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



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 http://floridaclimateinstitute.org/about/executive-board  
  • 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

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.

Contact Person: Crowl, Todd A.

Collaborators: Todd A. Crowl, Rudolf Jaffe, Rene M. Price, Shu-Ching Chen, Laird H. Kramer

Institutions: Florida International University

Funding Agency: NSF

Status: Funded

Filed Under: WaterHuman Dimensions

Abstract: With National Science Foundation support, Florida International University will establish the Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment. Human-derived environmental contaminants consist of antibiotics and pharmaceuticals, mercury, black carbon, and fossil fuels. These stressors are recognized as having significant effects on ecosystems and biota as well as on human wellbeing. It is critical to understand the biogeochemical processes that govern the fate of these compounds and their impacts on the ecosystem. Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment research will address the sources, transport, transformation and ecosystem responses to contaminants, pollutants and other natural stressors, under changing land-use and environmental conditions.

The Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment will generate significant new knowledge regarding contaminants and pollutants in aquatic environments, as well as produce innovative methodologies for detecting and assessing contaminant quantities and impacts, including the use of molecular detection techniques. The proposed research will advance current efforts on the biological effects, transport, transformation and distribution of contaminants in the environment into new collaborative research areas that investigate the sources and transport of contaminants and pollutants in aquatic systems.

The Center articulates three research subprojects organized around environmental chemistry, biogeochemistry, ecology and data synthesis and modeling as they pertain to regional water resources. The first subproject will advance the effectiveness of approaches for the analysis of traditional pollutants, develop methodologies for the characterization and quantification of previously unknown contaminants and extend the applicability of molecular biology methodologies to assess environmental stressors to aquatic organisms across land-use boundaries. The second subproject uses new sensing techniques to determine biogeochemical cycles including contaminant sources, storage, transport and transformations. The third research subproject develops data analytic methods to enable synthesis across large, complex data sets to allow holistic effects assessment for understanding South Florida's aquatic ecosystem.

The Center for Aquatic Chemistry and the Environment will establish innovative opportunities for students to experience authentic and socially relevant environmental research and foster their development as future STEM professionals.

NSF Award Page: http://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1547798