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Sustainability Research Forum Held Oct. 22 at ASU

Oct. 21, 2014. The first Sustainability Research Forum will be held Oct. 22 at Appalachian State University to highlight the sustainability-focused scholarly activities and creative endeavors of Appalachian’s distinguished faculty.

The forum will run from 2 to 5 p.m. in Parkway Ballroom in Plemmons Student Union. The public is invited. The forum is presented by Hubbard Programs for Faculty Excellence, the Office of Research and the Office of Sustainability.

The forum supports the university’s 2014-19 strategic plan, “The Appalachian Experience: Envisioning a Just and Sustainable Future,” and will demonstrate the university’s commitment to sustainability by showcasing three university scholars. The schedule is designed to encourage faculty to attend with their classes. The forum coincides with National Campus Sustainability Day.

Presenters are Carol Kline, associate professor in hospitality and tourism management, Thomas Hansell, assistant professor in the Center for Appalachian Studies, and James Houser, assistant professor in the Department of Technology and Environmental Design.

Houser will present “Graywater Reclamation and Remediation at Haircut 101” at 2 p.m. His talk will include a panel comprised of the research team, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members and local business owners who will contribute their own knowledge and perspectives on the research. The panel also will take questions from the audience.

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 will include 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.

At 3 p.m., Hansell will present “After Coal: Welsh and Appalachian Mining Companies.” After a brief introduction with necessary background information, Hansell will screen a short video and then present 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. The project explores 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?

Carol Kline will present “Influencing Community Wealth through Agroecotourism in Cuba: An Application of the Community Capitals Framework (CCF)” at 4 p.m. Prior to joining the faculty at Appalachian, Kline used CCF to explore the relationship between an urban organic cooperative farm in Cuba and tourism activity. She said CCF 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.

As Kline shares her findings, the audience will be asked to participate by reflecting on how the CCF might relate to their community experiences and how the tool could be used in their own research.

Kline, Hansell and Houser will receive a commemorative certificate, and be inducted into the Sustainability Council’s Order of the Wild Turkey, its highest honor. They also will receive 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.