Tag Archives: Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES)

InTeGrate: Teaching about Risk and Resilience

An innovative and important workshop – InTeGrate: Teaching about Risk and Resilience – started on Wednesday 14 May 2014, with some sixty higher education teachers,educators and researchers from around the country in attendance. The workshop ends today, Friday 16 May 2014, in Boca Raton Florida.

At 7:30 A.M. the morning before the workshop opening plenary the skies looked menacing with storm clouds, and promising as well.
At 7:30 A.M. the morning before the workshop opening plenary the skies looked menacing with storm clouds, and promising as well.

The workshop and the InTeGrate project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), are brainchildren of Dr. Cathryn (‘Cathy’) Manduca, Ph. D. Director of the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota.

The Marleen and Harold Forkas Alumni Center was the venue for the InTeGrate workshop 14-16 May 2014

This particular workshop, one of several organized by InTeGrate/SERC, is a collaborative effort of several institutions that are engaged in important research and other activities  related to the central topic of Risk and Resilience. Reflecting such multi-institutional support workshop conveners include the following wonderful, deducated and hard working, individuals: Leonard (‘Len’) Berryof the Florida Center for Environmental Studies (CES), David Blockstein, National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), Cathy Manduca, SERC, Carleton College, Mantha Mehallis, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and John Taberof IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology). Mary-Beth Hartman of CES/FAU and Monica Bruckner of SERC/Carleton College coordinated  the myriad details of hosting and convening  this event.

The program got off to a good start with a reception and dinner on Wednesday 14 May 2014, at the FAU Alumni  Center, followed by the keynote address by Dr. Leonard Berry. Ph.D., Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, Florida Atlantic University and a Panel Discussion moderated by David Blockstein of NCSE with the following panelists Ricardo A. Alvarez,former Deputy Director, International Hurricane Center, Research Affiliate at the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, Tatjana Hocke-Mirzashvili, James Madison University, and Mark Benthien, Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), University of Southern California.

The panelists were tasked with commenting of Dr. Berry’s Keynote Address, highlighting key concepts and questions to set a foundation for discussions during the following day and a half of workshop plenary sessions and breakout group meetings.

Referring to Len Berry’s keynote Ricardo Alvarez made the following remarks:

“Len has made something that is rather difficult to do appear rather simple and easy by taking what is the complex and wide ranging topic of risk and resilience and in just a few minutes, dissect it into its key concepts and components, to present us rather effectively  with a summary that is relevant and easy to understand. Most of us have difficulty in clearly articulating just one aspect of this topic, while others have written lengthy papers and even books attempting to do the same thing.”

“For me one of the ‘take-home messages’ is that teaching is about transferring actionable knowledge to relevant sectors including, not only scientists and other professionals, but also policy-makers and the general public. Teaching is about progressing from science to application, from research to the implementation of solutions. teaching about risk and resilience is about preparedness in anticipation of expected impacts to our vulnerable communities. We all, as teachers, educators, need to be interpreters of science bringing knowledge to people, to all of us, about places we all understand. Not about global climate change, global warming or global sea level rise, but about how any of these processes may impact our own community, the places where we live and work.”

“Len has highlighted several key principles and concepts for us, including: (a) Risk and vulnerability are shared conditions, so it makes sense for residents of one community to work together toward managing their risk and achieving resiliency; (b) Relative to this a very good local example of collaboration, and working together, is the Four County Climate Change Compact formed by Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties that is a model for the entire nation; (c) Addressing risk and resilience requires an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach, and also a new paradigm for planning, one that is not based on the past but on what the future may bring by way of potential impacts; (d) In some cases we may view resilience almost as a ‘code word’ to be able to discuss ‘politically controversial’ issues, such as sea level rise and climate change, in some sectors or venues. Here Len addresses an ‘ugly truth’ of the climate change, sea level rise, global warming discourse, where ideology or political orientation trump the dialogue and the right of self-expression; (e) Len poses a challenging question: “Does resilience need to increase as risk increases?”; and (f) Perhaps of greater relevancy for purposes of this workshop are Len’s comments about the two cases that will be used to set a foundation for discussion and dialogue during the workshop, which make me think of the effectiveness of a ‘learn-by-doing’ approach where the events described by the case are the ‘doing’ part, something that has been done, that has taken place already, while what we can borrow, copy because it is good, avoid, or adapt from the case, constitutes the ‘learning’. In this sense this is about using real-life practical examples rather than theory. to learn more, to educate ourselves, about risk and resilience, the main topic of this workshop. Thank you Len for inspiring us as we look forward to a productive workshop. Thank you”

Cathy Manduca, SERC and InTeGrate project Director welcomes participants during the opening plenary session
Cathy Manduca, SERC and InTeGrate project Director welcomes participants during the opening plenary session

During the Opening Plenary Session on Thursday 15, May 2014, two case studies were introduced to workshop participants. One was an earthquake scenario presented by Mark Benthien of USC and Keith Porter of SPA Risk LLC. The second case study was a sea level rise scenario presented jointly by Nancy Gassman of Broward County Public Works Division, and Ricardo A. Alvarez of CES/FAU. Dr. Gassman presented (Gassman Teaching Risk and Resilience FAU 05152014) the events described in the case related to flooding, coastal erosion, water-management, seasonal extreme high tides, and the indirect impact of Hurricane Sandy, and the exacerbating aspects of sea level rise in the City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ricardo presented (Using Case Studies as Teaching Tools ) on the benefits of using case studies as tools in teaching about risk and resilience, and also identified several specific teaching opportunities offered by the  ‘sea  level rise scenario’ case presented at the workshop.

InTeGrate workshop participants attend the opening plenary session
InTeGrate workshop participants attend the opening plenary session

Discussions about the Fort Lauderdale Sea-level rise case continued during a breakout session moderated by Eileen Johnson of Bowdoin College, with Nancy Gassman and Ricardo Alvarez as panelists and subject-matter experts, and Julie Lambert of FAU acting as session rapporteur, during which panelists and participants engaged in extensive dialogue and Q&A both about scientific and engineering aspects of the case study, and about issues related to teaching about risk and resilience to undergraduates.

On Thursday the post-lunch plenary session moderated by Alana Edwards of FAU was about 'Examples of Incorporating Risk and Resilience into the Curriculum and Across Disciplines
On Thursday the post-lunch plenary session moderated by Alana Edwards of FAU was about ‘Examples of Incorporating Risk and Resilience into the Curriculum and Across Disciplines

The Coastal Built Environment in Southeast Florida and Sea Level Rise: Prognosis for potential damage and needed change.

Organized by the Florida Center for Environmental Studies [CES] at Florida Atlantic University [FAU], and with support from several public and private agencies and institutions, an important conference – RISK AND RESPONSE: SEA LEVEL RISE SUMMIT: The Future of Florida and the Coast – took place on 20-22 June 2012 at the Marriott Hotel, Boca Raton, Florida.

Some of the sponsors of the SLR 2012 Summit
Additional sponsors of the SLR 2012 Summit

Truly an outstanding 2-1/2 day conference featuring: 1)  An exhibition of more than 40 scientific posters covering an ample range of topics, from * Statement of the Problem; *Impacts on the Built Environment; * Economic Impacts; * Organizing for Climate Change through Partnerships; * Adaptation and Mitigation – Preparing for the Future; and * Education: Explaining the Problem, Sharing the Message. 2) Two wonderful and dynamic keynote speakers: Margaret Davidson, Director of NOAA Coastal Services Center, who delivered inspirational opening remarks on the topic of Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation in Florida, and Michael E. Mann, published author and professor of Meteorology at Penn State University who spoke about his work linking global warming to greenhouse gas emissions, and the fallout of political attacks that ensued, which are documented in his book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. 3) A total of seven working sessions where seven moderators and 32 panelists discussed, and presented views and research findings on a range of topics, while also involving the audience of more than 250 participants in lively Q&A and comments segments.

I had the privilege of being invited to be a panelist in Session Four: Impacts on Built Environment: Urban Planning where we responded to the following question: How is urban infrastructure and housing, both existing and new development, adapting to increases in sea level? The session moderator was Anthony Abbate, Associate Provost for Broward Campuses and Professor, School of Architecture, Florida Atlantic University; and the panel consisted of: Daniel Williams, Rhonda Haag, Margo Moehring and Ricardo A. Alvarez.

Four of the speakers at the SLR 2012 Summit, including Anthony Abbate who moderated session 4, and Ricardo A. Alvarez one of the panelist in Session 4

As a panelist I focused my remarks on the potential for damage to coastal buildings and infrastructure from the impact of storm surge, which is being exacerbated by sea level rise, and which in my view constitutes the dynamic and most visual evidence of sea level rise and the current threat it represents for our built-environment. My presentation was based on notes from a paper in progress under the title of: The Coastal Built Environment in Southeast Florida and Sea Level Rise: Prognosis for potential damage and needed change. To view these notes go to the banner menu above and click on CONFERENCES-PRESENTATIONS, then select Panel Presentation: Sea Level Rise Summit 20-22 June 201.

I have been involved in global change and sea level rise arena since 1997, and the specific topic of impacts to the built environment and the need for adaptation has been on the table in most of the numerous conferences and workshops I have attended over the years, but this specific SLR 2912 SUMMIT is the first time that this topic is directly addressed and discussed, both from the perspective of a problem that will grow worse over time in the future, and that of potential solutions and areas of additional research. In this regard I must say that our panel received immediate feedback during the Q&A segment that followed our presentations and discussions. At a personal level, I had twelve participants who approached me after the session had ended to ask additional questions, or to share ideas and comments regarding the specific topic of adaptation of the built environment. Also, I have continued to receive follow-up comments via email throughout this the week after the Summit.  I submit this confirms: (1) How appropriate and on target was the inclussion of this specific topic in the program for the Summit, and (2) The high level of importance  the public gives to this issue as reflected by the involvement of the participants who were a representative sample of the public at large.

In closing I would like to emphasize we all must stay on this topic, which means we will need to engage in follow-up workshops and conferences, and in a continuous and vibrant dialog as we search for solutions and alternatives for the many facets of the problem. In this, we must maintain an open mind while we work toward solutions staying above the ‘noise’ of ‘nay-sayers’ claiming either there is nothing that can be done or that it isn’t happening. Godspeed to us all, let us roll-up our sleeves and tackle this head-on!