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16,000 acre research reserve will be the site of a new institute for CCU students

Coastal Carolina University and Francis Marion University have entered into an agreement recently with the Belle W. Baruch Foundation to create the Belle W. Baruch Institute for South Carolina Studies at Hobcaw Barony, a 16,000-acre research reserve located near Georgetown.
Coastal Carolina University and Francis Marion University have entered into an agreement recently with the Belle W. Baruch Foundation to create the Belle W. Baruch Institute for South Carolina Studies at Hobcaw Barony, a 16,000-acre research reserve located near Georgetown. Courtesy Hobcaw Barony, CCU

Coastal Carolina University students and faculty will soon have the opportunity to expand their research to a 16,000 acre property nestled on the coast near Georgetown.

CCU and Francis Marion University recently entered into an agreement with the Belle W. Baruch Foundation to create the Belle W. Baruch Institute for South Carolina Studies at Hobcaw Barony, according to a news release from CCU.

Once the institute is created, it will offer students and faculty at both universities the opportunity to “engage in the study of the cultural and historical heritage of South Carolina with an emphasis on the relationship between humans and the coastal environment that has shaped our shared heritage,” the release states.

Hobcaw Barony is a privately owned research reserve on the Waccamaw Neck that has previously been used as a site for research in marine biology and forestry.

But it also serves as a historical site — which adds potential to its use for research in the humanities. The property includes Native American sites, Colonial-era sites and antebellum slave quarters later used by freedmen after the Civil War, school officials said.

“The two universities, and eventually research partners from other academic institutions, expect scholars to engage in research in history, archaeology, political science, sociology and more,” the release says.

George Chastain, executive director of the Belle Baruch Foundation, said the new institute is a next step in the development of Hobcaw Barony as a center for research in the state.

“The foundation has worked with our university partners for decades to better understand our unique ecology through research at Hobcaw Barony,” Chastain said in the release. “Now, with the creation of this new institute, resources will be available to explore the relationship of man to the environment through studying the 6,000 years of human occupation at this special site. We are truly excited to have Coastal Carolina and Francis Marion join in our work at Hobcaw Barony.”

The institute will be governed by a three-member board comprised of the presidents of CCU and FMU and the executive director of the Belle Baruch Foundation.

“We look forward to collaborating with Francis Marion University and the Belle Baruch Foundation on projects related to the unique and magnificent Hobcaw property,” said CCU President David A. DeCenzo in the release. “This joint agreement will open an important new chapter in the research and teaching capacities of our institutions.”

Michaela Broyles: 843-626-0281, @MichaelaBroyles

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