As part of SCCF’s new memorandum of understanding with the University of Florida (UF) Center for Coastal Solutions, an inaugural fall semester course called the Coastal Policy Lab is bringing together six law students from the UF Law Conservation Clinic and six engineering graduate students affiliated with the Center for Coastal Solutions to address coastal resiliency on Sanibel and Captiva islands.
UF Law Professor Tom Ankersen, pictured here, and UF Environmental Engineering Professor Christine Angelini are focusing the first Coastal Policy Lab in Charlotte Harbor.
“We are excited to make SCCF the Coastal Policy Lab’s first partner,” said Ankersen, who directs the UF Levin College of Law’s Conservation Clinic. “While we both have a lot of experience working with students in real-world settings, and in bringing actionable solutions to the table from our respective disciplines, this is the first time these two applied disciplines have formally partnered at UF in this way.”
The Coastal Policy Lab is an experiential learning program in which law and graduate engineering and science students work together in teams on projects of importance to a local partner—in this case SCCF. They are exploring nature-based solutions that address sea level rise and water quality, such as living seawalls and shorelines, oyster and sponge gardening, mangrove management, and navigation channel design. Financial support for the program is provided by Florida Sea Grant.
SCCF CEO Ryan Orgera said that the Coastal Policy Lab comes at a pivotal time for SCCF, which has accelerated its focus on its Coastal Resiliency Program. “We are eager to see what types of solutions and natural interventions the Coastal Policy Lab creates,” he said. “The best way to address climate change-driven impacts is by having a visionary long view of building resiliency in Southwest Florida.”
Students are also researching institutional design options for coastal resiliency programming such as “adaptation action areas” and “coastal resiliency districts.” The student teams will present their results to SCCF stakeholders by early December. SCCF staff advising the project teams include SCCF Coastal Resiliency Program Manager Carrie Schuman, SCCF Environmental Policy Director James Evans, and SCCF Marine Laboratory Director Eric Milbrandt.
“This course and the student projects are just a small part of a much greater commitment to the partnership and to addressing water quality hazards in Charlotte Harbor,” said Angelini, who directs the Center for Coastal Solutions, which houses the Coastal Policy Lab. “We will be bringing the best science and the latest technology to bear as we work with SCCF and other partners to ensure water quality in Charlotte Harbor. The challenge is enormous, but so too are the rewards.”