Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Transforming Realities: integrated coastal zone management, sustainability, and connective aesthetics
Tanja Geis
2nd Author
3rd Author
Masters of Resource Management (MRM) in Marine and Coastal Management
Number of Pages
University Centre of the Westfjords, University of Akureyri
Thesis Supervisor
Alan Boldon
Supervisor e-mail
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Marine and Coastal Management
Languages Familiar to Author
English, German
URL where full thesis can be found
art, connective art, connective aesthetics, relational art, environment, sustainability, environmental management, integrated coastal zone management, systems thinking, stakeholder participation
Abstract: 200-500 words
Current integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) initiatives often do not fulfil their goal of sustainable and holistic management of the coastal and marine environment. Recent literature suggests that a possible reason for this failure lies in the multi-stakeholder participation process. Multi-stakeholder participation in decision making, now standard best practice in environmental management, is believed to produce more sustainable decision outcomes. Yet this assumes that participants enter the process with, or through it acquire, a full understanding of the meaning and implications of sustainability and, having attained such understanding, will then go on to collectively arise at sustainable decisions. Yet, for most of us educated in the west, to truly grasp such an understanding of the world requires a transformation in our very view of reality from one based on reductionism and the legacy of Descartes to one more in line with complex systems theory. I propose that introducing certain art practices into the ICZM participation process may help stakeholders undergo such a transformation. To this end I ask the following: Can connective aesthetics contribute to the sustainability objective of ICZM through the multi-stakeholder participation process? If so, what is the nature of its contribution? Connective art can generally be defined as the creation of a space apart from institutional frameworks, in which meaning and knowledge are generated through transdisciplinary collaboration and direct engagement between people and the nonhuman environment; and which is guided by an intent, directly or through vision, to effect positive change. Such art shares many of the same principles outlined in ICZM participation best practice literature, yet goes further to introduce qualities of engagement not generally associated with ICZM participation forums. These include an unconventional space, experimentation and play, creative framing of issues and questions, attendance to emotions and feelings, imaginative visioning, direct interaction with the non-human environment, and two-way dialogue between participants and the non-human environment. I suggest that these conditions, by encouraging reflexive consideration of prevailing social, political and economic paradigms and our role within them, can generate a collectively realized and contextualised redefinition of reality, more in keeping with ICZM’s goals of holism and sustainability.