Resilience and Sustainability Collaboratory

Creating sustainable futures

RSC Highlights

The Resilience and Sustainability Collaboratory (RSC) is a think and do tank that leverages the collective expertise of corporate leaders, Emory faculty and staff, government, and community organizations to plug into actionable projects that generate innovative solutions to sustainability and resilience challenges impacting our global society. Check out the RSC digital story.

The goal of the RSC is to create a new paradigm for operations, establishing a collaborative able to identify and implement cutting-edge climate solutions and social interventions that promote healthy and thriving communities across our City and region.

In 10 years, the worst impacts of climate change could be irreversible. The South is home to 97 of the 100 U.S. counties expected to be hit the hardest by the effects of climate change.

RSC Benefits

The RSC serves as a hub through which partners can co-create new solutions and practices that integrate the relevant environmental, social, and economic ideas to address perseverative issues, especially in disadvantaged communities. RSC projects first tested locally can be scaled to solve issues at the organizational, national, and global levels. This model builds deeper degrees of resilience and enables us to drive innovation without fear of failure.

By focusing our efforts on resilience and regenerative actionable initiatives, we intend to prepare our campus, community, and region for the fast-approaching changes to our current socio-ecological systems. RSC provides the critically needed space for achieving novel and innovative solutions for thriving local communities, ensuring Emory’s operations do not face the business and utility disruptions that will present increasing risks to the institution over time, and providing a model for developing more global solutions.

How It Works

  • Resilience Thinking Principles: The Stockholm Resilience Centre has laid out seven principles to help put resilience concepts into practice. These will guide how we operate and select projects.

  • Faculty Advisors from over 20 University graduate and professional schools and College departments work together with corporate, government, and community groups to generate innovative solutions and implement actionable projects.

  • RSC projects are first tested locally, generating on-the-ground demonstrations of practical resilience-based solutions that are translatable to communities across the globe.
  • Building on existing and future projects related to sustainability and regenerative resilience at Emory, the RSC extends learning to community organizers, corporate partners, political leaders, and other national and local partners to generate dialogue and develop actionable solutions.
  • The RSC will occupy space in the heart of Downtown Atlanta. The space will include medical clinics, a family resilience center, shared laboratory space, flexible offices for visiting scholars, a theater and gallery, and a food pharmacy providing whole healthy foods.
  • The RSC brings together the strengths of Emory Operations, Sustainability, and Campus Planning to create more ties to the City of Atlanta and regional governmental entities, as envisioned in the One Emory Strategic Plan.
  • The RSC is funded through strategic corporate engagement, providing seed funding as well as ongoing operational funding for the Collaboratory.

Current RSC Projects

The RSC unites best-in-class leaders across multiple disciplines and prioritizes applied research projects that engage the local community and make a different in a measurable and mutually beneficial manner.

The RSC Clinic

Climate change has been called the greatest global health challenge and opportunity of the 21st century. Health-related consequences of climate change can be lifelong and irreversible, and children are projected to bear 88 percent of the burden of those consequences.

Children in low-income communities are disproportionately affected. Through the RSC Clinic, we will:

  • Strengthen community engagement with the RSC by ensuring a service component that addresses the needs of the community
  • Provide a setting to assess and address climate-related health stressors and environmental determinants of health
  • Create, model, and share best practices in the provision of green, disaster-prepared health care
  • Train future pediatricians and health professionals to provide greener health care

Our clinical care will improve the resilience of families in our community and of Georgia’s health system while making Emory a leader in the biggest health opportunity of our time.

Soil Testing and Community-Engaged Remediation in West Atlanta

Exposure to heavy metals and metalloids (HMM) can cause serious health consequences and even death. Soil contaminated with HMMs is a major public health concern that has been linked to elevated levels of lead in children’s blood and adverse learning and behavioral outcomes. We partnered with Historic Westside Gardens Atlanta Inc., Environmental Protection Agency Region 4, and the Georgia Department of Public Health to test soil in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood for HMM contaminants.

Our findings:

  • Slag dumps and high levels of HMM in soil
  • Limited community awareness of the risks of contaminated soil and remediation sources
  • Limited information on the effects of exposure
  • Limited testing of soil and children’s blood lead levels.

As a result of our study, the EPA began investigation in the West Atlanta neighborhood and began excavating the soil in early 2020. A systematic approach to testing and community-engaged remediation is essential for creating a more equitable and healthy society.

The Working Farms Fund

Many small to mid-sized farms surrounding metro areas are at risk of being lost to development. Through the Conservation Fund, the Working Farms Fund acquires farmland within 100 miles of Atlanta and places conservation easements on the land to permanently protect it from development and harmful practices. The fund then leases the land to farmers with a 5- to 10-year path to ownership.

To support the Working Farms Fund, Emory University made a commitment to purchase food grown by these farmers. Our partnership provides the stability farmers need to produce a resilient local food supply, and affords Emory faculty and students the opportunity to conduct research on Working Farms Fund farms.