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News Briefs

Shorter items of interest to the campus community.

19 March 2009

International and Area Studies is reorganized

Promising to boost "access and voice" for international and area studies (IAS) on campus and "improve coordination and fundraising" among related entities and programs, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer plan to bring all IAS staff, programs, and centers under the wing of the Institute of International Studies (IIS).

The reorganization which would eliminate the position of IAS dean will take effect July 1, the day after the five-year terms of John Lie, the current dean, and Steven Weber, the IIS' director, are set to expire. The next IIS director, to be recruited from the current Berkeley faculty, will replace the IAS dean as a member of the Provost's Council of Deans.

In their CalMessage last week announcing the reorganization, Birgeneau and Breslauer wrote, "Beyond this change in reporting, no changes are currently anticipated in the teaching, research, administrative, or other programs now located within IAS." They noted, however, that IAS programs "will, of course, be subject to the same budget reductions as all campus units this year."

Law schools at Berkeley, UCLA launch environment blog

Berkeley Law and UCLA's School of Law have launched a new blog, Legal Planet, to provide insight and analysis on climate change, energy, and environmental law and policy. The collaborative blog draws upon the individual research strengths and expertise of the law schools' think tanks and legal scholars.

Contributors write about Supreme Court decisions, new policy developments, major regulatory actions, and state and national legislation that affect water-resource management, toxic-waste disposal, renewable energy, air quality, land use, and more.

The blog also links to new policy ideas generated by the law schools' environmental, energy, and climate-change think tanks.

UC anticipates savings from partnership with state utilities

The UC Regents' grounds and buildings committee has authorized external financing that will allow the University of California to embark on what the Office of the President is calling "a bold energy-efficiency program" over the next three years.

The program in partnership with the state's major utility companies is expected to provide substantial energy and cost savings, reduce UC's greenhouse-gas emissions, and help the system meet its sustainability goals. The partnership will provide an estimated $178 million to help fund energy-efficiency projects for 2009-11; the projects are expected to reduce the university's annual utility costs by $36 million.

Approval by the full Board of Regents was anticipated for Thursday of this week, too late to be reported in this issue of the Berkeleyan.

For the record . . .

An article in our March 4 issue, about the potential adoption in the U.S. of Australia's approach to managing wildfire risk, included a subheadline stating that the existing policy, which supports citizens' efforts to prepare for wildfire and urges them, whenever possible, to stay and defend their homes when fire does threaten, had not functioned well during the recent killer bushfires in that country. An objection received from Professor John Handmer of RMIT University in Melbourne reads in part:

"These latest fires appear to have been well outside the historical experience in many respects, but many people also successfully defended their homes while unfortunately many died during last-minute evacuations. Many left early, and survived. After any major event it is appropriate to review all standard policies and practices, and it is appropriate to examine how the 'Stay or Go' approach performed and if it should be changed in light of the new experiences. This is what is now occurring in Australia why did the policy work in some instances and not others, how well is the policy communicated, how well is it understood, how can it be improved, and what are the alternatives?"