A bittersweet moment that our SESYNC research team’s third (and final) paper came out last week in the journal Ocean & Coastal Management. When I began my research with SESYNC on the social and ecological outcomes of marine spatial planning (MSP) around the world, I didn’t expect to be publishing on the nitty gritty details of a theory-based approach to MSP evaluation. But, that is exactly where our research team found ourselves. The evaluation of complex, multi-objective MSP initiatives is a sticky challenge that requires new approaches and interdisciplinary thinking. With the research, we tested a theory-based approach (with theories of change) for MSP to not only evaluate WHAT happened, but better understand WHY it happened, HOW it happened, WHO it happened to, and WHO it happened for.
Since this is our research team’s last paper, I’ll thank all of my collaborators on the work. Jon Kramer and Nicole Motzer (formerly at SESYNC) who entrusted me to lead this work and provided substantial guidance and insight on how to conduct successful interdisciplinary, team research. Our expect research team who I learned so much from: Natalie Ban, Anne Guerry, Ana Spalding, Ben Halpern, Rafael Magris, Shauna Mahajan, Vanessa Stelzenmuller and Wes Flannery. I hope to have the privilege of working with every one of them again. And to our funder, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation – especially our Program Manager, Mary Turnipseed, who always had thought-provoking questions and challenged our group to pursue research questions with actionable results.
Our paper “Exploring the potential of theory-based evaluation to strengthen marine spatial planning practice” can be found here. If you don’t have journal access, please email me for a PDF.