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Articles and Book Chapters

Below is a list of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters published by researchers, stakeholders, students, and other project participants about the DIPP and associated research projects.  To request a copy of one of the below publications, please email us.

Christina Prell, Christine Miller Hesed, Katherine Johnson, Michael Paolisso, Jose Daniel Teodoro, Elizabeth Van Dolah (Field Methods, 2021)

ABSTRACT:  Participatory research engages a transdisciplinary team of stakeholders in all aspects of the research process. Such engagement can lead to shifts in the research design, as well as who is considered a participant. We detail our experiences of studying an evolving stakeholder network in the context of a 2.5-year transdisciplinary, participatory project. We show how participation leads to shifts in the network boundary overtime and how a transdisciplinary effort was needed to retrospectively redefine the network boundary. Through tacking back and forth between ethnographic insights, research aims, and modeling assumptions, the team eventually reached agreement on what determined network membership and how to code network members according to their timing and level of participation. Our account advances literature on boundary and modeling approaches to shifting, evolving networks by demonstrating how participatory transdisciplinarity can be both a driver of, and solution to, capturing the complexity of evolving networks.

Elizabeth R. Van Dolah, Christine D. Miller Hesed, Michael J. Paolisso (Wetlands, 2020)

ABSTRACT:  Coastal regions worldwide will be dramatically reshaped by the impacts of sea-level rise. Of particular concern are impacts on coastal wetlands, the loss of which would have consequences for both human and ecological communities. The future of many coastal wetlands will depend greatly on their capacities to migrate into uplands. Coastal resilience work within wetland sciences has increasingly focused on developing strategies to promote marsh migration into rural uplands; however, less attention has been given to the impacts that migrating marshes have on people in these landscapes. In this paper, we share rural perspectives and experiences with marsh migration through three case-studies from collaborative research with rural, low-lying communities on the Chesapeake Bay, USA. These case-studies demonstrate the complexities of the challenges facing rural communities as a result of marsh migration, and reveal important issues of equity and injustice that need attention in future coastal resilience work. We draw upon a socio-ecological systems (SES) approach to highlight potential human-ecological misalignments that emerge with marsh migration and to offer future research questions to inform socially-just and resilient wetland migration planning in rural coastal areas.

Engaging Faith Communities for Coastal Resilience: Lessons from Collaborative Learning on the Chesapeake Bay

Christine Miller Hesed, Elizabeth Van Dolah, Michael Paolisso (Climatic Change, 2019)

ABSTRACT:  Rural coastal areas are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. In the USA, much energy is devoted to conserving rural coastal ecosystems by promoting their adaptation to climate change. However, these areas are also home to vulnerable and underserved communities who can be challenging to engage in climate adaptation discussions. Churches—as trusted social institutions—may offer a structure through which government decision-makers and rural residents can engage to improve the resilience of these rural coastal regions. We employed collaborative learning to engage government decision-makers and rural church members on the topic of climate impacts on Maryland’s Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. We analyzed the collaborative learning process and its outcomes using ethnographic methods. In this paper, we present our approach and discuss the benefits and challenges of collaborative learning with rural churches. We found that this approach yielded major benefits including greater understanding of capacities and limitations in addressing environmental challenges, increased trust and social networks, expanded engagement with a greater diversity of stakeholders, increased opportunities for new conversations, new pathways toward interventions, and stakeholder empowerment. Collaborating with churches is not without challenges though; it requires considerable time and effort and presents difficulties in navigating social hierarchies and specialized language, identifying common goals, grappling with the newness of climate change, and overcoming institutional barriers. Despite these challenges, we conclude that collaborative learning with churches is a valuable approach for information exchange and network-building toward more resilient rural coasts.

Michael Paolisso, Christina Prell, Katherine J. Johnson, Brian Needelman, Ibraheem M. P. Khan, Klaus Hubacek (Socio-ecological Practice Research, 2019)

ABSTRACT: Collaborative science brings together diverse stakeholders to share knowledge and form networks that in turn can be foundational to policies and practices to increase socio-ecological resilience. In this article, we present results from a collaborative science project that employed collaborative learning methods to develop a network of local, regional, state and academic stakeholders. These stakeholders had little social interaction prior to the project and represented a diversity of views, positions and responsibilities. They shared in common a concern for the effects of climate change on a coastal socio-ecological system and the desire to reduce vulnerabilities and enhance resilience. Through ethnographic and survey methods, we found that collaborative science and learning promoted the exchange of cultural and environmental knowledge and expertise among individuals who previously had no sustained interaction. Stakeholders perceived these exchanges as worthwhile in that they allowed individuals to express viewpoints and share knowledge and expertise, which was seen to have the potential to increase socio-ecological resilience. Our results suggest that social networks can emerge from collaborative science and learning projects and can become formally organized and help foster opportunities to enhance socio-ecological resilience.

Elizabeth R. Van Dolah (PhD Dissertation, University of Maryland, 2018)

ABSTRACT: This dissertation seeks to ethnographically understand the role of cultural heritage in climate change adaptation decision-making, and the mechanisms by which heritage is used to shape adaptation pathways for responding to climate-induced socio-ecological changes. Cultural heritage can broadly be understood as the practice of engaging with change through an ongoing social processing of the past. Research on cultural heritage to date has demonstrated the ways that heritage is closely linked to issues of identity, power, and sociocultural processes of change (Lafrenz Samuels 2018). In the context of climate change adaptation, heritage research has much to offer to a growing body of literature that points to the need to better understand the underlying sociocultural factors that affect social resilience and human adaptation (Cote and Nightingale 2012). This dissertation speaks to these calls in approaching heritage as a mechanism for carving climate change adaptation pathways. I explore the role of heritage as an adaptation pathway in the context of a collaborative adaptation planning project called the Integrated Coastal Resiliency Assessment (ICRA), which was carried out on the Deal Island Peninsula, a rural, low-lying area on the Maryland eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I utilize qualitative methods in semi-structured interviewing, participant observation, and text analysis to ethnographically elucidate a range of heritage threads and to analyze how these threads shape collaborative adaptation decision-making through the ICRA process. Findings from this research identify three overarching heritage themes that are embedded in local Methodist traditions, traditional watermen livelihood practices, and histories of isolation and independence. I demonstrate how these threads are used to frame local understandings of socio-ecological change and climate change vulnerabilities on the Deal Island Peninsula. I also demonstrate how broader heritage deployments in the Chesapeake Bay shape local experiences of vulnerability through processes of disempowerment. I conclude with a discussion of how heritage is integrated into the ICRA process to facilitate a bottom-up decision-making process that re-empowers local actors in governing their own vulnerabilities. The main conclusion from this research points to the importance of considering heritage mobilization in climate change adaptation planning.

Katherine J. Johnson, Michael Paolisso, Christine Feurt (The International Journal on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, 2018)

ABSTRACT: Anticipated impacts from climate change act as stressors that motivate adaptation strategy development. And, while climate science projections extend from the global to regional scale, they can leave significant uncertainty at the local scale. In many jurisdictions, governance and environmental management professionals formulate and distribute information to guide climate change policy and preparation. In many rural or otherwise marginalized areas, however, relationships needed to promote clear understanding of impacts and to tackle cooperative adaptation planning alongside residents are lacking. This paper discusses methods used by an interdisciplinary group of scientists to help a small community of rural coastal U.S. residents enhance their climate resilience. This was accomplished via participatory collaborative science and collaborative learning processes that facilitated relationships of trust among a broad group of stakeholders. Data gathered from our network and analyses of project activities show the benefits of collaboration across a social network representing the social-ecological system. The success of our efforts is evident in five ways: a) in localized application of climate and environmental knowledge, b) in building two-way knowledge across the local/ non-local divide, c) in incorporating local community values, d) developing trust between residents, scientists, and environmental governance and management professionals, and c) in lessons learned transitioning from a learning to decision making process. We strongly advocate those working with local groups on adaptation planning efforts begin with methods that help build knowledge, respect, trust, and capacity amongst residents.

Heritage Conversations: Engaging with Coastal Communities through a Cemetery Mapping Project

Sarah Hartge (Practicing Anthropology, 2017)

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses a project focused on building a virtual cemetery for a coastal community. Located on the Chesapeake Bay where the marshes are migrating and the water is rising, the communities of the Deal Island peninsula center on their religious institutions and many consider those who have passed on to be still part of their congregations. Through mapping a cemetery and gathering stories and photographs to publish online, I created a resource for the Rock Creek United Methodist Church and other area institutions to use to engage with their heritage, both past and present. In addition to building a heritage resource that would serve its community, I also sought to understand heritage outside of the academic setting and examine how a project like this one can build connections between the past and the present.

Lisa Wainger, Anna McMurray, Michael Paolisso, Katherine J. Johnson, Brian Needelman (Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 2017)

ABSTRACT: A qualitative ranking method, Q methodology, was used to assess stakeholder priorities for socioecological services derived from coastal marshes and communities. The goal was to reveal strength of concerns for and tradeoffs among effects of coastal resilience strategies. Factor analysis identified three perspectives that formed a spectrum from high to low priorities on intangible services. Academic and government stakeholders were more likely than local residents to prioritize intangible services, but stakeholder views were diverse. A collaborative learning process promoted some alignment of views and academics showed the most movement – towards residents’ perspectives. Q-sort appeared effective at efficiently synthesizing broad concerns.

Katherine J. Johnson, Michael Paolisso, Brian Needelman (In Responses to Disasters and Climate Change: Understanding Vulnerability and Fostering Resilience, 2017)

ABSTRACT: not available

Resilience to Climate Change: An Ethnographic Approach

Katherine J. Johnson (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Maryland 2016)

ABSTRACT: Global projections for climate change impacts produce a startling picture of the future for low-lying coastal communities. The United States’ Chesapeake Bay region and especially marginalized and rural communities will be severely impacted by sea level rise and other changes over the next one hundred years. The concept of resilience has been theorized as a measure of social-ecological system health and as a unifying framework under which people can work together towards climate change adaptation. But it has also been critiqued for the way in which it does not adequately take into account local perspective and experiences, bringing into question the value of this concept as a tool for local communities. We must be sure that the concerns, weaknesses, and strengths of particular local communities are part of the climate change adaptation, decision-making, and planning process in which communities participate. An example of this type of planning process is the Deal Island Marsh and Community Project (DIMCP), a grant funded initiative to build resilience within marsh ecosystems and communities of the Deal Island Peninsula area of Maryland (USA) to environmental and social impacts from climate change. I argue it is important to have well-developed understandings of vulnerabilities and resiliencies identified by local residents and others to accomplish this type of work. This dissertation explores vulnerability and resilience to climate change using an engaged and ethnographic anthropological perspective. Utilizing participant observation, semi-structured and structured interviews, text analysis, and cultural domain analysis I produce an in-depth perspective of what vulnerability and resilience means to the DIMCP stakeholder network. Findings highlight significant vulnerabilities and resiliencies inherent in the local area and how these interface with additional vulnerabilities and resiliencies seen from a nonlocal perspective. I conclude that vulnerability and resilience are highly dynamic and context-specific for the local community. Vulnerabilities relate to climate change and other social and environmental changes. Resilience is a long-standing way of life, not a new concept related specifically to climate change. This ethnographic insight into vulnerability and resilience provides a basis for stronger engagement in collaboration and planning for the future.

Michael Paolisso and Andrew Webster (Chesapeake Quarterly, 2016)

ABSTRACT: not available

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