Policy Practicum: Catalyzing Nature-Based Coastal Flood Mitigation and Adaptation


Course Code:
LAW 413Y
Law Mandatory P/R/F


Recently, several perilous and costly flood events have raised public awareness of the threats posed by coastal and riverine floods nationally. It is likely that with climate change, the frequency of heavy precipitation will increase in some areas over the 21st century, and that the return interval of flood events will decrease, greatly increasing overall flood risk. Traditionally, flood mitigation has occurred through the use of hard engineering – seawalls, revetments and levees. However, natural habitats and ecosystems also offer significant, and often overlooked and undervalued protections in mitigating or buffering flood hazards. Hazard mitigation plans and conservation project plans very rarely explicitly recognize the protective value of natural habitats, even though this value has been well documented. Moreover, hazard mitigation agents and environmental conservation organizations seldom work together, although recent catastrophic events highlight why it would make sense to do so. FEMA Region IX and The Nature Conservancy in California have recognized this and wish to develop a paradigm for working together to promote nature-based flood mitigation, and have asked for our help. Students in this practicum will: (a) Identify a coastal community with areas of both high flood risk and conservation value; (b) Design a nature-based strategy for risk reduction, which could include managed retreat and/or other mitigation/adaption tactics; (c) Identify available resources/programs/incentives for and barriers to implementation at the local, state and federal levels; (d) Design a process for enabling the community to avail themselves of these resources; and (e) Comment on how laws, regulations and programs could be changed to better facilitate nature-based flood risk reduction. Students will also provide insight into the transferability of this approach beyond the study area. Elements Used in Grading: Class Participation, Attendance, Written Assignments. NOTE: Students may not count more than a combined total of eight units of directed research projects and policy lab practica toward graduation unless the additional counted units are approved in advance by the Petitions Committee. Such approval will be granted only for good cause shown. Even in the case of a successful petition for additional units, a student cannot receive a letter grade for more than eight units of independent research (Policy Lab practicum, Directed Research, Senior Thesis, and/or Research Track). Any units taken in excess of eight will be graded on a mandatory pass basis. For detailed information, see "Directed Research/Policy Labs" in the SLS Student Handbook. CONSENT APPLICATION: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline.

Past Offerings

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