Adaptation Planning

Course: CMM 16

Instructor: Patricia Manuel

Course Catalog Description

About the Course

Climate change adaptation is a rapidly evolving field in coastal and marine management. Coastal armouring was once the ‘go to’ approach for protecting communities, land uses and infrastructure from coastal flooding and erosion, but climate change is making us rethink our ‘defense’ mentality in occupying the coastal zone. In this course, we explore the impacts of climate change on coastal regions and consider new opportunities to redefine our relationship with the coast. We use lectures and seminars and work in small teams and individually to learn about adaptation strategies and tools, and study and critique adaptation approaches in select coastal regions and communities, including the communities of Ísafjarðarbær.


I began teaching in the Coastal and Marine Management Program in 2011, beginning with courses on principles of planning for coastal communities and regions, and later moving to adaptation planning.  My regular appointment is as Professor of Planning in the School of Planning, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and cross-appointed to the Dalhousie School of Occupational Therapy. I am also a licensed professional planner (LPPNS) and member of the Atlantic Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planners and serve as a director of the Licensed Professional Planners Association of Nova Scotia and Coastal Zone Canada Association.

As a geographer and environmental planner, I teach broadly in community and environmental planning and conduct applied research in multidisciplinary teams on climate change adaptation, wetland and watershed planning, and marine spatial planning. My current research includes investigating barriers to and opportunities for nature-based adaptation in coastal regions, social vulnerability and climate change, community-based engagement in marine spatial planning, the intersection of community planning and marine spatial planning, and integration of local and traditional knowledge in marine resource decision-making. Students conduct research and work in internships in all these areas under my supervision and benefit from being part of the research groups.

Here are some links for more information about my research activities and collaborations:

Interview. The big picture: the looming threat of rising sea levels -- and what we can do about it. Dal News. December 12, 2019.

Interview. Sea level’s rising faster in the Maritimes, but science can help communities plan and prepare.  Quirks and Quarks. CBC Radio. 2020, May 2, 2020.

Making Room for Movement — TransCoastal Adaptations

Local Governments and Coastal Communities are more than “Stakeholders” in Marine Spatial Planning | Social Licence & Aquaculture | Atlantic Canada (


Isafjordur is a beautiful place in a precarious location, a definite draw for an environmental planner; but the real reason I return every year is the UW community of staff and students: this program is a gem.