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Our approach is to support science innovation and education with and for communities, so that we can bounce forward when disturbances and change occur by transforming to a more “just” and sustainable future state of environmental, social, and economic conditions.


The Coastal Resilience and Sustainability Initiative at NC State seeks to catalyze transformations in energy, development, and transportation systems, as well as socio- ecological systems, through community-engaged interdisciplinary efforts focused on mitigation and adaptation solutions.

We define community broadly (i.e., any collection of individuals, which could be organizations, companies, agencies, or politically or geographically defined areas or regions.)


The CRSI envisions a future where people, ecosystems, and economies are more resilient in the face of rapid social and environmental change. The CRSI seeks to leverage NC State’s interdisciplinary strengths to find actionable, innovative, and sustainable solutions necessary to inform the transformational choices we face in a changing climate.

The Mission and Vision of the CRSI align with the new University Strategic Plan.

  • Coastal resilience in the face of climate change is one of the world’s most critical challenges (NC State Vision).
  • Although addressing coastal resilience with sustainability is daunting, there is an opportunity for instilling hope around the climate crisis when we take an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving (NC State Mission), which will have a transformative impact on society and advances the greater good (NC State Vision).
  • Building synergies across NC State campus among some of the top scholars from diverse disciplines places NC State as the leader for social, economic, andtechnological development across North Carolina and around the world (NC StateMission).
  • Interdisciplinary efforts within CRSI addresses NC State’s core value ofcollaboration that unites NC State scholars and staff together, and with external partners (NC State Core Value). These efforts support NC State’s leadership in developing innovative partnerships, entrepreneurial thinking and applied problem- solving (Goal 6 Strategic Plan).
  • CRSI efforts will elevate the national and global reputation and visibility of NC State (Goal 7 Strategic Plan).


  • Co-learning and Science Co-Production
  • Collaboration and Partnerships
  • Local Knowledge Systems
  • Diverse Perspectives
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Mitigate Adapt Transform are CRSI’s goals. Coastal resilience and sustainability is a climate change issue and a response, which necessitates the acceptance of transforming systems but doing so deliberately in a way that is informed by both human values and science (i.e., science innovation and education with and for communities).

By mitigate, we predominately focus on science and technological innovations for reducing and stabilizing the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere (including those stored and released in plants, soils, wetlands, and oceans) but also extend a broader array of containments and pollutants that are compounding disturbances to terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems and the communities that live, learn, work, play, and pray within them. Ultimately, mitigation will require transformation of the way we’ve conceptualized the infrastructure (energy, development, and transportation systems) that supports our way of life.

By adapt, we focus on science and technological innovations to the climate change already in the pipeline. Simply stated in a coastal context, we must learn (and teach) how to ”welcome the water.” Addressing the climate change already in the pipeline will require being able to better forecast, plan for, and respond to anticipated stressors and impacts. Ultimately, this will require deep negotiation and deliberation of who, what, when, where, and how our socio-ecological systems can and should transform to ensure continuity of public health and security (e.g., food, economies, housing, and clean soil, air and water). Such transformations will necessitate policy change to ensure social, climate and environmental justice are centralized to transformations aimed at building more resilient and sustainable coastal communities. As such, we must also look upstream and derive more comprehensive solutions throughout watersheds.

These efforts must include training this and the next generation of scientists, practitioners, managers, entrepreneurs, and citizens.


The CRSI approach is science innovation and education for and with communities. Again, we define “communities” broadly as any collection of individuals, which could be organizations, companies, agencies, or politically or geographically defined areas or regions.

The CRSI supports interdisciplinary efforts that link mutually beneficial and equitable engagement with research and technical innovation that supports education, training, and workforce development.

CRSI acknowledges diverse perspectives and local knowledge systems, promotes collaboration and partnerships for innovation and entrepreneurship, and strives to co-produce knowledge through the co-learning that happens when we engage with communities to co-derive actionable solutions that advance the restoration, conservation, and transformation of their heritages.