VCPC Student Examines Vulnerability of South East Newport News

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VCPC Student Examines Vulnerability of South East Newport News

By Sydney MaHan, Student Corresponent

Sarah Edwards.

Sarah Edwards.

Sarah Edwards first heard of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC) when looking at potential law schools. The Center was one of main factors that influenced her decision to attend William & Mary.

“The more I read about this [center], the more I knew that William & Mary was the perfect fit for me,” says Edwards.

As a VCPC student this semester, Edwards created a model ordinance that would incorporate social vulnerability factors. The project was at the request of the southeast community of Newport News.

Social vulnerability refers to the idea that some communities and individuals may be less able to cope with, respond to, and recover from disasters due to social challenges, for example language barriers, vehicle availability, and healthcare access.

Edwards first become interested in environmental issues due to an environmental ethics class she took as an undergraduate. She says she hopes the Center would be the first step in obtaining an environmentally focused career.

“I think this [Center] will be the perfect way to get a head start to reach that goal,” says Edwards.

Having completed her work with the southeast community, Edwards has drafted a white paper detailing a decision making process that she hopes will assist the community in creating a plan that focuses on the needs of the socially vulnerable. In the paper, Edwards advocates for a committee that will recommend an adaptation strategy, a plan for education and outreach, as well as a method of review in the form of a community advocate committee. The model ordinance that was originally requested will be a standalone document to supplement the paper.

Edwards completed her undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina with a degree in English Literature. She is from Charleston and is in her second year at William & Mary Law School, where she has taken classes on environmental law, and plans to continue her studies on natural resource law, and climate change. This past summer she interned with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.

An extension partner of Virginia Sea Grant, VCPC at William & Mary Law School provides policy and legal analysis to its partners on coastal resource and community issues in its mission to educate and train the future lawyers and leaders of tomorrow