Social Dynamics in Coastal and Marine Areas

About us

The research group

The research group Social Dynamics in Coastal and Marine Areas deals with human-environment relations in maritime regions. We investigate the impacts of climate change, resource conflicts, maritime border regimes (Mediterranean) and other negotiation processes around coasts and seas utilising perspectives of political ecology, environmental justice, critical social theories and postcolonial approaches.


What is Marine Social Science?

The sea has become increasingly important to humankind through the manifold use of marine resources. At the same time, the human influence on the condition and sustainable development of the sea and coasts is growing, including the various effects of climate change. Marine Social Sciences are an innovative research field in the making. It focusses on human-ocean relations and entanglements, conflicts and phenomena related to the coast and the sea utilising approaches from the social sciences and humanities. Today, interdisciplinary research groups in this field are establishing themselves worldwide. Their aim is to adequately examine the complexity of environmental crisis and other issues in the area of coasts and seas. This also includes inter- and transdisciplinary work with colleagues from physical geography and the natural and life sciences as well as the involvement of non-academic actors.


Which questions does the research group deal with?

We are mainly concerned with the political ecology of environmental crisis. Central questions of our work touch on different cultures and policies around the sea and nature. An example from coastal protection: What does sustainable coastal protection mean? Large dams and stone groynes or the revitalization of dunes? Who has the right to be consulted in these decisions and why? What are the different ideas of regulation and the future of coastal protection? What are the possible consequences?

Furthermore, we ask how the divide between nature/culture/politics can be bridged in our work on various environmental problems and what this means for our scientific/social/political handling of them. What role do political conflicts of interest play, e.g. between economic development and coastal protection? How can we shape our human-ocean relations in the Anthropocene in such a way that we do not "cut the ground from under our feet"?