Oban, 20 November 2014 -- SAMS has launched a new research centre to improve understanding of how society interacts with the marine environment, and so improve how marine and coastal areas are managed and governed.
The mission of the Laurence Mee Centre for Society and the Sea is to connect communities, values, policy and places to bring long-term, sustainable benefits to communities. The centre was named after the late Professor Laurence Mee, former director of SAMS and the UK's first professor of marine and coastal policy, who died in August.
The centre currently involves 11 staff and PhD researchers across a wide range of backgrounds in social and natural science research and arts. The centre also includes 16 associates from other research institutions across the world, who will collaborate with staff at SAMS on research projects and teaching. The centre works across different sectors associated with the marine environment, including energy, nature conservation, fisheries and aquaculture.
“Working right across different sectors and academic disciplines enables us to engage in a unique way with the complex issues of managing and governing the marine and coastal environment. Our holistic approach directly influences both how we develop new theories and how we deliver the evidence that decision-makers need to manage our seas and coasts more sustainably,” said Dr Jasper Kenter, principal investigator in ecological economics at SAMS and head of the Laurence Mee Centre.
Both the vision and way of working of the centre expresses the priorities set by Professor Mee. As an expert on the relationships between people and the ever-changing marine environment, Professor Mee worked with politicians, community leaders, educationalists and business leaders to devise ways to use our seas more sustainably.
“Laurence Mee was a master of joined up thinking. He consistently advocated and worked towards integrating the human and ecological aspects of planning and conservation. He always emphasized the importance of facilitating cooperative planning in order to understand and meet community needs while achieving conservation objectives,” said Ruth Brennan, research associate in social ecology, and one of Professor Mee’s last PhD students.
The centre was formally launched at SAMS 130th birthday celebration, on November 14th. Building on its worldwide reputation in marine natural sciences, the launch of the Laurence Mee Centre reflects the increasing importance SAMS places on understanding the human dimensions of the sea and the interactions between social and economic issues and the natural environment.
Professor Axel Miller, acting director of SAMS, said: “SAMS has a proud history as a pioneering institution, and has often been the first to explore new ways of doing research. I hope that from that perspective, through the launch of the Laurence Mee Centre, 2014 will take its own place in our historical narrative.”