Flooding will be the focus of Rice U.’s inaugural Houston-Centered Policy Challenge Feb. 22


Katharine Shilcutt

Flooding will be the focus of Rice U.’s inaugural Houston-Centered Policy Challenge Feb. 22

HOUSTON — (Feb. 19, 2018) — Flooding in Meyerland will be the focus of Rice University’s inaugural Houston-Centered Policy (HCP) Challenge, in which teams of students submit policy proposals designed for the real-time challenges faced by Houston communities. Following weeks of workshops and panels with community leaders and Rice professors, these proposals will be judged by a panel of experts Thursday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. in the university’s Fondren Library, Kyle Morrow Room, 6100 Main St.

Rice students help out in a flooded Houston neighborhood post-Harvey. (Photo by Brandon Martin)

Rice students help out in a flooded Houston neighborhood post-Harvey. (Photo by Brandon Martin)

Judging this year’s HCP Challenge will be Ellen Cohen, mayor pro tem and city council District C representative; Lee Wunsch, past president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston; David Robinson, city council at-large 2 representative; Bill Fulton, director of Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research; and “flood czar” Stephen Costello, the city of Houston’s chief resilience officer.

The HCP brings Rice students into conversation with neighborhoods and local government working to address issues such as the repeated inundation of Meyerland and its surrounding areas in the last few years — most recently and notably during Hurricane Harvey, when 1,900 out of the neighborhood’s 2,300 homes were flooded.

Students on this year’s HCP teams participated in post-Harvey cleanup efforts in Meyerland. “This challenge gives students an opportunity to say, ‘Okay, we’re past the muck; what’s next? What are the immediate needs and what are some of the long-term challenges that people are thinking about and need to deal with?’” said Libby Vann, director of programs and partnerships for Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership, which co-hosts the event.

Engaging Houston is one of the goals of Rice’s Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade.

At the Feb. 22 competition, seven interdisciplinary teams will present their proposed solutions to student-written policy prompts that include questions about how to create a sense of community for displaced Meyerland residents, how to empower individual homeowners in their buyout decisions and what Meyerland might look like in 20 years.

The winning team will receive a small cash prize, but the real reward is getting a behind-the-scenes look at how public policy is created, meeting the stakeholders involved in that process and better understanding the delicate balancing act that is policy work.

“There are so many students interested in making active, positive contributions to what’s happening in Houston,” Vann said. “If they’re hooked, I hope we see more of them doing this work either in informal policymaking capacities or as advocates or in other roles professionally or just as part of their lives moving forward.”

The HCP Challenge is also hosted in collaboration with the Baker Institute for Public Policy Student Forum and Rice’s chapter of Design for America, with funding provided by the Office of the President through Rice’s Houston Engagement and Recovery Effort fund. For more information about the challenge, visit ccl.rice.edu.


This news release can be found online at https://news.rice.edu.

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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,970 undergraduates and 2,934 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.