Coastal management is a complex, multifaceted profession, requiring a thorough understanding of the economic, ecological, and human aspects of the country’s oceans and coasts. Coastal managers must know how to apply their knowledge in numerous real-world situations. To effectively serve their communities, they have to know the issues and move beyond theory, mastering the methods and tools for tackling them.
The GIS Applications in Marine Science and Policy class at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey arms future coastal managers with knowledge through hands-on methods and practices. The class provides students an interdisciplinary approach to the subject by introducing them to coastal and ocean management through the lenses of human geography, ecology, and planning and policy. The course includes lab sessions enabling students to apply skills and concepts they learned throughout the lecture, working hands on with data and tools needed for analysis. To engage students in critical thinking on these topics, the class employs real-life ocean data and web-based applications, including NOAA’s Economics: National Ocean Watch (ENOW) data explorer and Sea Level Rise Viewer to investigate coastal communities’ ocean dependencies and vulnerability. The students also follow the methods that the Office for Coastal Management developed to estimate the economic contribution of the working waterfronts to the municipality of their choosing.
At the end of the course, students develop a story map that combines data analysis, mapping, and a narrative that describes the human dimensions of coastal and marine spatial planning that impact their municipality. Using data in real-world settings enables students to better understand how this process can be used in planning and policy as they step into the job market. (2018)