Building resilience in coastal governance: ethics and justice in responsible innovation


Building resilience in coastal governance: ethics and justice in responsible innovation


Project Description


Dr Joanna Forster, School of International Development, University of East Anglia

Coastal zones are some of the most vulnerable areas to impacts from climate change in the UK, and some areas are already affected by sea level rise, erosion, storm surges and flooding. Innovative and strategic approaches to coastal management are urgently needed (CCC, 2018), but the introduction of these approaches raises contentious issues (O’Riordan et al. 2014) for coastal managers and policy makers.

This project aims to address these issues by bringing data from the natural sciences to bear on our understanding of social change and its implications for environmental justice, using the sandscaping project (Vikolainen et al. 2017) at Bacton and Walcott, the first of its kind in the UK, as a case study (

The student will use a combination of critical literature review, geomorphological modelling, interviews, and existing data, to answer the following questions:

1) Does this innovation in coastal management encompass environmental justice? How?

2) How do communities affected by innovative coastal management perceive environmental justice? Do perceptions vary over time?

3) Which participatory appraisal methods enable constructive discussions with communities around coastal management innovation?

4) Which lessons can be drawn for improved engagement by communities with innovative coastal management approaches in the future?

The project provides a unique opportunity to study and train in deeply interdisciplinary, timely and policy-relevant social and ecological environmental research. The successful candidate will gain highly transferable research skills spanning the natural and social sciences (e.g. mixed methods, engaging with community and other stakeholders, analysing modelling data and developing novel methods for future scenarios), and will work with social and natural scientists in UEA’s world-leading Schools of International Development and Environmental Sciences, and with North Norfolk District Council.

Person Specification

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in natural or social sciences, environmental sciences or a related subject (e.g. geography, marine sciences).


  • 1. Committee on Climate Change (CCC) (2018) Managing the coast in a changing climate. CCC, London.
  • 2. O’Riordan et al. (2014) The difficulties of designing future coastlines in the face of climate change. Landscape Research 39(6): 613-630.
  • 3. Vikolainen et al. (2017) Governance context for coastal innovations in England: The case of Sandscaping in North Norfolk. Ocean & Coastal Management, 45: 82-93.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award.
  • Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area (see
  • This studentship will start on 1st October 2020, and the closing date for applications is 23:59 on 15th January 2020.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 18/19 February 2020.
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor.
  • Please note that the joint NERC-ESRC ARIES-SeNSS studentship projects have different deadlines and funding arrangements. For full details please visit, or contact

Further Information

This studentship has been shortlisted for joint funding by the SeNSS ESRC DTP and ARIES NERC DTP. The successful candidate will receive a studentship of 3.5-4 years (depending on training needs) that will cover tuition fees, up to £5,000 to cover research costs, and, if eligible, a stipend of at least £15,009 per year. For eligibility rules, see Application deadline: Midday on 20 January 2020

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