John Randolph, director of Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, is helping lead a multi-university, student-based study on reducing the impact of land development on the James River and adjoining streams. This first-of-its-kind collaboration also includes faculty and students from the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The James River is a major natural feature in an area of Virginia that attracts new residents and businesses each year. To protect the river as new housing and commercial developments are constructed, the James River Association has organized this collaborative study to launch Building a Cleaner James River. The project will initiate a dialogue among local governments, universities, conservation organizations and developers to reduce water pollution impacts by encouraging environmentally friendly development practices and codes.

Each of the three universities has implemented a class for the spring semester to analyze the codes, practices and policies of 31 counties within the James River Basin. Students are working with professors with expertise in watershed management or land use planning to analyze each locality. Eighteen Virginia Tech students in environmental policy and planning, biological systems engineering, agricultural and applied economics, environmental science, fisheries, and geography are involved in the class project. Professors Darrell Bosch and Jim Pease from agricultural and applied economics, Mary Leigh Wolfe from biological systems engineering, and Tamim Younos from the Water Center are also participating in the study. The combined results from the three universities will be shared at a watershed-wide symposium that will take place at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel on Friday, April 21. Local, state and federal government officials, developers and the general public will be invited to participate in the event.

“This is the first time that our three universities have collaborated on a shared class project. We are very excited about this unique partnership and the benefits it will provide not only to students, but also to Virginia’s localities and the James River,” said Randolph.

Funding for this project comes from the Keith Campbell Fund for the Environment and the Virginia Coastal Zone program.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is one of the largest of its type in the nation. The college is composed of two schools and the departments of landscape architecture, building construction, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 22 degrees programs taught by 160 faculty members.

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