Professor Rachel Willis is a Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar working on port planning for climate change.
A labor economist who has focused on access to work in the global economy in the past, her current research on global freight transportation planning for climate change in port cities is a result of recent fellowships at the Institute for Emerging Issues, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and the Global Research Institute. Sea-level rise, drought, rising global temperatures and increased storm severity threaten port communities, influence migration, alter global foodsheds and impact future access to work through complex water connections related to infrastructure. The critical need for planning and action to meet the challenges of building resilient communities at local and global levels is central to her Water Over the Bridge project. Travel grants from the Global Education Center to European agencies, conferences, education and water sites along with her 2017 Thorp travel to learn more about how planning and education in the Netherlands and the UK relate to North Carolina’s coastal flooding protection, are leading to the development of two new permanent courses on “Rising Waters” and “Global Impacts on American Waters.”