Abstract: Ensuring adaptation to increasing environmental variability and change is a complex socio-ecological problem. However, empirical investigation of actual institutional ‘solutions’ to complex socio-ecological problems remains largely descriptive (complexity as the new reality), or normative (complexity should be solved through polycentric adaptation and participation across institutional contexts). This seminar reports on a number of research projects which critically analyse real-world institutional solutions to complexity: regional governance networks in rural environments; adaptive planning regimes in riparian and coastal environments; and cumulative impact assessment regimes in coastal and marine environments. Dr Morrison discusses what a critical assessment of existing institutional levers in the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand means for future research and practice in marine environments and across the torrid zone.
Biography: Dr Morrison is Founding Director of the Environmental and Social Planning Research Group and Co-Founding Director of the Network of Environmental Social Scientists at the University of Queensland. Dr Morrison’s research program centres around two main themes: (1) Basic theory of environmental governance, planning, and management (drawing on empirical research on policy and administration in the USA, Australia, and Asia focusing on the role of inter-agency arrangements, the use of science and stakeholders in decision-making and assessment and planning, and the role of scale), and (2) Applied environmental governance, planning, and management (concerned with the feasibility of different institutional designs to respond to contemporary environmental issues – such as climate variability and unplanned coastal development – through manipulating socio-ecological and ‘science to policy’ dynamics). Dr Morrison has a background in public policy and planning, with qualifications in environmental science, environmental planning, and political geography.