Sustainability research from App State helps neighborhoods prepare for extreme weather events

Researchers at Appalachian State University have teamed up with AT&T to provide climate data that could help at-risk neighborhoods prepare for extreme weather events. 

The researchers are: Professor of Accounting and Sustainable Business, Dr. Tammy Kowalczyk; Dr. Dennis Gilfillan, Research Scholar, Research Institute for Environment, Energy, & Economics; Dr. Maureen MacNamara, Associate Professor of Social Work; Dr. Maggie Sugg, Associate Professor of Geography and Planning; and Dr. Elizabeth Shay, Associate Professor of Geography and Planning. 

Read the multidisciplinary team's findings: Assessing Climate Risk and Resiliency in Rural Appalachia

The researchers contrasted national data with hyperlocal information, finding that while flooding, landslides and wildfires pose threats in rural western North Carolina, the region has less cellular and data coverage for early response to natural disasters, fewer mitigation policies in place, and less capacity for fire, police and emergency management expenditures.

The study also noted that poor rural and underserved communities in Appalachia often lack a voice in regulation setting and planning and have been marginalized within climate change initiatives.

Moving forward, climate vulnerability, exposure and resilience must be assessed in terms of the socio-economic disparity and actual experience of the people living and working within each community.

The research is a result of AT&T's Climate Resiliency Community Challenge, which aims to help communities in the southeastern United States build resilience to climate change. It is part of AT&T’s wider efforts -- the Climate Resiliency Project -- to evaluate and address the risks of climate change nationally.

App State was one of five universities in the Southeast, and the only North Carolina institution, to participate and receive grant funding from AT&T.

About Sustainable Business at Appalachian

Appalachian’s Walker College of Business is committed to advancing sustainable business practices that promote responsible management of economic, social and natural resources. The theory and practice of sustainable business recognizes that the economy, environment and society (the triple bottom line) are interconnected and interdependent, and strives to enhance the business model so that it can flourish and thrive to benefit future generations. The college offers a sustainable business minor available to business and nonbusiness majors, a bachelor’s degree in environmental economics and policy, and an MBA concentration in sustainable business. The programs focus on student engagement, research and community involvement. For more information, visit

A cyclist crosses a flooded New River on foot, bike in hand.
Published: Mar 29, 2021 9:36am