Watch the 2020 Spring Break Field Course video

This multi-disciplinary field-course introduced students to the challenges that communities face following disasters to recovery effectively and achieve long-term resilience. Florida communities need to adapt to the changing environment and to end the disaster/rebuild cycle through the development of effective community design, public policy, and applied science. The course, in partnership with the Florida Resilient Cities project, connected a range of disciplines through collaborative research and field-based exploration in the City of Port St. Joe where the ravages of Hurricane Michael are still being felt. Lectures, readings, and research prepared students for a one-week intensive spring break workshop in the City during spring 2020.

In the first part of the semester, students were introduced via lecture to fundamentals of the planning & design, law & policy, engineering, and communications challenges facing coastal cities in relation to sea-level rise, storm risk, and other factors that affect their long-term resilience. The Panhandle city of Port St. Joe is this semester’s case study community and host students for a spring break field study. The course focused on elements of long-term recovery and community resilience following a catastrophic hurricane. Working in interdisciplinary teams, students undertook a scenario analysis exercise in which they use knowledge gained from the readings and lectures to envision how Port St. Joe not only recovers from Hurricane Michael but builds back better and more equitably and resiliently than before. From this scenario analysis exercise, students will develop alternative policy, design, infrastructure, and communication paths that this coastal city might pursue to address several discrete challenges and will assess the efficacy of these various paths.

During spring break, students spent five intensive days in Port St. Joe visiting relevant sites and hearing from experts in a variety of fields to inform their understanding and their scenario analysis and associated work product.

Faculty Core Team: Jeff Carney, Architecture; Cleary Larkin, Architecture; Tim Mclendon, Law; Corene Matyas, CLAS; Alyson Larson, Journalism; David Prevatt, Engineering; Thomas Ruppert, Law; and additional invited speakers

Course Admin and Coordinator: Carolyn Cox, Florida Climate Institute

Final Adaptation Strategy Proposals

Team 1 – Regional

Team Proposal (PDF)

Online presentation:

Team 2 – Park System

Team Proposal (PDF)

Online presentation:

Team 3 – Urban Design

Team Proposal (PDF)

Online presentation:

Team 4 – Housing and Neighborhoods

Team Proposal (PDF)

Online presentation:



Sea Level Rise and Coastal Cities 2018 Spring Break Field Course

This interdisciplinary team-taught course -- offered and taught by faculty from the Colleges of Design, Construction & Planning, Engineering, Law, and Journalism -- was coordinated by the Florida Climate Institute.

In the first part of the semester, students were introduced via lecture to climate science, fundamentals of the planning & design, law & policy, engineering, and communications challenges that sea-level rise presents for coastal cities, using St. Augustine, with its unique cultural heritage and resources, as a case study.

During an intensive field segment in St. Augustine over spring break, multidisciplinary grad student teams developed adaptation strategies to address the challenges of increased coastal flooding, outlining law and policy, historic preservation, design, infrastructure, and communication approaches. Working with city officials, staff, residents, and other experts, UF students applied their classroom learning to address real-world problems, developing creative solutions to pressing challenges facing coastal cities today.

Faculty Core Team: Alyson Flournoy and Tim McLendon, College of Law, Arnoldo Valle-Levinson, College of Engineering, Alyson Larson, College of Journalism, and Marty Hylton and Crystal Goodison, College of Design, Construction, & Planning 

UF Contributors and Lecturers: Kathryn Frank and Mike Volk from the College of Design, Construction, & Planning, Eban Bean from the College of Engineering, Andrea Dutton from the Department of Geological Sciences, Thomas Hawkins, from UF Law and 1000 Friends of Florida, Misty Sharp from the Department of Food and Resource Economics, and Dan Fesenmeier from the UF Department of Tourism   

Course Admin and Coordinator: Carolyn Cox, Florida Climate Institute

Course video promo

The link below includes is a recording of the student presentations from their assigned sites in St. Augustine.


Group I: Avenida Menendez—9:00-26:00

Group II: Lake Maria Sanchez—27:00-48:37

Group III: Court Theophelia—49:15-1:04​

Outside the Box Engineering Solutions—1:04-1:12

Communications Strategy and Tech---1:12-1:22

Q & A--1:22  

Final Adaptation Strategy Proposals for each group can be found below

Group I: Avenida Menendez

Group II: Lake Maria Sanchez

Group III: Court Theophelia


Contact Person: Volk, Michael

Collaborators: Gail Hansen (UF); Belinda Nettles (UF)

Institutions: University of Florida

Funding Agency: California Landscape Architectural Student Scholarship Fund (CLASS Fund)

Status: Funded

Filed Under: LandHuman Dimensions, Terrestrial Ecosystems

Year Awarded: 2017

Additional Information: The California Landscape Architectural Student Scholarship Fund (CLASS Fund) Selection Committee is pleased to announce that the 2016-17 CLASS Fund Grant Award goes to Professor Michael Volk and his research team for a project entitled, Incorporating Climate Change into Landscape Architectural Projects and Practice. 

Professor Volk from the Department of Landscape Architecture at University of Florida will lead an interdisciplinary research team to examine Landscape Architects’ roles in mitigating climate change impacts and alternative design and implementation practices in the state of Florida.  Using data from a recent survey on attitudes and perceptions of Florida landscape architects toward climate change, Professor Volk’s study will identify information gaps and possible barriers to adoption of landscape design practices that anticipate and plan for climate change, as well as potential strategies that can be used to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change on the built and natural environment.

Professor Michael Volk commented that, “landscape architects have a significant role in addressing climate change in their work and practice, and many landscape architects are already doing so. We greatly appreciate the support of the CLASS Fund and CELA in this project, and look forward to continuing our work to advance knowledge in this area.”

Other members on the research team include: Professor Gail Hansen, Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, and Belinda Nettles, PhD Candidate, Center for Landscape Conservation Planning & Levin College of Law Conservation Clinic, University of Florida.


Congratulations to the Winners of FCI 2-Minute Student Video Competition!

The 1st place award ($500) goes to FIU students Carlos Tamayo, Noura Alsawari, and Mohamed Zaghloul for their video on climate challenges and solutions in Miami. The 2nd place award ($250) goes to FAMU students Lesley-Ann Jackson, Dejour Monroe, and Briyana Stewart for their hip hop video advocating for climate change awareness and action.

About the Competition

In the fall of 2017, the Florida Climate Institute called on all students across our universities to create compelling videos on climate challenges that will promote understanding of impacts and inspire action! 

The Challenge:
  • Form an interdisciplinary/creative team (min. 2 disciplines) to address climate-related challenges and solutions
  • Illustrate how science informs solutions but communicate a story in a new/novel way
  • Show evidence of the challenge and the significance of the challenge to society
  • Explain how adaptation and/or mitigation strategies will help society and better lives in a way that a non-scientist would fully understand. Potential audiences would include civic leaders, public health professionals, environmental advocates, neighborhood associations, developers, residential property owners, industries/polluters, teachers in grade school, middle or high school, engineers and architects, professional organizations
The Timetable:
  • Each participating FCI university will hold a campus-wide event in late September. Contact your FCI representative directly for local event info at  
  • The winning work from each local campus event will be entered into a statewide competition.
  • The winners from the statewide competition will receive cash prizes and be able to show their work at the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact Summit December 14-15 in Fort Lauderdale. The first place award for the statewide competition will be $500. The second place award for the statewide competition will be $250.

Download Competition Guidelines


Sea Level Rise and Coastal Ecology: Science, Policy and Practice

An interdisciplinary course offered by the University of Florida Colleges of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Law and coordinated by the Florida Climate Institute. The goal of this course is to provide students a firm grounding in the science, law & policy, and economics associated with sea-level rise and climate change in the Nature Coast region through an interdisciplinary and experiential collaborative approach. This course will combine classroom lectures and disciplinary integration with an intensive field experience. Sessions will focus on ecological, coastal and marine issues through field-based immersion, practitioner lectures, and reflective discussions in an interdisciplinary context. Student teams will verbalize and defend their findings and recommendations in an open forum designed to highlight their learning

Faculty Core Team: Dr. Micheal Allen, School of Forest Resources & Conservation, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IFAS), Dr. Ellen Martin, Department of Geology, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences,Thomas T. Ankersen, College of Law

Field & Lecture Contributors: Dr. John Jaeger, Department of Geology, Dr. Jack Putz, Department of Biology, Dr. Peter Frederick, School of Wildilfe Ecology & Conservation, Dr. Elizabeth Pienaar, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Dr. Andrea Dutton, Department of Geology, Dr. Mark Clark, Soil and Water Science, Andrew Gude (USFWS), Leslie Sturmer & Savannah Barry, Florida Sea Grant, NRLI team

Coordinating Entity: Florida Climate Institute, Carolyn Cox

Student Cap & Composition:  15 Graduate and Professional degree students comprising 5 students each from programs in CLAS, CALS and LAW


Sea Level Rise Poster 1

Sea Level Rise Poster 2 

Sea Level Rise Poster 3 

Sea Level Rise Poster 4 

Sea Level Rise Poster 5

Sea Level Rise & Coastal Ecology White Papers

Summary Report


YouTube Video