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Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions

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SEMINAR – When water quality is the easy problem: An untold story of sustainability and human well-being

November 23, 2015 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

| Free

SPEAKER: Bridie McGreavy, Assistant Professor, Communication & Journalism, UMaine

Please see below a list of suggested reading to accompany the seminar.

Intertidal mudflat ecosystems along Maine’s coast provide an income for approximately 1,700 licensed commercial shellfishermen in the State. These ecosystems and the individuals and communities that depend on them face threats due to unsustainable land use practices that cause bacterial contamination and make shellfish unsafe to eat. Fecal contamination of mudflats causes short and long-term closures that negatively impact shellfishermen. This presentation shares research from the New England Sustainability Consortium’s (NEST) Safe Beaches and Shellfish project that studies how communication shapes shellfishing resilience to water quality contamination. An ongoing ethnography in Frenchman Bay has yielded insights about the complex communication and decision making factors that shape individual and collective abilities to detect and respond to water quality issues. Further, this research has identified how drug addiction in Downeast Maine increases shellfishermen’s vulnerability to water quality and other types of change. This presentation intends to advance a conversation about how to partner with organizations, seek additional funding, and work with the legislature to meaningfully address drug addiction in fishing communities as a pressing issue of sustainability and human well-being.

Bridie McGreavy is Assistant Professor of Environmental Communication in UMaine’s Dept. of Communication and Journalism. She uses ethnographic and mixed methods to study communication within sustainability science teams and coastal and freshwater management contexts. McGreavy received National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for her dissertation and postdoctoral research that she conducted with Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative (now the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions) and NEST respectively. She is currently a co-PI on a $6 million grant through NSF’s EPSCoR program to advance a four-year study examining the future of dams in New England. Her communication research has been published in journals such as Environmental Communication, Ecology and Society, and the International Journal of Sustainable Development.

Suggested Readings:

  • Bennett, J. Vibrant Matters: A Political Ecology of Things. 2009.
  • Kohn, E. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. 2013.
  • Venkatesh, S. A. Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Street. 2008.
  • Zolli, A., & Healy, A. M. Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back. 2012.


November 23, 2015
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


107 Norman Smith Hall
Mitchell Center - UMaine
Orono, ME 04469 United States
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