Congratulations are in order for SMEA capstone alums Katy Dalton, Marlena Skrobe, Henry Bell, Benjamin Kantner, and Dave Berndtson, SMEA Professor Patrick Christie, and their Brazilian collaborators, including Dr. Leopoldo Gerhardinger, on their newly published paper “Marine-Related Learning Networks: Shifting the Paradigm Toward Collaborative Ocean Governance” published in Frontiers in Marine Science. The paper is a result of the first internationally-focused SMEA capstone, and the collaboration helps solidify connections between SMEA and Brazilian capstone counterparts who are fostering large and impactful learning networks there.
The paper is an example of rigorous application of qualitative research methods and is based on semi-structured interview data from 40 key informants representing 16 different networks. For Professor Christie “This study demonstrates that learning networks represent a novel and equitable means of diffusing information and creating widespread public support for sustainable ocean policies.”
The authors touched on why this work was important in the paper’s Contribution to the Field statement; “Current challenges involving interactions between humans and their coastal and marine environments present far-reaching problems that demand equitable, collaborative, adaptable governance approaches for addressing them. Marine-related learning networks improve ocean governance systems by bringing together multiple actors and perspectives in decision-making, management, or policymaking contexts and by providing opportunities to exchange knowledge, build capacity, and take action. Although such networks have operated within coastal and island communities for many years, most studies that discuss their work have focused on the activities and contributions of specific networks. Few (if any) studies have examined a broad variety of networks in order to understand the collective roles they play in ocean governance and ascertain how they can be most effective. Our findings, which are based on interviews with 40 leaders, advisors, and staff members involved in 16 different networks, fill this gap by discussing why marine-related learning networks form, how they achieve their outcomes, and which attributes are most essential for their success. This study is an initial exploration of the diverse field of marine-related learning networks and offers many opportunities for further research. It can also be leveraged by those involved in new and existing networks to refine and improve their functionality and effectiveness.”