2023-2024 Sustainability Grant Awardees
Addressing the sources of CCU's floating debris discharge into the adjacent wetlands
Till Hanebuth, Professor, Marine Science; Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw Riverkeeper; Katie Finegan, Research Affiliate
Most of the surface and underground water runoff of Coastal's campus and its associated student residence areas is drained through a pipe system underneath Hwy 544 into the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge wetlands. The runoff transports large amounts of floating anthropogenic debris (FAD; aka plastic trash, hazardous materials).
This emerging issue leads to twofold concerns: a) If Coastal wants to be received as a main player towards more sustainable approaches, its own backyards should appear clean; 2) the Waccamaw National Wildlife Reserve and other wetlands are significantly affected by this FAD discharge. It is proposed to install self-designed and self-constructed FAD barrier collectors at those 3 sites through which nearly all of Coastal's FAD is currently draining. Frequent clearance of the collection structures will allow for both removing the debris from the wetlands as well as generating a long-term science-based data set that informs about the various types regarding CCU's and Hwy 544's debris discharge.
The ultimate goals are to:
a) Identify and address Coastal's FAD output issue to significantly reduce this type of contamination;
b) Demonstrate Coastal's engagement towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment;
c) Establish a long-term, highly visible activity with significant technical and scientific involvement of CCU undergraduate and graduate students;
d) Demonstrate a technical solution that might have the potential to spread over the coastal region regarding tracing and addressing contamination sources;
e) Further develop the FAD analytical capacity at Coastal; and
f) Prevent that Coastal further loses its reputation as one of the main contaminators for the valuable and vulnerable Waccamaw wetlands.
This proposal was prepared with the support of Jason Brunicke, MSCI undergraduate and Honors College student.
CCU Cycles Safely
Sara Rich, Assistant Professor, HTC Honors College; Dory Sibley, Assistant Professor, Theatre; Brian Nicosia, Coordinator of Outdoor Recreation
On behalf of CCU's Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC), CCU Cycles Safely is a new campus initiative to encourage cycling as a safe and reliable alternative mode of transportation on and off campus. This proposal identifies essential first steps in this larger initiative by ensuring that current and potential cyclists on campus can repair their bicycles free of charge at various convenient locations around campus. Riding a well-functioning bicycle is fundamental to riding safely, and expanding access to free, simple repairs will encourage continued and expanded use of bicycles around our campus community. The BAC Fall 2022 Cycling Survey indicated that respondents would be more likely to ride to classes and off campus if they could perform routine maintenance (such as airing up tires) at residence halls and other convenient locations.
Community Garden and Compost Collection Facility
Dominique Cagalanan, Director of Arboriculture; Joshua Whitney, Horticultural Manager; Cassandra LaValley, Sustainability Coordinator
This project will integrate the work of Grounds and Sustain Coastal, two separate departments under Campus Environments, through building a community garden and compost collection facility on campus. This project will advance progress towards CCU’s commitment to sustainability while fostering sustainable practices and a general culture of sustainability among members of the CCU community; offering new opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage with and learn from one another; and providing opportunities for experiential learning. By being located directly across the street from the freshman residential buildings (and in a currently under-utilized space), we hope and anticipate that the community garden and compost collection facility will increasingly become a part of campus life and encourage students to adopt more sustainable practices early on, creating lifestyle habits they can carry with them beyond their time at CCU.
Waccamaw Indian People Traditional Ecological Knowledge & Cultural Heritage Exhibit
Carolyn Dillan, Professor and Associate Dean, Spadoni College of Education and Social Sciences; Katie Stringer Clary, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
This co-curricular and interdisciplinary project creates a collaborative outdoor exhibit through a partnership between CCU faculty/students, and the Waccamaw Indian People (WIP), a state-recognized Native American tribe whose traditional territory extended throughout Horry County, SC. The research and design of the proposed exhibit is embedded in experiential learning and new QEP initiatives through three undergraduate courses at CCU (SESS 301 [QEP course], ANTH 432, and IDS 430), where students work hand-in-hand with community partners to conduct interviews, participate in environmental/cultural surveys, research and design exhibit content, and install exhibit materials within the Tribal Grounds. This project contributes to educational efforts within Horry County to increase students’ and the public’s understanding of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and sustainable land stewardship.
Outreach efforts partner with the Indigenize SC Education Task Force to create and distribute supplemental materials for local teachers, as well as become part of the WIP’s educational programs hosted during their annual School Days. CCU students learn how the lands of the Waccamaw Indian People are maintained in traditional indigenous ways; how to restore and preserve the cultural heritage and biodiversity that persists within the Tribal Grounds and surrounding region; and connect with tribal members and the community as stewards of the land by providing advanced opportunities for learning about TEK. By developing an outdoor interpretive trail and exhibit space on the Waccamaw Tribal Grounds, we will advance Sustainable Development Goals 4, 11, 12, and 15, through education, sustainable community, responsible consumption, and protection of life on land.
Water Mark / Metal Recycling
Michael Woodle, Associate Professor, Visual Arts
Metalsmithing is a field that struggles with its intense impact on the environment due to destructive mining processes. Less understood is that metalsmithing is a field that has relied on recycling from its earliest development. Due to the high cost of production and the inherent value in the material itself, scraps generated in making work have been meticulously recycled for the entire history of the field. Large refineries conduct most of the recycling but charge massive fees to the small producers. As a result, students at Coastal Carolina University are not able to process their materials effectively and affordably. Moreover, the cost of having to continually purchase new material disproportionately impacts students with less flexible incomes. By introducing a metal recycling system into the metalsmithing curriculum we will expand students' abilities to make the work they want to make, recover material lost in production, rebalance socioeconomic inequality in the classroom, and decrease the carbon footprint of anyone working in precious and semi-precious materials. Once the system is online it can also be made available to the CCU science programs.
The equipment will also be used in conjunction with a 2023-2024 Professional Enhancement Grant to more sustainably produce a new body of work, Water Mark. This body of work will document the effects of flooding, climate change, and socioeconomic inequality. The introduction of recycling processes will effectively extend the material budget for the project by approximately 30% while reducing the impact of material production on the environment.
Zero-Waste Performance Festival: A Sustainable Celebration of Art and Action
Benjamin Sota; Sandrine Schaeffer; Sadie Desantis
Zero-Waste Performance Festival: A Sustainable Celebration of Art and Action (ZWPF) The festival is a zero-waste event powered by participant kinetic energy and/or solar power that provides Coastal Carolina University students with an opportunity to present eco-work and engage the wider community. Our festival is co-presented by CCU, Conway Downtown Alive and Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance, fostering discussions about sustainability with diverse audiences in our local communities.
ZWPF was inspired by a group of students who were passionate about showcasing diverse forms of artistic expression. Festival development incorporates existing courses in the Visual Arts Studio Department in addition to the pilot of a new fall course in the Theatre department. These courses instruct students about sustainable site-specific theatre and this work reflects a hybrid of theoretical and experiential learning to help culminate in the ZWPF festival. The festival's production fits within larger goals in the Theatre and Visual Art departments by centering interdisciplinary collaboration and the integration of sustainability into current and new curriculum.
This project contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal of Climate Action by teaching students about the importance of sustainable practices in the creation of site-specific theatre and performance art. The project improves student learning, engages students in contemplative pedagogy, and impacts the university and wider community by promoting sustainable practices in the arts and raising awareness about the importance of sustainability.
Seafood, Mercury, and Human Health in Coastal South Carolina
Russell Fielding; Zenobia Harper
Fishing can represent an environmentally sustainable way to produce protein- and vitamin-rich foodstuffs while offering cultural and economic benefits to local communities. Seafood consumption is also the main path by which people are exposed to mercury, especially the more toxic organic form known as methylmercury, which can negatively affect human health. For a fishery to be sustainable, then, balance must be sought among its cultural, economic, environmental, and human-health aspects. This community-engaged project will focus upon the human health aspect of fisheries and seafood consumption in coastal South Carolina.
A simple and effective way to measure mercury exposure in humans is through the laboratory analysis of hair samples. Together with data on diet and health history, mercury concentrations measured from hair samples can inform researchers about interactions between environmental pollution and human health in seafood-dependent areas. This project will use a novel methodology that Fielding recently developed and implemented in the Caribbean. Specifically, we will partner with local barbers and hairstylists in Horry and Georgetown counties to collect hair samples from volunteer adult participants among their clientele. Each participant will also complete a brief, anonymous, online survey that includes questions about their diet--with particular emphasis on seafood consumption--and health history. Hair samples will be analyzed for mercury concentrations and the results compared statistically with diet and health data from the surveys.
2022-2023 Sustainability Grant Awardees
2022-2023 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.