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SC Sea Grant Consortium
287 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29401
p: 843.953.2078
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Our Coastal Future Forum

Our Coastal Future Furom logo

team meetingIn coastal South Carolina change is happening and it is happening fast. With large numbers of people moving to the coast, rising sea levels, and a growing energy industry, South Carolina’s decision makers are tasked with creating policies concerning these burgeoning issues. Lack of communication between scientists, local decision-makers and the public sometimes causes misunderstandings and divisive opinions amongst coastal South Carolina’s diverse group of stakeholders. This, in turn, may cause inaction from our decision-makers. So how do you go about discussing these important and sometimes sensitive topics?

Who We Are

The Forum is a collaborative research effort between researchers at the College of Charleston and the University of Oklahoma working with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and scientists at the University of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University, SC Department of Natural Resources and the College of Charleston. This partnership is to explore a new process to include citizens, natural resource managers, scientists and government officials in a supportive setting to discuss the coastal future of South Carolina.


small meeting groupOur plan is to use deliberative discussion to bridge the sometimes opposing opinions on environmental issues facing coastal South Carolinans. Deliberative discussion is a tool that has been used worldwide to address a range of controversial problems, from how to make Australia’s government more democratic to whether Texans want their state to focus on wind-energy development. It is a model of public decision-making based on open, respectful and well-informed discussion, with the aim of producing a thoughtful decision. Most importantly, deliberation means that all participants will get an equal opportunity to speak and be heard. Deliberative discussion has been used in a wide range of settings to help citizens, experts and public officials have respectful, productive discussions – and has often yielded thoughtful decisions and left participants feeling satisfied with both the process and the outcome.

Our Strategy

Our first activity is to survey a representative sample of coastal South Carolinians. The survey will focus on residents’ awareness and understanding of important coastal issues. We will ask questions about points-of-view and values. Many of the participants, along with decision-makers and public managers, will be invited to participate in Our Coastal Future Forum (OCFF).

Project Timeline   (LARGER VERSION      

Deliberative Discussion process overview chart

This forum will be a two-day event held in Charleston, SC, and will include presentations by experts on these important issues. Following the presentations, participants will break out into small groups to discuss how these issues can be addressed or resolved. After the event, participants will take a follow-up survey to note whether their views were affected or if they felt better informed. This will provide decision-makers with an improved understanding of their constituents’ priorities and needs. Solving these problems will help us learn about the information and processes needed for public deliberation of coastal issues.


The researchers will begin the initial statewide survey in Spring 2017. We plan to hold our deliberative event on October 20 and 21, 2017. For more details, view our event flyer. If you are interested in participating contact Stacey Weinstock or Lee Bundrick at 843-953-2081 or email  

Last updated: 7/20/2017 11:20:31 AM
Our Coastal Future Forum


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