2021-2022 Sustainability Grant Awardees - Coastal Carolina University
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2021-2022 Sustainability Grant Awardees

Course Development SPAN 250 - Spanish for Sustainability

Edurne Beltran de Heredia, Assistant Professor of Spanish, Languages & Intercultural Studies

The course SPAN 250: Spanish for Sustainability, scheduled for Spring 2023, is an overview of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their application in the Hispanic world. Taking up a wide range of cultural approaches and real-life materials, this course examines how communities in the Hispanic world are working together to promote prosperity while protecting our planet. Students understand how Latin America, Spain, the Latinx Communities in the U.S, and Equatorial Guinea are acting to recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, gender equality, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.

Students taking SPAN 250 will also participate in the Second Undergraduate Research Symposium in Spanish, an annual symposium where students taking Spanish at CCU present their research projects and interact with scholars in an academic environment. Since participating in the symposium is part of the course, students will showcase their projects related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that apply to the Hispanic world. The symposium will welcome Dr. Mariaelena Huambachano, a native Peruvian Indigenous scholar and professor at Syracuse University as guest speaker.

The course will also include two field trips of one day each to visit the local Gullah Geechee community and the RCE Georgetown. A study abroad program of one week to the RCE in Puerto Rico will be integrated to this course in spring 2024.

Early Flood Warning System in Horry County and Georgetown County

Khaled Kheireldin, Teaching Associate, Physics and Engineering Science, Physics & Engineering Science

A pilot project for a flood warning system in Horry County and Georgetown County in South Carolina is proposed.  The proposed   Flood Warning System (FWS) is considered as a proof of concept for an integrated system to measure rainfall amounts and monitors water levels in wetlands, swamp, creeks, and major streams on a real-time basis to inform the community of Horry County and Georgetown County in South Carolina of dangerous weather conditions and expected flood zoning. The system relies on a network of gage stations strategically placed throughout the two counties’ waterbodies such as swamps, wetland, creeks, rivers, streams, and their tributaries.

The stations shall have automatic sensors that transmit rainfall data, water bodies’ data during times of heavy rainfall and during tropical storms and hurricanes. Data shall be transmitted through a wireless internet system to software through which warning maps and alert messages to surrounding communities especially since these two counties are located in a flood hazard zone and the existing weather stations are considered not enough to have an integrated idea about the entire watershed analysis during storms. 

The purpose of the Flood Warning System website is to provide information collected by the gages in a user-friendly format directly to the user. This information shall be used by the Flood Control District, universities, stormwater divisions, public service, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency, and the department of transportation.

Battery Metal Data for Electric Vehicle Industry Research

Robert Killins. Associate Professor, Finance & Economics, Wall College of Business; Robert Burney, Professor, Finance & Economics, Wall College of Business, Finance & Economics

This proposal is for funding for battery metals datasets to support research on the transition of the automotive industry from reliance on internal combustion engines to electrical power.  While the College of Business currently has economic and finance datasets, our current arrangements do not include data for key materials (ex. lithium carbonate), used in the construction of storage batteries used in electric vehicles. Battery metals prices have risen significantly in recent years (ex. lithium up 980%) in the two years since 2020 (2).  These price increases have been accompanied by price volatility which has in some instances disrupted organized metals markets (5)   

Based on the increasing demand for electric vehicles, key battery metals are generally expected to be in tight supply through 2030 and beyond. (4) The anticipated increased demand for battery metals will require a substantial increase in global mining output.  While global reserves appear adequate, their natural distribution is overlain with geopolitical factors  which may complicate supply situations for electric vehicle manufacturers. (3) In addition, some extraction technologies have become controversial due to negative environmental impacts near extraction sites.

 This situation is serious enough that the heretofore consistent trend of decreasing electric vehicle batteries prices may slow or reverse.  This in turn could reduce the likelihood of mass adoption of electric vehicles, impeding the transition to a more sustainable transportation system.(1)

The issue of battery metals supply has recently been raised to national prominence by the Biden Administration's consideration of invoking the Defense Production Act to boost domestic production of the key minerals (2).  The Administration has come to view secure domestic supply of these as important to national security.

Thus far we have undertaken a preliminary study contrasting the of the impacts of changing oil and battery metals prices on the financial health of various vehicle manufacturers along the spectrum from legacy producers to emerging electric vehicle only firms.  Our hope is to extend and refine our investigation beyond what we have done thus far using limited publicly available data.  In addition, we anticipate that faculty colleagues interested in other aspects of sustainable transportation would be able to make use of the data acquired.

Promoting Coastal Sustainability in Engineering Education

Xiangxiong Kong, Assistant Professor, Physics and Engineering Science, Physics & Engineering Science

Coastal communities accommodate a growing population across the world but are particularly vulnerable to natural impacts due to the actions of the sea, strong winds, ground motions, and water surges. Maintaining the sustainability of coastal zones, therefore, is an urgent need for local government agencies and stakeholders. Shoreline erosion, driven by sea-level rise and climate change, is one of the major threats to coastal communities. With an increasing number of people moving to the coast, the economic loss and societal impact become essential as a result of

shoreline erosion. While multiple efforts have been investigated across government agencies, researchers, industries, and the public to address the challenge of coastal erosion, teacher’s education plays a pivotal role in attaining the sustainability development goals. The objective of this proposed project is to contribute to the 13th goal on Climate Action of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through developing new course content to incorporate the sustainability of the coastal community against the erosion challenge into an existing engineering course. The project will utilize virtual reality (VR) technology to introduce coastal erosion challenges to the engineering students, extend their knowledge of the importance of coastal sustainability, and enhance their learning experience with the usage of virtual media.

Coastal Sustainability Solutions Lab (CSSL)

Pamela Martin, Professor of Politics, Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences, Jennifer Mokos, Assistant Professor, HTC Honors College, Jaime McCauley, Associate Professor of Sociology, Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences, Anthony Setari, Assistant Professor of Educational Research Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences

The Sustainable Development Goals are built upon the pillars of equity, justice, peace, and living in harmony with nature for today and future generations. The SC Floodwater Commission Report (2019) noted our state’s need for systemic and collaborative planning,

based on scientific data with community engagement and education on resilience planning. Celebrating CCU’s addition to the University Global Coalition for the SDGs, coupled with the new Office of Resilience in our state and continued pandemic challenges, we recognize the urgent need to transform our societies and world toward more just, resilient, and sustainable pathways for all. The Coastal Sustainability Solutions Lab (CSSL) will train CCU students in the methods and skills of resilience and sustainability research through high impact  engagement in local communities and on campus to find cutting edge solutions to the intersecting challenges of flooding, sea level rise, wetlands loss, extreme heat, water quality, among others and their impacts on our quality of life, cultural heritage, and ability to leave future generations a resilient community and university in which they can thrive. This project aligns with various goals to include Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being; Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, and Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals.

Sustainable Community Development in Action

Jaime McCauley, Associate Professor, Sociology, Jennifer Mokos, Assistant Professor, HTC Honors College

As human-driven climate change combined with rapid land development increase the frequency and intensity of flooding in many coastal regions of the United States, more people and communities are exposed to the ongoing threats of rising water. For many, these occurrences have become more requent and take a toll on wellbeing. This proposal is part of a larger project called “Flooded Afterlives,” which focuses on what life is like after the  waters recede, and attentions move on. The idea for the project came from conversations and observations over the past two years with people who  flood locally. In “Flooded Afterlives” we combine faculty and student research, co-curricular activities, and community partnerships to understand the impacts of repetitive flooding on the wellbeing of individuals and communities. In this phase, we focus on repetitive flooding by conducting ethnographic research on community-led efforts in Bucksport, South Carolina to develop flood mitigation strategies that preserve the unique culture and history of the area through addressing environmental justice issues and sustainable economic development. Over the past year, over 40 environmental professionals have joined with a vision group of Bucksport residents to form a partnership network to support the community. Thus far, the Bucksport Partnership has resulted in a sustainability plan for the community, grant funding for the construction of rain gardens, and funding through the American Rescue Plan for the development of public artwork and cultural events. A hydrologic study and a community housing assessment are also underway. Bucksport provides a unique and important opportunity to document how academic, non-profit, and government agencies can work together to support  threatened communities in achieving sustainable and more just futures! 

Closed-Loop PLA Recycling- Makerspaces as Community Recycling Hubs

Joseph Minnich, Makerspace Manager, Library Services

Polylactic acid, commonly referred to as PLA, is the most widely utilized material for 3D printing. Makerspaces such as The Kimbel Library Makerspace generate several kilograms of PLA waste every year between excess support material, failed and obsolete prints. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of municipal waste facilities dispose of PLA using landfills rather than attempting to recycle it. Landfilled PLA breaks down into microplastics over time, contributing to the growing microplastics crisis.

Makerspaces are presented with a clear opportunity to lead the way for PLA recycling. The ability to collect high-quality recyclables directly at the source sets makerspaces apart from other waste facilities. Sorting, normally a costly process becomes trivially easy when done at the source. Plus, the collected material can be very high quality, nearly 100% pure, since it doesn't have to be separated from other waste.

Makerspaces are a natural venue to implement PLA recycling, not only because of their easy access to high-quality material but also because most of these facilities already own tools that can be used to repurpose and transform granulated PLA into new products. The main factor preventing makerspaces from recycling their PLA waste is the lack of access to efficient granulating machinery. This grant would allow the Kimbel Library Makerspace to purchase an industrial plastic granulator, allowing for PLA waste to be recycled and repurposed directly on campus.

Words to Say It Visiting Writers Series, Climate Fiction Event

Jessica Richardson, Associate Professor, English

Words to Say It is a reading series that for nearly two decades has brought 4-6 national or international writers of merit to Coastal Carolina University every year. Authors read from their books and present question and answer sessions as well as craft talks. The events are open to the campus and local communities and when they are streamed, they are attended widely beyond local-situated communities. In moderated question and answer sessions attendees can ask questions of the authors and in craft talks, individuals can learn more about a writer’s process. The Words to Say It Series aims to attract diverse writers and scholars and to place creative works in conversations critical to our community and many others around the world. Recent visiting writers have included Hanif Abdurraqib, Ira Sukrungruang, Erica Dawson, Michael Martone, Nikki Finney, and Ron Rash.

This special edition of the Words to Say It will bring in visiting writers whose work intersects with writing in alignment with the University's Council for Sustainability and Coastal Resilience as well as local and global concerns about climate change. To help offset the costs, we have also applied for a South Carolina Humanities Council Grant. The invited writers will interact with students, faculty, scientists and members of the local community as well as participate in a Q&A about how local environments, ecologies, and communities might contribute to Global Sustainable Development Goals.