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Six University Partners Selected for 2023 Envision Resilience New Bedford and Fairhaven Challenge that Calls on Students to Reimagine Buzzards Bay in the Face of Rising Seas

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. May 16, 2023 — Six university partners—including two from the University of Massachusetts system—have been selected for the third iteration of the Envision Resilience Challenge taking place in New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts, this fall as students develop innovative solutions for coastal communities to adapt to sea level rise.


The 2023 Envision Resilience New Bedford and Fairhaven Challenge participating universities are the Rhode Island School of Design, Northeastern University, the University of Florida, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the University of Virginia. The Envision Resilience Challenge, a semester-long design studio and community engagement initiative developed by ReMain Nantucket, connects interdisciplinary teams from leading universities with coastal communities to imagine resilient pathways in the face of climate change through adaptive design. Since its inception three years ago, the program has worked with more than 200 students from nine universities to serve the six coastal communities of Nantucket, Wickford, Warren, Providence, Aquidneck Island and Barrington.


“Year three of Envision Resilience builds on an ever-growing network of students, faculty, universities, leading practitioners and community members—all of whom have made it the transformational program that it has become,” said Cecil Barron Jensen, executive director of ReMain Nantucket. “We are thrilled to welcome both new and returning universities to this year’s design studio in New Bedford and Fairhaven and are grateful for the enthusiasm we have received from community leaders and stakeholders. It’s exciting to think about the myriad remarkable possible outcomes when you combine forward-thinking leadership with Envision’s talented student teams.”


Once the whaling capital of the world and now home to the highest-earning fishing port in the country, New Bedford and Fairhaven have long been defined by their connection to the water. Like coastal communities around the world, these seaport towns are facing rising sea levels, increasingly hotter temperatures and more frequent and intensifying storms. Envision Resilience students this year will once again be tasked with identifying threats, researching possible solutions and proposing out-of-the-box ways of living under future conditions that address issues of environment, housing, transportation, equity, local industry, ecology and resilience. A cohort of community advisors will serve as liaisons between the student teams and the communities so that outcomes reflect the values, cultures and needs of the people.


Each year, final designs of the Envision Resilience Challenge are presented to the community through a number of local events and a multi-month exhibition. To date, these designs have reimagined coastal edges and urban systems through nature-based solutions in vulnerable areas and regenerative systems in a post-carbon economy and explored new ways of living that embrace healthy, sustainable and equitable systems. From floating wharves and raised streetscapes to living, integrated shorelines and net-zero buildings that use hemp lime construction, the student work has inspired conversations on how local residents can work together to consider adaptive waterfronts and neighborhoods that benefit people, ecosystems, recreation and resilience. Click here to see designs from previous challenges in Nantucket and Narragansett Bay.


The final design proposals will be presented to the community in an exhibition set to open in Spring 2024. Carolyn Cox, director of the Florida Climate Institute will return as academic coordinator to the Envision Resilience Challenge, with Robert Miklos, founding principal of designLAB architects serving again as technical coordinator. Anjelica S. Gallegos, director of the Indigenous Society of Architecture, Planning and Design joins the Envision Resilience Challenge this year as an advisor. The South Coast community is encouraged to follow along and engage throughout the fall semester at


The Envision Resilience Challenge is a semester-long design studio, developed by ReMain Nantucket, that connects interdisciplinary teams from leading universities with coastal communities to envision adaptive and creative solutions to sea level rise. The challenge was introduced in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 2021 and moved to Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, in 2022. The third iteration of Envision Resilience will explore New Bedford and Fairhaven, Massachusetts in 2023. The Envision Resilience Challenge allows communities to engage in hopeful and meaningful conversations about the future, inspires real action in resilience projects and fosters the next generation of leaders to think interconnectedly and holistically about climate challenges through design and innovation.


ReMain Nantucket and ReMain Ventures are funded by Wendy Schmidt and her husband Eric to support the economic, social and environmental vitality of the island of Nantucket. In addition to ReMain Nantucket providing grants and sponsorships to support sustainable and cultural initiatives across the island, ReMain Nantucket has worked in conjunction with ReMain Ventures to revitalize the downtown district year-round through the preservation of historic buildings that are home to a mix of nonprofit and commercial businesses.



May 16, 2023

CONTACT: Claire Martin