Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) is sponsoring an integrated, trans-disciplinary coastal resilience design competition to be presented at the November 2021 Coastal Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) conference in Richmond, VA.  CERF is a professional society of students, researchers, resource managers, policy makers and educators focused on the coastal ecosystem and communities. First, we want you to be aware of this unique opportunity in our own state. We hope that you might consider assembling a multi-disciplinary, faculty-student team from your institution (or in partnership with other institutions) to tackle a particular pre-identified site(s) with flooding, sea level rise, erosion, and other climate change impacts.  We are looking for highly trans-disciplinary designs that integrate multiple perspectives and enhance resilience at the sites. Please share this with colleagues. Second, we would like to offer an opportunity to someone from your institution to participate on an organizing committee for the design competition, under the leadership of Jori Erdman, an architectural design faculty member at James Madison University.  Prior to coming to Virginia, Jori was instrumental in the development of a Coastal Sustainability Studio in Louisiana, addressing coastal resilience and adaptation to climate change.  To date, the general idea for what the organizing committee will do, which will be modified and fleshed out with Jori’s leadership, includes:

  • Working with VASG, local municipalities, and state resilience officer, select a few sites in coastal Virginia, maybe MD, DE or northeastern NC too, with interesting interconnected natural and human systems that have immediate challenges from flooding/sea level rise. Sites that inter-disciplinary teams can really get their teeth in to and produce something innovative.  We’ll make a brief available online about the site, hopefully as early as this summer.
  • Construct a design competition, challenge, or exhibit program for CERF Richmond conference that would enable inter-disciplinary teams from across the mid-Atlantic or country to develop innovative design solutions for the sites. Students should be central to the teams and design work.
  • Layout a timeline and tract milestones, e.g. soliciting teams to participate, possibly inviting teams to visit the sites or find other creative ways to make detailed site characteristics widely available to teams who want to participate, setting design parameters/consistent formats, set submission deadlines, fund-raise, etc. VASG will have the lead on fund-raising.
  • Develop and administer the evaluation and judging of the submitted designs and identify a competition winner, possibly more than one competition category.  Many of VASG’s partner A&E firms would love to help on the evaluation/judging.
  • Oversee the presentation of designs in some TBD format at CERF 2021 Richmond.

We hope to see your programs participating in this coastal resilience design competition. More immediately, if you or someone in your program has interest in serving on an organizing committee for this initiative, please let me and Jori know (, We look forward to hearing from you.  Stay safe.