Understanding factors influencing marine access

This internationally collaborative PhD project is exploring the social and cultural factors influencing marine access in Liberty City, Miami, Florida.

PhD student Julie Hollenbeck is specifically considering the local community’s connections, values, attitudes and knowledge relating to the ocean. The project will also examine the influence of society and culture on the perceived relevance, risks and benefits of the ocean to human health.

By developing an understanding of the socio-cultural barriers and facilitators of coastal access, the ‘Sea to Me’ study is hoping to provide new avenues for the coastal communities to improve health and wellbeing, marine awareness and decision-making.

Despite a mutually interdependent relationship between the state of our oceans and human health, marine and coastal issues have failed to generate sustained public interest and understanding in the US. This is particularly the case for underrepresented communities, and to date, public marine awareness has been directed toward white, middle/upper class audiences, based on the assumption they are more “likely” to be interested.

As the human impact on our coasts becomes an increasingly pressing issue for our health and wellbeing, it is important to understand how people make sense of the sea in order to involve all people in the marine environment and its issues. This project will help to facilitate targeted marine awareness, improved ocean literacy and solution to marine access barriers in overlooked groups.

This research is jointly funded by the European Centre and the University of Miami Oceans and Human Health Centre.

More information will be available as the study develops.