Interdisciplinary skills for equitable climate adaptation in social-ecological systems

This short course, run by the Centre for Marine Socioecology, introduces graduate students and early career researchers to interdisciplinary research skills in the context of applied climate change adaptation and social equity in marine social-ecological systems. Throughout the week you will learn about both theory and practice relating to adaptation at a variety of scales and in different contexts. You will consider a range of related issues such as equity, trade-offs and conflict. We will use the lens of climate change adaptation to help you develop core professional competencies for becoming an interdisciplinary researcher. These skills could be applied in almost any research context, and so the course could be of interest to those working in research areas unconnected to adaptation or marine systems per se. The course will be delivered via a series of lectures, skill development sessions, group project work and a field trip. The central activity of the course will be developing a collaborative interdisciplinary project proposal in response to a real-world problem identified by representatives from various marine stakeholder groups including the state government, industry and NGO’s.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

Guest Presenter and Facilitator

Course Presenters:


Free for UTAS postgraduate students. $500 AUD for external students and ECR’s. Subsidised accommodation is also available if required for $500 for the week.


Scholarships for travel and accommodation may be available for Australian Indigenous postgraduate students. Please send enquiry email to the contact below by November 31st 2019 if interested.

For more information please contact

Dr Madeline Green, Executive Support & Research Development Officer, Centre for Marine Socioecology

Project outline and objectives:
This project will assess the value of resilience as a basis for governance arrangements for the use and protection of marine resources in Australia.

It will translate the principles and features of socio-ecological resilience to the features of legal systems, and develop specific criteria with which to evaluate how current frameworks for fisheries management and fisheries promote resilience.

This project will be the first major study to identify the aspects of resilience thinking of relevance to Australian environmental law, and to evaluate the current performance and potential of various environmental domains against resilience criteria.

The overarching objective of this project is to enhance Australian coastal and fisheries governance by embedding socio-ecological resilience into regulatory and regime design. This objective will be achieved through four specific project aims:
1. Formulating criteria for assessing the extent to which legal and governance arrangements promote socio-ecological system (SES) resilience;
2. Evaluating how well fisheries and coastal management regimes currently promote resilience and have potential to do so in the future;
3. Assessing drivers of, limitations and barriers to, greater adoption of resilience-based approaches in marine governance; and
4. Devising specific recommendations for improving the domains studied and general tools and recommendations on how Australian marine governance frameworks can better promote resilience.

Translating resilience thinking into legal management regimes requires in-depth assessment of specific domains of environmental governance and testing of resilience principles in those specific contexts. The project uses fisheries and coastal management as key focal domains. A specific case study will be selected for each domain, to give clear focus and definition to the analysis, for example a specific fishery and a specific coastal community.

Project outline and objectives:

Our oceans are threatened by climate change, over-fishing and a growing list of other impacts.

As a result, there is an urgent need for sustainable ocean management. Whilst marine conservation initiatives have increased over recent years, ocean management is slow to involve communities in its development. We use the term ‘social license to operate’ broadly in the terrestrial literature, but its understanding and use within the marine realm has been limited.

The aim of this project is to understand how social license can bridge communication gaps, and barriers, between the users of the ocean environment. Furthermore, it asks how we can improve our understanding of social license by applying it to the marine sector. In this project we will outline the value of social license. We will also summarise the potential of social license to enable the industry-community cooperation needed to share ocean resources sustainably. Social research case studies (national and international) will enable us to discover community understandings of ocean sustainability and social license of marine systems, including recreational fisheries and marine protected areas. We will also identify how engagement, knowledge and perceptions of marine realm management might be improved.

This research will attempt to link social license theory with citizen science.  It will do this to produce actual practical outcomes that may be applied in sustainable management. The project has considerable potential to produce novel, and influence future, theoretical understandings of social license and citizen science, and their application in the management and development of sustainable ocean use.

Project outline and objectives:

Community or public participation has become a central tenet in the practice and theory of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM).

In practice, however, participation is proving complex and is not necessarily living up to the promises of the ICZM literature.  In coastal governance, researchers and policy practitioners may be exacerbating the political tensions associated with participatory practice by adopting the norms of citizen participation “intuitively, vaguely or rhetorically” (Puente-Rodrigues 2014).

Coastal zone governance, in mature representative democracies at least, take place in a broader socio-political context in which existing institutions are unable to respond to citizen demands for greater power through participation. In the coastal zone literature, however, the problem is frequently case as a localised situation of undesirable conflict. This approach overlooks the significance of participation as a political act and expression of political agency for the citizen.

The tension between citizen representation through stakeholder engagement and the promise of direct citizen participation as political act to influence decision-making will be examined using the lens of political representation theory.

The objectives of this project are to:

University of TasmaniaInstitute of Marine and Antarctic StudiesCSIRO Department of the EnvironmentGEOS
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