University Sustainability

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Sustainability Research Forum

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The inaugural Sustainability Research Forum, held Oct. 22 at Appalachian State University, highlighted the sustainability-focused scholarly activities and creative endeavors of three of Appalachian's distinguished faculty. The forum was presented by Hubbard Programs for Faculty Excellence, Academic Affairs, the Office of Research and the Office of Sustainability. 

The forum was held in support of the university's 2014-19 strategic plan, "The Appalachian Experience: Envisioning a Just and Sustainable Future," and demonstrated the university's commitment to sustainability by showcasing three university scholars.

Dr. Carol Kline presented "Influencing Community Wealth through Agroecotourism in Cuba: An Application of the Community Capitals Framework" Prior to joining the faculty at Appalachian, Kline used the Community Capitals Framework to explore the relationship between an urban organic cooperative farm in Cuba and tourism activity. She said the framework can be used to evaluate impacts of social movements, programs or industry within a community or region and define community assets as natural, cultural, human, social, political, financial or built capital. Such studies, she wrote, can add insights to tourism planning.

Dr. Jim Houser presented "Graywater Reclamation and Remediation at Haircut 101." His talk included a panel comprised of his research team, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members and local business owners who contributed their own knowledge and perspectives on the research.

This project received a $90,000 award from Environmental Protection Agency's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Student Design Competition for Sustainability in 2012 to test the efficacy of using plants in a miniature wetland to "clean" graywater from a hair salon and use it for irrigation, to flush toilets or other use.

Houser and the panel's presentation also included small-scale working prototypes and plants to demonstrate how the reclamation system functions, as well as diagrams and pictures illustrating how the system will work and how it will likely appear in the hair salon.Tom Hansell from the Center for Appalachian Studies presented "After Coal: Welsh and Appalachian Mining Companies." Hansellscreened a short video and then presented a set of questions to the audience for discussion. Hansell, along with retired anthropology professor Pat Beaver, are developing a documentary and community engagement project titled After Coal: Welsh and Appalachian Mining Communities. The project explores how two mining cultures are facing the challenge of their dependence on fossil fuels, and also examines questions of sustainability, including: what happens when fossil fuels are depleted? Who benefits from resource extraction? What resources are available for diversifying the Appalachian economy? What kind of partnerships can help develop solutions?

Kline, Hansell and Houser received a commemorative certificate, and were inducted into the Sustainability Council's Order of the Wild Turkey, its highest honor. They also received a research award of $250.

The Sustainability Council's Curriculum and Research Committee reviewed proposals from a variety of academic disciplines and selected Kline, Hansell and Houser as examples of faculty members conducting exemplary research that highlights a deep engagement in sustainability. Their research presentations were also selected for their likelihood to foster student engagement in similar research on Appalachian's campus and beyond. 

View the entire album here.