evidence of the mounting consequences of coastal living would be sufficient to drive action, there has been limited success in closing the knowledge-action gap among key coastal stakeholders.
Operating at the intersection of engineering and social science, this seminar examines the role academics can play in driving more risk-responsive policy and practice within coastal communities. A sampling of projects engaging stakeholders in different contexts at different scales of influence will demonstrate how incompatibilities in decision making, as well as misalignment of incentives in regulatory and market systems, affects the uptake of the latest engineering guidance. The seminar will more importantly question how such understanding should in turn inform how engineers conceptualize, execute and translate their research.
Tracy Kijewski-Correa is the Leo E. and Patti Ruth Linbeck Collegiate Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. Jointly appointed as an Associate Professor of Global Affairs, she also serves as co-director of the Keough School’s Integration Lab (i-Lab) and faculty fellow at a number of institutes focused on global development and real estate. Her research is dedicated to enhancing the resilience and sustainability of hazard-exposed communities, with an emphasis on conceiving holistic responses to infrastructure vulnerabilities and developing tools that support science-informed decision making by diverse stakeholders. She currently serves as the inaugural director of NSF’s Structural Extreme Event Reconnaissance (StEER) network, coordinating data collection following major hazard events. Her contributions have been recognized by awards from the American Society of Civil Engineering, American Political Science Association, Institution of Civil Engineers, International Association for Wind Engineering, and American Association for Wind Engineering. Kijewski-Correa is formally trained as a Civil Engineer with a specialization in Structural Engineering, earning her Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and PhD from the University of Notre Dame.
Inquiries, contact Karen Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org