Another UW student receives a thesis grant

Emma Dexter, an UW student in the Coastal Communities and Regional Development master’s program, has received a grant from the Regional Development Agency of Iceland for her final project. She has received ISK 330.000 to research the place attachment of people who live in areas at risk from natural disasters in Iceland. Emma will also explore people's awareness of climate change and their assessment of disaster risk. In addition, she wants to know whether there are differences in these factors between places depending on whether people live in areas with a risk of natural disasters or not. She will do this by conducting a national survey in Iceland.

Emma's research is closely related to the CliCNord project, which examines how small rural communities in the Nordic countries understand their own situation, how they handle adverse events, and under what circumstances they need help from the established system and civil society organizations. There are different hazards that affect local communities across the Nordic countries that are regarded as a direct consequence of climate change, like coastal flooding, cloudbursts, wildfires, slush avalanches, and flash floods, for example. In the CliCNord project, there are 8 different cases in 5 countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland.

Matthias Kokorsch, academic director of the Coastal Communities and Regional Development master’s program at UW and Jóhanna Gísladóttir, from the Agricultural University of Iceland (Landbúnaðarháskóli Íslands), were part of the Icelandic team of CliCNord and conducted their research on avalanches in the Westfjords. They used a case study where they had participants from two small remote communities, Patreksfjörður and Flateyri. The participants took part in a focus group and individual interviews. The findings suggest that both communities show a high level of place attachment, particularly with regard to the natural and social dimensions. Emma will take this idea further beyond these two communities and expand it nationwide.

Emma will work with Matthias and Jóhanna as supervisors. Matthias says that they are looking forward to these very important results, not only for the CliCNord project, but even more for informed disaster risk management in Iceland.

We wish Emma all the best in her thesis research and say congratulations on the well deserved funding.