File:Breslow et al 2019 social science research agenda for salish sea.pdf

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Breslow, Sara Jo, Leah Kintner, Stacia Dreyer, Heather Cole, Leif Anderson, Kelly Biedenweg, Nathan Bennett, Jamie Donatuto, Erin Hanson, Emma Norman, Melissa Poe, David Trimbach. 2019. Social Science for the Salish Sea: an action-oriented research agenda to inform ecosystem recovery. 50 pp. Prepared for the Puget Sound Partnership.


To protect and restore the Salish Sea—the transboundary waters shared by British Columbia’s Georgia Basin and Washington State’s Puget Sound—we must understand its biology, physical processes, and its people, who both affect and support the environment, and provide the only means for recovering it. Understanding people’s diverse perspectives, values and objectives, and how people in the region are constrained or enabled by social and governance systems, will facilitate a more effective and equitable approach to ecosystem recovery. There is growing recognition that to solve environmental problems, we need to also understand their human dimensions.

To address these needs, we convened a transboundary team of interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners to develop an action-oriented social science research agenda that serves the pragmatic ecosystem recovery needs of the region in a project called Social Science for the Salish Sea. The aim of this project was to:

  • scope a research agenda that responds to the social science information needs of entities leading ecosystem recovery in the region, including governmental agencies, advocacy organizations, and Tribes and First Nations;
  • elevate awareness of the diversity of social science fields and their contribution to robust environmental solutions;
  • promote the production and use of social science for environmental problem-solving and decision-making at the local, regional and transboundary scales; and
  • cultivate a transboundary community of researchers, implementers, and funders who support integrating social science into ecosystem recovery decision making.

The project was initiated in response to the Puget Sound Partnership’s stated need for robust social science to inform their ecosystem recovery strategies, and the research agenda was designed to inform and respond to the needs and existing frameworks of entities involved in regional ecosystem recovery efforts, such as the Puget Sound Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, Tribal Nations and First Nations. The project was funded by the Puget Sound Partnership, the Bullitt Foundation, and the University of Washington Canadian Studies Center.

Here we report on the results of the first phase of the Social Science for the Salish Sea project: a proposed research agenda of 33 topics, and of those, our recommendations for the most urgent and impactful topics deserving immediate attention.

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