Richard Beahrs (U.C. Berkeley ‘68) is the co-founder of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program at Berkeley. Since its founding in 2001, this initiative has provided three weeks of intensive training on different aspects of sustainable development to 740 participants from 114 countries. He also served on the UN Hunger Task Force as part of the Millennium Development Goals Initiative. Beahrs also was the head of New Business Development at Sports Illustrated and HBO and was the President of two cable networks.
Beahrs is one of the inaugural donors to UC Disaster Resilience Network (DRN).
“I’m proud to have been associated with the world’s greatest public university since 1963, when I entered Berkeley as a Freshman. Nevertheless, as my relationship with Cal has lengthened and deepened, I’ve been increasingly concerned that too much UC research takes place in isolated silos, without an eye to practical applications…The complexity, urgency and volatility of today’s global challenges requires a different approach rather than the traditional top-down hierarchical model of change. System leadership galvanizes and supports large scale action by building alignment, enabling innovation and mobilizing decentralized action toward a shared goal. UC DRN follows the great tradition of structural innovation at the University of California system”
A recent positive example is the new system-wide UC DRN, which is designed to aggregate and leverage the UC system’s extraordinary assets to address the broadest and most complex environmental issues.
In an age of increasingly damaging climate impacts such as wildfires, droughts, and floods, there’s no question of the need for the increased networking and systems thinking of initiatives like the DRN.
During a recent lecture at Berkeley, Lisa Dreier from the Harvard Kennedy School, emphasized the need for this type of “Systems Leadership”.
“The complexity, urgency and volatility of today’s global challenges requires a different approach rather than the traditional top-down hierarchical model of change. System leadership galvanizes and supports large scale action by building alignment, enabling innovation and mobilizing decentralized action toward a shared goal.”
UC DRN follows the great tradition of structural innovation at the University of California system. Founded on the revolutionary Land Grant Educational System, which emphasized teaching, research and public service, this tradition includes the beloved U.S. National Park Service (which emerged from a 1915 Berkeley conference) and the unique ecosystem research on the university’s own Natural Reserve System (which has grown to include 750,000 acres at over 40 different field stations since its 1965 launch).
We can not afford to retreat in the face of our generational challenges, and the University of California has demonstrated time and again that it can arise to the occasion of dealing with some of society’s intractable problems. UC DRN is the latest example of how focused collaboration can do so once again.