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Irish Seas Project

The Cultural Value of Coastlines:

Assessing the Cultural Influences and Impacts of Ecosystem Change on the Irish Sea Coasts


Professor John Brannigan, UCD School of English, Drama and Film

Professor Tasman Crowe, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science

Project Description:

The Cultural Value of Coastlines is a two-year interdisciplinary research project funded by the Irish Research Council to investigate the cultural influences and impacts of ecosystem change on the Irish Sea coasts. The project team consists of the two co-directors and two postdoctoral fellows, and involves archival and field research, as well as knowledge exchange with coastal communities.

The project will address three key research questions:

  • How do coastal and marine environments contribute cultural benefits to coastal communities?
  • How is the cultural value of coastal and marine environments dependent upon ecosystem functions and conditions, and what changes have happened and might happen to this relationship?
  • How can the cultural benefits of coastal and maritime environments be assessed effectively so as to contribute directly to marine spatial planning, cultural heritage management, and sustainability governance?

Project Context:

Coasts are dynamic social-ecological systems. They are at the interface of global climate challenges (e.g. increased intensity of storm events and sea level rise) and global societal challenges (e.g. migration and energy production). The role of culture (aesthetics, heritage, sense of place and identity) in determining human uses and values of the sea and coastlines, and the effects upon culture of changes to marine and coastal environments, are major gaps in current social-ecological research. This project brings together environmental humanities, ecological sciences, and ecosystem assessment, together with stakeholder groups, to evaluate and understand the cultural and historical value of the sea and coastlines to coastal communities in the Irish Sea.

The Cultural Value of Coastlines builds upon collaboration between UCD Humanities Institute, UCD Earth Institute, and the National Maritime Museum of Ireland over several years.

To listen to our free podcast series on the cultures, histories and ecologies of the sea and coasts, please visit the links below:

Women and the Sea: Culture, History, Industry, Science

The Irish Sea: History, Culture, Ecology

The Literatures and Cultures of the Irish Sea