Professors win national journalism education grant to continue studies on sea level rise

Sea level rise

Professors Robert E. Gutsche, Jr., Susan Jacobson, Kate MacMillin and Juliet Pinto from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication(SJMC) were recently awarded a 2014-15 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education grant to conduct community-engaged journalism about the threats of sea level rise in South Florida.

Their proposal focused on using public data feeds, public media, “crowd hydrology,” and student-led journalism to conduct a public campaign that informs and engages South Florida residents on the impacts of sea level rise on their neighborhoods. The team, one of 12 selected from 125, received a $35,000 grant to seed their project.

“The scope and relevance of the Challenge Fund speaks highly to the quality of this proposal focusing on environmental communication and to the quality of the innovative, collaborative nature of the work we’re doing,” said SJMC Dean Raul Reis. “It clearly signals to funders and fellow educators that our faculty and students are working with media and community partners to produce ground-breaking projects.”

In the coming weeks, the SJMC faculty members will begin their project by partnering with the South Florida Water Management District, WPBT2, the award-winning TV science series, “Changing Seas,” the FIU Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center, the CLEO Institute, and Code for Miami and Hacks/Hackers to bring students, experts and community members to the forefront of journalism and citizen science.

Over the next year, the team and its partners will collaborate in creating news, interactive databases and maps, and data visualization tools via crowd hydrology – a form of public participation to gather data about water. As part of this campaign, FIU faculty, students and community partners will create a website to serve as a clearinghouse for information about sea level rise.

“We are thrilled to work with our public television partners again and continue informing our community about sea level rise,” said MacMillin, who, along with Pinto, produced the documentary titled South Florida’s Rising Seas that aired on WPBT2 earlier this year and also appeared on PBS NewsHour. “Our new project provides a great example of how a hyperlocal effort can serve as a model for other coastal regions facing sea level rise.”

To watch the South Florida’s Rising Seas documentary, click here. Follow this research project on social media using hashtag #SLRSoFla and #crowdhydrology.

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