Welcome to Sustainability and Resilience in Coastal Communities


Social sustainability implies an ability of society—and members of

society—to be resilient: socially, economically, and environmentally.  Yet communities are continually being impacted by outside forces such as globalisation, climate and environmental change, and governmental policies.

  • What makes resilient communities?
  • Over time, why does one community thrive, while another falters?
  • Is it possible to build resilience into communities which would make them less vulnerable to external changes?

This seminar provides a social sciences perspective on locality studies in coastal communities, regional development and disaster recovery.  The course should be of use to any student in the humanities and social sciences interested in resilience, sustainability, identity, and cultural heritage.

Course participants will be introduced to selected anthropological and social science theories and concepts such as social sustainability, resilience, cultural heritage, identity, and sense of place that will help in examining and parsing the culture and meaning underlying local development strategies in the face of outside impacts from, for example, globalization, environmental change, and natural disasters.

This seminar will examine two common recovery and development strategies of coastal communities and their members:

1.  New/old coastal economies: from traditional industries such as fishing and ship-building, to new ones such as seaweed harvesting, and offshore wind farms, and infrastructure construction.

2.  Tourism / Cultural Heritage: Cultural heritage can include, for example, traditional coastal knowledge and skills, land/sea-scapes, and marine architecture.  Such heritage is increasingly being used to increase tourism development in coastal areas.

Critical discussions of community, sense of place and cultural heritage and how these may foster or impair sustainability and resilience will take place in light of changes to coastal communities today, seen through select case studies and with the knowledge that different micro-cultures and groups will often have differing views on what is best for their own community.

Prerequisites: approved 2 month PhD study plan

Learning objectives: Developing the understanding, skills and competencies needed to prepare for and think about theories and methodologies that support analyses of community and development.  Learning outcomes will focus on particular research theories within particular traditions and 'schools of thought' especially those that embrace and have implications for not only cultural analysis, but also community development.   The course will introduce students to the concepts of resilience and sustainability. A second objective is to critically examine the theories and methods that shape efforts to use cultural heritage, sense of place, and identities today and how these impact contemporary coastal societies. 

Teaching methods: This course is designed as a seminar whereby participants shall reflect on different literature, relate the texts and presentations to their own research and experience, and actively participate in discussions.

Teaching methods will include working in smaller groups to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of case study strategies for development.

Criteria for assessment: Participants who wish to receive 5 ECTS points shall submit a 10 page (single spaced) paper 3 weeks following the close of the course.  The topic is to be developed with the instructor and related closely to the themes of the course

Tentative Proposed Key literature:

Aldrich, D. P. (2012), Building Resilience: Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Arnold, B.  “The Contested Past.” Anthropology Today 15 (1999): 1-4.

Right This Way:  Tourism and Presenting Cultural Heritage to the Public

Low, S.M. “Social Sustainability: People, History, and Values,” in Managing Change: Sustainable Approaches to the Conservation of the Built Environment, p. 47-64.

Massey, Doreen. 1993.  “Questions of Locality” Geography vol 78, no. 2

Nadel-Klein, J.  2003.  Fishing for Heritage: Modernity and Loss along the Scottish Coast.  New York: Berg Press.

Singh, Timothy, and Dowling.  1993.  Tourism in Destination Communities. Oxford: CABI International.

Timothy, D.J.,  “Introduction,” in Managing Heritage and Cultural Tourism Resources.  Critical Essays, Vol. I. p. xi-xxv.

Vallance, S., Perkins, H.C., and Dixon, J.E. (2011), “What is social sustainability? A clarification of concepts.” In Geoforum, 42: 342–348.

Organizer and lecturer: Associate Professor Alyne Delaney, e-mail:  ad@ifm.aau.dk

ECTS: 2 (5 with paper)

Time: November 29-30, 2016

Place:  Aalborg University, Skibbrogade 5, room Skb5 B1-18, 9000 Aalborg

Number of seats: 15

Deadline:  October 1, 2016

Important information concerning PhD courses: We have over some time experienced problems with no-show for both project and general courses. It has now reached a point where we are forced to take action. Therefore, the Doctoral School has decided to introduce a no-show fee of DKK 5,000 for each course where the student does not show up. Cancellations are accepted no later than 2 weeks before start of the course. Registered illness is of course an acceptable reason for not showing up on those days. Furthermore, all courses open for registration approximately three months before start. This can hopefully also provide new students a chance to register for courses during the year. We look forward to your registrations.