Dr Laura Ferguson

        Dr Laura Ferguson smiling on a Scottish beach

Marine social scientist

I am a social sciences academic specialising in marine social science and Arctic social science, with regional expertise in the Arctic, Scotland and Ireland.

I also volunteer as a Communications Officer for the Marine Social Sciences Network. In addition to my social sciences work, I have a scientific/engineering background in GIS and in water resources engineering.

Contact details:

I have worked across a range of projects with social science elements, specialising in policy and stakeholder engagement. My research has covered a diverse range of topics, including governance, tourism, protected areas, natural and cultural heritage, renewable energy and resilience and adaptation in coastal areas. I have a particular interest in the Arctic and Far North, having worked in Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland. I am a member of the Svalbard Social Science Initiative and am often engaged in research activities there.


Current projects

Blue Growth Farm (EU Horizon, 2019-21)

ASTRAL (EU Horizon 2020-24)


Highlight past projects

Preserving and Sustainably Governing Cultural Heritage and Landscapes in European Coastal and Maritime Regions (PERICLES); Funded by EU Horizon 2020; 2018-21.

Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnership for Ecotourism (SHAPE); Funded by EU Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme; 2017-20 

PLACE in the Biosphere; Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund; 2018-21



BSc (Hons) Marine Science: Year 3 Marine Pollution. Lecturer

Peer-reviewed publications

Ferreira da Silva M, Vegas Macias J, Taylor S, Ferguson L, Sousa LP, Lamers M, Flannery W, Martins F, Costa C, Pita C (2022) Tourism and coastal & maritime cultural heritage: a dual relationship. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Changehttps://doi.org/10.1080/14766825.2022.2073825 

Flannery W, Ounanian K, Toonen H, van Tatenhove J, Murtagh B, Ferguson L, Delaney A, Kenter J, Azzopardi E, Pita C, Mylona D, Witteveen L, Hansen CJ, Howells M, Vegas Macias J, Lamers M, Ferreira da Silva AM, Taylor S, Roio M, Karro K, Saimer T (2022) Steering resilience in coastal and marine cultural heritage. Maritime Studies; https://doi.org/10.1007/s40152-022-00265-2 

Hansen CJ, Azzopardi E, Béguir I, Ferguson L, Flannery W, Frangoudes K (2022) Building planning spaces for the integration of coastal and maritime cultural heritage in local and regional spatial development. Maritime Studieshttps://doi.org/10.1007/s40152-022-00264-3 

Zhang J, Sokolíčková Z, Iversen L, Meyer A, Ødegaard CV and Ferguson L (2021) (Un)Inhabiting Svalbard: Stories of Makings from a Transient Place in the High Arctic. TRANSLOCAL Contemporary Local and Urban Cultures. Accepted July 2021

Ounanian K, van Tatenhove J, Hansen CJ, Delaney AE, Bohnstedt H, Azzopardi E, Flannery W, Toonen H, Kenter JO, Ferguson L, Kraan M, Macias JV, Lamers M, Pita C, da Silva AMF, Albuquerque H, Alves F, Mylona D and Frangoudes K (2021) Conceptualizing Coastal and Maritime Cultural Heritage through Communities of Meaning and Participation. Journal of Ocean and Coastal Management, 212, doi: 105806.

Ferguson L (2019) Polar Policy Making: Two Ethnographic Accounts of Polar Field Scientists Interacting with Polar Governance and Policy. International Sociology Reviews, 34(5), pp.552-559.

Ferguson L (2019) Book Review - Coastal Works: Cultures of the Atlantic Edge. Limina Journal, 24(2).

Bach L, Ferguson L, Feltelius V and Sondergaard J (2014) 'Orchomenella pinguis (amphipoda) - a possible species for heavy metal biomonitoring of marine sediments,' Journal of Coastal Life Medicine, 2(2), pp.116-123.

Ferguson L (2010) Hong Kong: Communicating 1997 and Beyond Through Film. eSharp, Special Issue: Communicating Change Representing Self and Community in a Technological World, pp.30-49.

Ferguson L (2010) Book Review - ‘Writing History and Film’ and ‘The Hollywood Historical Film.’ Scope, 16, no pagination.


Other publications

Ferguson L et al (2020) Report on Policy Aspects. Report. Preserving and Sustainably Governing Cultural Heritage and Landscapes in European Coastal and Maritime Regions (PERICLES), pp.58.

Ferguson L et al (2019) Report on Policy Interviews. Report. Preserving and Sustainably Governing Cultural Heritage and Landscapes in European Coastal and Maritime Regions (PERICLES), pp.42.

Ferguson L et al (2019) Critical Policy Analysis of Cultural Heritage in Coastal and Maritime Policy. Report. Preserving and Sustainably Governing Cultural Heritage and Landscapes in European Coastal and Maritime Regions (PERICLES), pp.37.

Murtagh B, Ferguson L, and Flannery W (2019) Coastal and Maritime Cultural Heritage at Risk and Common Risk Management Strategies. Preserving and Sustainably Governing Cultural Heritage and Landscapes in European Coastal and Maritime Regions (PERICLES), pp.93.

Ferguson L, Saville S and Sokolíčková Z (2019) Public Consultation on Views Towards Management of Central Spitsbergen. Svalbard Social Science Initiative, pp.12.

Ferguson L (2018) Governance for Sustainable Heritage Areas. Report. Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism (SHAPE), pp.107. Available at: https://shape.interreg-npa.eu/subsites/SHAPE/WPt3_Ensuring_effective_governance/DT.3.1.1_Report_on_governance_structures.pdf

Ferguson L (2017) Mapping and Managing Natural and Cultural Heritage Assets and Assessing Climate Change Impacts. Report. Sustainable Heritage Areas: Partnerships for Ecotourism (SHAPE), pp.80. Available at: https://shape.interreg-npa.eu/subsites/SHAPE/WPt2_Capitalising_on_assets/DT2.1.1_Report_on_mapping_and_managing_assets_and_assessing_climate_change_impacts.pdf



Ferguson L (2020) Integrated and Participatory Heritage Management for Tourism in Northern Ireland, SHAPE Conference, 5 Feb. 2020, Joensuu, Finland.

Ferguson, L. 2019. Arctic Coastal Cultural Heritage at Risk, ARCTIS Conference, 20 Feb. 2019, Russia.

Ferguson, L. and Lorch, C. 2017. A Community Survey Analysis of Public Attitudes Regarding Renewable Energy Development in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit Conference: Sustainable Development in the Arctic, 14th-16th November 2017, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Ferguson, L. 2017. Public Participatory GIS for Sustainable Tourism Development in Snaefellsnes Regional Park, Iceland, UK Arctic Science Conference, 19-21 Sep. 2017, Oban, United Kingdom.

Ferguson, L. 2016. Communities as Stakeholders in Arctic Water Resources Development, International Conference: Sanitation in Cold Climate Regions, 12-14 Apr. 2016, Sisimiut, Greenland.

Ferguson, L. 2015. A Holistic Approach to Small-Scale Hydro-power and Marine Energy Development in the Arctic Zone, In the Spirit of the Rovaniemi Process 2nd International Conference: Local and Global Arctic, 24-26 Nov. 2015, Rovaniemi, Finland.

Ferguson, L. 2013. Artistic Licence in Communicating Science, Fifth International Conference on Science in Society, 22-23 Nov. 2013, Warsaw, Poland.

Memberships and roles

Since Dec 2019: Communications Officer, Marine Social Science Network

Member, Svalbard Social Science Network 



2019-2020 Engage Researchers' Academy



The Edge Seminar Series (University of the Highlands & Islands). March 2021; online

PERICLES Webinar Series. October 2020; online



Employment history

Since 2021 Marine Social Science PDRA; SAMS

2018-21 Research Fellow. Queen's University Belfast

2018 Project Intern. Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve

2017-18 Research Assistant. Centre for Mountain Studies, University of the Highlands and Islands

2006-07 Reporter and Feature Writer. Carrick Gazette

2005-06 Editorial Assistant. Carrick Media



2019 MSc Geographic Information Systems. University of Leeds

2015 MSc Water Resources. Heriot-Watt University

2013 BSc (Hons) 2:1 Natural Sciences. The Open University

2011 PhD Interdisciplinary Studies. University of Glasgow

2007 BA (Hons) 2:1 Humanities. The Open University 

2006 BA (Hons) 1st Class Media. University of Paisley