Svalbard Futures: Value and Adaptation in the Anthropocene

Samantha (Sam) lives and works in the seaside town of Aberystwyth, Wales. Her passion lies in trying to make a positive impact in the world through critical explorations of how our species can live on this planet and sharing her findings. Sam previously worked for the Centre for Alternative Technology, undertaking community research and developing, administrating and teaching on their distance learning MSc programme. Her PhD research (completed 2017) explored different ways we can think about cultural and natural heritage conservation in a changing political and physical environment, taking Svalbard as a case study site. Alongside postgraduate studies she has taught tutorials, guest lectures and seminars at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Aberystwyth University and the University of Chester, covering topics including discourses of climate change, perceptions, adaptations and mitigation of climate change, behaviour change, value theory and introductions to economic and cultural geography. Following her PhD she worked on the GLOBAL-RURAL research project, contributing to investigations of globalization processes in rural Wales.

Project: Svalbard is a key hub of the modern Arctic that embodies many questions facing the region as a whole. Communities in Svalbard are having to adapt rapidly to changes in the physical and economic environment. Previous research revealed that key groups in Svalbard value common aspects of society here. The wilderness and the arctic landscape and climate, cultural heritage and arctic history, and the multi-cultural society are all important. However, there are tensions as to how best to measure, protect, manage, and develop these values within a rapidly changing socio-natural environment. This project aims to extend these findings by exploring the most recent developments, including avalanches and home evacuations in Longyearbyen and the closure of the largest coal mine, from residents’ and key stakeholders’ perspectives. In providing the time, training and opportunities to build networks, the fellowship will allow this research to fulfil its potential by publishing original research findings in a range of formats. Feedback to Svalbard communities is important so that they can respond to and benefit from this knowledge. The findings from the Svalbard Futures project are not only relevant to local Svalbard communities, but will be useful in the Arctic region and beyond. This research can offer valuable insights as to how adaptation can occur and how we might be able to improve on our responses to change in the future.

Involved institutions: Aberystwyth University, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

Supervisor: Prof. Peter Merriman

Keywords: Value, Adaptation, Svalbard, Anthropocene, Change, Transition, Climate change

Project duration: December 2018 – November 2019

Budget: £117844 total project cost (approx.153304 NOK)

Funding scheme: Economic and Social Research Council, UK Research and Innovation, Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme, Human Geography pathway.  

Call Objective: To provide the opportunity to consolidate their PhD through developing publications, their networks, and their research and professional skills. 

Contact:; +447905324026 or +44970 622661




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