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2010 Kanawha faculty and students at training workshop
Loraine McCosker

1804 Fund Initiates New Phase of Kanawha Project

Ashley Anderson
October 7, 2013

Nancy Manring and Lorain McCosker are no strangers to winning grants, but that doesn't make their latest success, a nearly $20,000 1804 Fund grant, any less impressive.

The 1804 Fund, which awarded nearly $500,000 this year to 15 winning research proposals, will fund Manring, Associate Professor of Political Science, and McCosker, Outreach Coordinator, Advisor and Instructor for the Environmental Studies Program, to continue their successful Kanawah Environmental Education Project. Manring also will be creating a new class on climate change as part of her recent receipt of the prestigious University Professorship Award.

The Kanawha Project brings together a cohort of faculty from a variety of disciplines and introduces them to environmental sustainability topics through a series of workshops and monthly dialogues. The goal for Kanawha is to help professors "weave environmental sustainability themes through their syllabi." This year the Kanawha Project will focus specifically on climate change.

The structure of the program was based on a model embraced at a number of universities throughout the country, and, in particular, the Piedmont Project, implemented in 2001 at Emory University. The Kanawha Project provides an efficient model of professional development and curriculum enhancement," said Manring.

The name "Kanawha," (pronounced ka-nah) comes from the Native American name of the physiographic, or geographic, region surrounding Athens.

"We decided on the name Kanawha because so much of our research as to do with the physiological place," said Manring. "We're looking at what is within this region."

The project started after a successful 1804 Fund grant proposal in 2007 by team members Manring and Michele Morrone as an initiative in the Environmental Studies Program through a partnership between the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences. The project continued when the duo, joined by McCosker, applied for a 2-year grant with the Ohio EPA, allowing them to extend the program to the five Ohio University regional campuses. In 2010 a second 1804 grant enabled Kanawha to grow, and add 7 undergraduate research scholars, who made tangible contributions to the program.

The student-faculty relationships that developed were very rewarding for all," said Manring. "The students were very knowledgeable about sustainability; they collaborated with faculty on their syllabus revisions."

Manring and McCosker contribute much of Kanawha's success to participants' genuine enjoyment of the program that ranged widely across disciplines.

"One thing we found was that faculty really enjoyed participating. Typically we provided dinner, and musicians would come in and play songs related to environmental topics such as coal mining. The faculty had a chance to get outside and go hiking, meander in streams, and visit places," said McCosker. "They really enjoyed learning and making relationships outside of their discipline."

After four successful years of the program, Manring and McCosker took a break to evaluate the project and focus on the goals for the project in the future. In 2012 they saw an opportunity to utilize the Kanawha model to contribute to the implementation of the Ohio University Climate Action Plan.

"Given that climate change is occurring much more rapidly than most of the models had predicted, there is a growing sense that we need to develop understanding," said Manring. "Future implementation of the OU Climate Action Plan became, in many ways, the platform for Kanawha."

The new proposal, titled "Advancing Carbon Neutrality: Using the Kanawha Model to Facilitate Climate Change Literacy" called for a 2-year grant, which will include two cohorts of 15 faculty members and 5 undergraduate scholars.

This year the Kanawha project will demonstrate its theme on climate change through collaboration with University College and the Common Experience Project (CEP) as a way to support the benchmarks of the sustainability plan.

"I'm thrilled to work with faculty in a new phase of the Kanawha project focusing on climate change," said McCosker. "Given the acceleration of climate change, it is our ethical duty to address climate change in the curriculum."

The Kanawha Project is currently recruiting faculty members and undergraduate scholars for this year's cohort. For more information please contact Nancy Manring (manring@ohio.edu) or Loraine McCosker (mccosker@ohio.edu).