Thompson Rivers University

BC’s research response to a global climate crisis

  Posted on: February 13, 2019


KAMLOOPS–BC’s three Interior universities have teamed up to help communities tackle natural disasters head-on.

“Floods and wild fires are becoming all too common and devastating communities not only in the Interior but across the globe. Through research, universities can help find solutions for the future,” said Dr. Brett Fairbairn, President and Vice-Chancellor, Thompson Rivers University (TRU).

TRU, along with UBC Okanagan and the University of Northern BC have offered

to fund research projects designed to address immediate challenges posed by climate change. This initiative is the result of a formal partnership between the universities—the Interior Universities Research Coalition (IURC)—formed in 2017.

This initiative responds to a pressing need in the province, as outlined in the 2018 independent report commissioned by the provincial government, Addressing the New Normal: 21stCentury Disaster Management in British Columbia. The report called for an increase in applied research in ecology, fire science, social science and economics, as it relates to natural disaster management. 

“We see this as just the start,” said Dr. Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies. “We have set up ‘pump priming’ grants designed to fund projects in the early stages of development, to facilitate the collection of pilot data and the building of collaborative research teams. We are driven to respond to the problems that our communities face. That’s what action-based research really is. It means we get out there, and we change the way things are done, for the better.”

“We are living on the front lines of flood and fire events, and our researchers are well-positioned to do the research that our region needs for better responding to, preparing for, and recovering from natural disasters,” said Janice Larson, Director of the Tri-University Partnership Office.

The IURC and its researchers, who live and work within flood and fire danger zones, are acutely aware of these new realities, and are particularly invested in working with their communities, their regional colleagues, and global experts to help answer the questions that this ‘new normal’ presents.

Proposals for the IURC Disaster PR3 (Prevention, Response, Recovery, Resilience) Collaborative Grants initiative have been received, and the research teams will be mobilized this spring.

The IRUC believes the research undertaken will not only benefit BC, but also potentially support communities around the world as they face similar climate-related challenges.


Dr. Will Garrett-Petts
Associate Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies
Thompson Rivers University
250-828-5410 |



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