2022 2022: Bringing researchers together to solve socio-economic issues through "coastal literacy"
Bringing researchers together to solve socio-economic issues through "coastal literacy"

Associate Professor Gavin Fay awarded $149,000 planning grant to host collaborative research workshops to examine coastal resiliency holistically

When decisions and policies are made in coastal communities, the connections between coastal resources and local economies are often overlooked. As part of the National Science Foundation's Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks (SRS RNs) program, Associate Professor Gavin Fay will bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers and community stakeholders for participatory scenario planning and systems diagramming to address socio-environmental challenges in Massachusetts near-shore communities. The solutions envisioned by Fay include building up "coastal literacy" in systems-thinking amongst decision-makers in coastal communities and a collaborative research network to encourage self-sustaining solutions.

"Marine and near-shore ecosystems are important parts of coastal communities' economy and cultural identity," said Fay. "Our research will leverage environmental and social data to consider the benefits of integrative solutions and engage communities and coastal stakeholders who do not normally have a voice in solutions and decisions to derive actionable outcomes."

A diverse group of stakeholders, including individuals from the fishing and offshore renewable energy industries, higher education research institutions, policymakers, and nonprofit organizations, will participate to surface local knowledge and needs, identify research questions, and outline methodologies to solve current issues and plan for future ones. As a model for the remainder of the planning grant activities, the project team has engaged in scenario planning exercises to build a common understanding within the nascent network. Eventually, the research network will be a replicable and scalable model that can be utilized in other coastal areas across the globe.

This project will also create a professional learning community for K-12 teachers to develop a curriculum associated with coastal literacy related to community-relevant issues in Massachusetts, providing a more inclusive approach to possible solutions for a sustainable future.