I am a marine social scientist associated with the interdisciplinary Laurence Mee Centre for Society and the Sea at SAMS.
Positioned at the interface of science, policy and the arts, my work is highly interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary. I use innovative visual and participatory and qualitative methodologies to explore how the articulation of culturally-embedded relationships between people and place can facilitate engagement with the related policy environment. My research offers insights into different ways in which marine spaces are conceptualised by users, managers and human-environment interactions, how this relates to marine resource governance and, in particular, what it means for community engagement. I am an experienced facilitator and communicator both through my research and my former career as a solicitor with a leading international law firm in London and Paris. I collaborated for more than four years with Glasgow-based visual artist Stephen Hurrel and our art-science work has been widely exhibited in Scotland (including at GoMA, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow).
I am a member of 3 COST Actions: Oceans Past Platform (Gendered Seas Working Group), MarCons (Marine Protected Area Governance Working Group) and Ocean Governance for Sustainability (Fisheries Governance under a Blue Growth paradigm). I participate in the Humanities for the Environment network and in several Future Earth Knowledge-Action Networks.
My research interests include:
- >Social, historical, political and cultural influences shaping environment-society relationships;
- >Environmental governance, marine policy and social justice;
- >Ecosystem approach to management of social-ecological systems;
- >Art-science collaborations.
Research grants awarded as Co-PI / Research Associate
Land-based and artisanal-fishing sources of marine litter: a Mediterranean Sea case study
Sgeulachdan na Mara - Sea Stories
Connecting Coastal Communities
Marine Energy Research Innovation and Knowledge Accelterator (MERIKA)
Knowledge-based Management of Europe's Seas (KnowSeas)
Science and Policy Integration for Coastal Systems Assessment (SPICOSA)
The Effectiveness of Certification and Ecolabelling in Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries
Doctoral thesis (2015)
What lies beneath: probing the cultural depths of a nature conservation conflict in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Potts T., O’Higgins T., Brennan R., Cinnirella S., Steiner Brandt U., Suárez de Vivero J.L., van Beusekom, J., Troost T., Paltriguera L., Gunduz Hosgor, A. 2015. Detecting critical choke points for achieving Good Environmental Status. Ecology and Society 20(1): 29
Cinnirella S., Sardà R., Suárez de Vivero J. L., Brennan R., Barausse A., Icely J., Luisetti T., March D., Murciano C., Newton A., O’Higgins T., Palmeri L., Palmieri M. G., Raux P., Rees S., Albaigés J., Pirrone N. & K. Turner. 2014. Steps towards a shared governance response for achieving Good Environmental Status in the Mediterranean Sea. Ecology and Society 19(4): 47
Smith G and Brennan RE. 2012. Losing our way with mapping: thinking critically about marine spatial planning in Scotland. Ocean & Coastal Management 69:210-216
Brennan RE and Valcic B. 2012. Feature Article: Shifting perspectives - how the masks we wear can facilitate and inhibit channels of communication in the social-environmental policy context. Ocean & Coastal Management 62: 1-8
Brennan RE and Rodwell LD. 2008. Sustainable Management of wild Irish Atlantic salmon: Keys found through the looking-glass. Marine Policy 32: 1072-1079
Brennan R. 2007. The North Norfolk Coastline: A Complex Legacy. Coastal Management 35: 587-599
Tett, P., Black, K., Brennan, R. Cook, E., Davidson, K. (2015) Challenge: Sustainable mariculture at high latitudes. In Baztan J., Chouinard O., Jorgensen B., Tett P., Vanderlinden J.P. and Vasseur L. (Eds.) Coastal Zones: Solutions for the 21st century. Elsevier: Amsterdam.
Hurrel S. and Brennan R. 2014. Clyde Reflections - a film and audio-visual installation. In Griffith D. (Ed.) Imagining Natural Scotland. Creative Scotland: Edinburgh and Glasgow. (Chapter available for viewing with full permission of Creative Scotland).
Potts, T., Brennan, R., Pita, C. and Lowrie, G. 2011. Sustainable Seafood and Eco labelling: The Marine Stewardship Council, UK Consumers, and the UK Fishing Industry. SAMS Report: 270-211 Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, UK.
Bell E, Brennan R, Nickell T, Potts T, Valcic B, and Wilson, H. 2011. Report to LINK: Making the case for the sound management of Marine Protected Areas. Scottish Association for Marine Science Internal Report No. 267, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, Scotland.
Brennan R., Potts T. and Mee L. 2010. Report on Social and Economic Objectives for a Scottish Marine Plan. Scottish Government Publications, Edinburgh.
Brennan R. 2014. Where is the management for Isla Holbox, Mexico? An ecological reserve in the midst of social and political controversy. The Island Review, 19 June 2014.
Brennan R. 2014. What lies beneath. Ruth Brennan on probing the cultural depths of nature conservation conflict in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The Island Review, 31 January 2014.
MacKinnon I. and Brennan R. 2012. Dùthchas na Mara/Dúchas na Mara/Belonging to the Sea. Exploring the cultural roots of maritime conflict on Gaelic speaking islands in Scotland and Ireland. Photography: Stephen Hurrel. ISBN 978-0-9529089-8-2
Hurrel S. and Brennan R. 2014. Clyde Reflections: a film and audio-visual installation. www.vimeo.com/89793693
Exhibitions and screenings
Hurrel S. and Brennan R. 2015. Clyde Reflections - an audio-visual installation. Main Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow 29 May-5 July 2015.
Hurrel S. and Brennan R. 2014. Clyde Reflections film premiere screening at Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) Glasgow 11 September 2014.
Hurrel S. and Brennan R. 2014. Sea Stories and Belonging to the Sea exhibited as part of North Sea Hitch at Timespan, Helmsdale 5-29 July 2014
Hurrel S. and Brennan R. 2013. Sea Stories and Belonging to the Sea exhibited as part of Sea Change at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh November 2013-January 2014
Brennan R. 2015 Cultural transformations in the Scottish marine policy process: the story of Barra To be presented at the ESRC Symposium on Marine Conservation and Governance: MPAs and beyond. 24-25 September 2015 University of Bristol (Invited speaker)
Brennan R. 2015 Cultural transformations in the Scottish marine policy process: the story of Barra. Presented as a webinar to the MASTS (Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) research community, 18 June 2015 (Invited speaker)
Brennan R. 2014 What lies beneath – probing the depths of a nature conservation conflict in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland Presented at the 2nd Marine and Coastal Policy Forum, Plymouth University, 18-20 June 2014 (Conference presentation)
Brennan R. 2013 What lies beneath – probing the depths of a nature conservation conflict in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland Presented at the Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 28-30 August 2013 (Conference presentation)
Hurrel S. and Brennan R. 2013 Clyde Reflections Jointly presented at the Imagining Natural Scotland Conference, St Andrews University, 27 August 2013 (Conference presentation)
Brennan R. 2013 Connecting nature conservation and community well-being on a small Scottish island: an invisible world revealed Presented at the Association of American Geographers 2013 Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, 9-13 April 2013 (Conference presentation)
Brennan R. 2012 What lies beneath – probing the depths of a nature conservation conflict in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland Presented at the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland Annual Science Meeting, 11-13 September 2012 (Conference presentation)
Brennan R. 2009 Sustainable management of wild Irish Atlantic salmon: keys found through the looking glass Presented at the Fourth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, University of Athens, 8-11 July 2009 (Conference presentation)
Brennan, R. 2017 Artisanal fishermen's perceptions of marine litter on the Israeli coastline: a case study of Jisr-a-Zarqa. LMC Seminar Series, SAMS, Oban, Scotland (invited speaker, forthcoming)
Brennan, R. 2016 Land-based and artisanal fishing sources of marine litter - perceptions of local fishermen in Jisr-a-Zarqa. Presented to the Environmental Group, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. (Invited speaker)
Brennan, R. 2016 Cultural transformations in the Scottish marine policy process: the story of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Presented at the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning Colloquium Series, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. (Invited speaker)
Brennan R. 2015 Thinking about how we think about nature – a marine conservation conflict in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland Presented at the Nordland Research Institute, Bodø, Norway, 25 March 2015 as part of an exchange visit under the MERIKA (Marine Energy Research Innovation and Knowledge Accelerator) EU FP7 (REGPOT) programme (Invited speaker)
Brennan R. 2014 A qualitative art-science methodology to explore and articulate ideas, visions and expressions of marine space and related social and cultural values Presented at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, 3 November 2014 (Invited speaker)
Brennan R. 2012 Art-Science-Community Collaborations. Presented at the James Hutton Institute, 23 November 2012 (Invited speaker)
Brennan R. 2014 Social science and art meet marine policy – the cultural depths of a nature conservation conflict in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Presented at a lunchtime seminar, Marine Scotland, Edinburgh, 30 January 2014 (Invited speaker)
Brennan R. and Potts T. 2010 Developing social and economic objectives for Scotland’s national marine plan. Presented at a stakeholder and policy-maker workshop, Marine Scotland, Edinburgh, 7 September 2009 (Invited speaker)
The Work that Reconnects Facilitator Training Course, UK (2010)
Facilitation Skills and Stakeholder Participation Training Course, Dialogue Matters, UK (2007)
Member of the Ocean Governance for Sustainability COST Action
Member of the Oceans Past Platform COST Action: Gendered Seas Working Group
Member of the Marine Conservation COST Action: Marine Protected Area Governance (MPAG) Working Group
Participant in Future Earth Oceans Knowledge-Action Network
Participant in Future Earth Transformations Knowledge-Action Network
Participant in Humanities for the Environment network
Advisory Group member to the Small Isles and Mull Inshore Fisheries Group (2010-2012)
Co-facilitator at public meetings run by Argyll and Bute Council to inform and develop a draft ICZM Plan for Loch Etive, North Argyll (2010)
Oban Festival of the Sea: Marine Environment Workshops for Primary 3-5 (2010)
Participation in SAMS Open Days (2009, 2010)
Radio interview, SIAR Media, Barra (August 2010)
Radio interview, SIAR Media, Barra (July 2011)
Public research meeting, Heritage Centre, Barra (March 2012)
Public workshop on Communicating Across Differences (with Verene Nicolas), Barra (May 2012)
Public presentation to launch Belonging to the Sea at Clan MacNeil Gathering, Barra (August 2012)
Public presentation to students and educators in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as part of The Clipperton Project Flating Laboratory: The Journey South (April 2013)
Public presentation for The Clipperton Project Floating Laboratory: Scotland's Canals, Inverness (August 2013)
Public presentation to launch Sea Stories online cultural map of the sea, Heritage Centre, Barra (November 2013)
Running workshops for local children at Palizada, Mexico, as part of The Clipperton Project Usumacinta River expedition (April 2014)
Public presentation to students and educators in Palizada, Mexico, as part of The Clipperton Project Usumacinta River expedition (April 2014)
Public talk (Artists' Talk) at GoMA, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow on art-science collaborations (30 May 2015)
Moving Image Season: Clyde Reflections Seminar (public) to explore social-ecological aspects of Clyde Reflections and current discussions on environment-society relationships, GoMA, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (13 June 2015)
Forthcoming: Meet the Artists' talk for educators and senior secondary level students, GoMA Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (September 2015)
Prizes, awards and bursaries
Butterworths Ireland Law Prize, Trinity College Dublin (1994)
Foundation Scholarship (1995)
Trinity College Dublin Julian Prize (1997)
University of Plymouth Masters Scholarship (2006)
Past research students
Eoina Rodgers (BSc (Hons.) Marine Science, SAMS, 2013). Supervisor for final year dissertation. Dissertation title: Management options for the Sound of Barra.
Glen Smith (MSc University of Edinburgh, 2011). Supervisor for paper published in Ocean & Coastal Management: Losing our way with mapping: thinking critically about marine spatial planning in Scotland. Available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2012.08.016
Abi Sutton (MSc, University of Edinburgh, 2011, supervisor) Dissertation title: Policy dialogue mechanisms for successful implementation of co-management strategies in Scotland's inshore fishing sector.
Past teaching activities
Guest lecturer, Introduction to Environmental Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning Colloquium Series, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Lecturer: Marine Resources module (year 2), BSc Marine Science, SAMS UHI
Lecturer: Marine Conservation module (year 3), BSc Marine Science, SAMS UHI
Lecturer: MRes Ecosystem-based Management of Marine Systems, University of St Andrews and SAMS
Lecturer: Marine Renewables and Society. IDCORE Short Course 2013.
Co-facilitator on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses: Marine Planning: The Policy Background; Beyond Conflict - Transforming stakeholder communication
2016 Research Fellow. Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion. Israel Institute of Technology. Haifa, Israel
Since 2015 Honorary Research Fellow and LMC Associate, SAMS
2010-15 MASTS Research Associate in Social Ecology. SAMS
2008-10 Research Assistant. Centre for Coastal and Ocean Governance. SAMS
2007 Research Fellow. Martin Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway
2005-06 European Legal Counsel (multi-jurisdictional consumer finance). CIT, Dublin
2000-02 Solicitor (international banking and structured finance). Linklaters, Paris
2000 Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. The Law Society (England and Wales)
1998-2000 Trainee solicitor. Linklaters, London
2015 PhD in Social Ecology. SAMS UHI
2007 MSc Coastal and Ocean Policy. University of Plymouth
1998 Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice. The College of Law of England and Wales, London
1997 First Class Honours Law Degree (LL.B. (Hons)). Trinity College, Dublin