(2016-2019) Sustainability Transitions in the Coastal Zone (Research network)


C. Patrick Heidkamp, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of the Environment, Geography & Marine Sciences, Southern Connecticut State University, CT, USA. Heidkampc1@southernct.edu
Dr. John Morrissey, Lecturer in Enviromental Geography, School of Natural Sciences and Psychology; Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK. J.E.Morrissey@ljmu.ac.uk
Dr. Catherine Chambers, Coastal and Marine Management Masters Program, University Centre of the Westfjords, Iceland. cat@uw.is


Coastal areas, despite only occupying a relatively small percentage of the Earth's land-surface, provide more than one third of the globe's value of ecosystem services. Coastal areas are also increasingly at risk due to changing environmental conditions as well as human development pressures. These factors, coupled with the large-scale failure of contemporary governance approaches to direct development to more sustainable outcomes, present stark challenges for coastal stakeholders. Nowhere is this clearer than in contested coastal zones, where intense demand on coastal resources sits uneasily with stewardship, habitat protection and natural resource maintenance imperatives. Coastal zones represent a frontline in the battle for sustainability, as coastal communities face unprecedented economic challenges while coastal ecosystems are subject to overuse, loss of resilience and increased vulnerability.

In is the aim of this research network to interrogate sustainability challenges in the coastal zone from the perspective of the emerging field of socio-technical transitions (SST) research. While studies of socio-technical transitions frequently consider local contexts, the spatial dimension in general has been poorly elaborated in STT research.  Much contemporary discussion of transition is either aspatial or based on implicit assumptions about spatial homogeneity, with comparatively little attention to how policy proposals might work in an unevenly developed world. 

The Regional Studies Association Research Network on Sustainability Transitions in the Coastal Zone aims to address these limitations through an examination of socio technological transitions with an explicitly spatial focus in the context of the coastal zone. Four meetings are planned, which will seek to initiate and foster debate, insight and critical thinking in this space in an incremental and step-wise manner.

Event No. Date Location


Review of Coastal Issues and the Conceptual Basis for Transitions 

19th - 21st January 2017 University Centre of the Westfjords, Ísafjörður, Iceland 


Food-Energy-Transportation Systems Transitions

7th - 9th September 2017 Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool UK 


Governance and Sustainability Citizenship in the Coastal Zone

8th - 10th March 2018  Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT, USA 


Activating Real Coastal Transitions

13th -14th September 2018  Skálanes Field Research Centre, Seyðisfjörður, Iceland 


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