FIU Professors Win Grant For Sea-Level Rise Project

Apr 15, 2014

Abel Fernandez, broadcast media junior, using FIU's new Media Innovation Incubator Lab at the north campus. Most of the sea-level rise project meetings will take place here. Students have swiveling desks and chairs, 20 laptops, 20 tablets, a smart TV and a view of the campus.
Credit Jessica Meszaros / WLRN

Florida International University is one of twelve colleges in the country to win a grant from the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education this year. Four FIU journalism professors proposed a project on sea-level rise in South Florida. 

Juliet Pinto, Susan Jacobson, Kate MacMillan and Robert Gutsche proposed and are now creating the Sea-Level Rise South Florida project. The goal is to give South Floridians easy access to data on sea-level rise, using a website and an app created by students. 

"It's really getting the citizens into the classroom and the students out of the classroom," says Robert Gutsche.

To do that, the professors will launch two courses in the fall -- one on geographic information systems, where the app will be created. The other class will focus on investigative journalism. Students will use the data to live report on their findings. 

The project will first present all the current data on sea-level rise to South Floridians, but will add what the professors call "crowd hydrology."

"Well, it's crowd sourcing data related to hydrology -- how water flows and how it collects," says Juliet Pinto. "We want people to contribute their own lived experiences with flooding." 

With this information, the professors want to build an app locals can use to understand the impact sea-level rise will have on their homes and businesses.

Bruno Grudny is a senior at FIU and plans to sign up for the project in the fall. He lives in Miami Beach and witnesses sea-level rise regularly.

"You can actually see on Fifth and Alton how the sea level rises, and the cars have to go through little pieces of ocean on the road," says Grudny. 

The professors had their first project meeting last week, but hope to work out out all of the kinks through the summer.  

The documentary below was created by Kate MacMillin and Juliet Pinto. It inspired the Sea-Level Rise South Florida project. 

The video below was created by FIU junior Abel Fernandez on the sea-level awareness event for National Public Health Week at FIU.