The Blue Economy and Coastal Communities

Elective Course | 4 ECTS | Námskeið: CRD 22

Kennari: Patrick Heidkamp

Um námskeiðið

This course aims to introduce students to the burgeoning and often conflicting Blue Economy discourse and challenges students to critically analyze community development efforts that are sold as Blue Economy initiatives. Students will engage with a variety of concepts such as the Geography of Transitions, Just Sustainability Transitions, and Critical Pragmatism in order to help them develop their own framework for critical analysis. The course will culminate with a community based transdisciplinary action research simulation exercise where students will first complete a rapid community needs assessment during a field trip to a community in the Westfjords and then afterwards employ a modified design thinking approach to come up with a solution for community development. The outcomes of the exercise will be reported back to the community for feedback.


I am a Professor in the Department of the Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences at SCSU, and also a co-director of the Connecticut State University Center for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Education. My current research focuses on transdisciplinary engagement with the blue economy and just sustainability transitions in the coastal zone. I am especially interested in furthering Critical Pragmatism as an underlying ontology to getting things done—rather than just talking about it. Related to this, I have received funding for Project Blue at SCSU, which is a transdisciplinary action research project aimed engaging the Blue Economy in Long Island Sound. For more info please visit 

I have international teaching and/or research experience in Africa, Central America, and Europe and have been organizing and leading a Summer Field Course focused on studying Economy-Environment interactions to Iceland for the last decade.


In this course, different approaches to achieve the sustainable use and conservation of ocean resources for improved wellbeing, social equity, and healthy aquatic ecosystems will be discussed. The course focuses on the blue economy paradigm, which connects environmental, social, and economic sustainability by promoting the improvement of human wellbeing and social equity. The Blue Economy has gained attention among government organizations, development agencies, politicians, academics, entrepreneurs, and businesses as being a new integrated approach to community and regional development. Different economic sectors that play an important role in coastal community development will be examined, such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, energy, trade, tourism, construction, and marine services. This course shifts the attention from traditional economic analysis to alternative economic models and measures.

On completion of the course, a student:

  • understands the interdependency of ocean industries, marine ecosystems, and societies who depend on them.
  • can identify and interpret challenges that come with the increase in the economic value of the oceans and the increasing threats on the oceans.
  • can describe alternative economic approaches in addition to traditional economic analysis.
  • has the understanding of different economic actors and stakeholder groups in ocean-based industries.
  • can participate in and lead group discussions about sustainable economic development in coastal communities.
  • can implement an inter-disciplinary analysis of value chains in the ocean related industries.