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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Academic Staff  /  Seth Gustafson

Seth Gustafson

Department of Geography
University College London
26 Bedford Way, Room G13
London WC1H 0AP

Tel:  +44 (0)207 679 5517

Email:  s.gustafson@ucl.ac.uk

Office hours for Term 1:
Tuesdays 9a-11a
Thursdays 12p-1p

2016-present
Lecturer in Human Geography
University College London

2014-2016
Post-doctoral Research Associate
INTERCOAST Graduate Training Program
Universität Bremen and University of Waikato

2007-2014
M.A, Ph.D., Geography, The University of Georgia

2015                Gustafson, S. “The Making of a Landslide:  Legibility and Expertise in Exurban Southern Appalachia.”  Environment and Planning A 47, 1404-1421.  DOI:  10.1177/0308518X15595767.

2015                Gustafson, S. “Maps and Contradictions:  Urban Political Ecology and Cartographic Expertise in Southern Appalachia.”  Geoforum 60, 143-152.

2015                Burke, B.  M. Welch-Devine, S. Gustafson.  “Nature Talk in an Appalachian Newspaper:  What Environmental Discourse Analysis Says about Efforts to Address Exurbanization and Climate Change.”  Human Organization 74 (2), 185-196.

2015                Burke, B. M. Welch-Devine, S. Gustafson, N. Heynen, J. L. Rice, T. L. Gragson, S. Evans, D. R. Nelson.  “Can Science Writing Collectives Overcome the Barriers To More Democratic Communication?:  Lessons from Environmental Communication Praxis in Southern Appalachia.”  Environmental Communication. DOI:  10.1080/17524032.2014.999695

2014                Gustafson, S., N. Heynen, J. Rice, T. Gragson, J. M. Shepherd, C. Strother.  “Megapolitan Political Ecology and Urban Metabolism in Southern Appalachia.”  The Professional Geographer. DOI:  10.1080/00330124.2014.905158.

2013                Gustafson, S. “Displacement and the Racial State in Olympic Atlanta, 1990-1996.”            Southeastern Geographer 53, 2.

Working at the burgeoning intersection of urban political ecology and science and technology studies, the broad theme of my research is the role of urban, expert, and non-expert environmental knowledge in environmental governance, urban metabolism, and planetary urbanization.  My current research builds on my post-doctoral research which investigated this theme through the topic of harbor dredging at urban ports in the North Sea and New Zealand.  Dredging is a common, expensive, and complex freshwater management practice laden with socio-ecological costs and consequences for cities and their rivers.  At the global scale, shipping networks connecting the world’s ports demand expert, precise and reliable sediment management. Indeed, in some cases in New Zealand and Germany, a port's continued position in global shipping networks is predicated upon acceding to the dredging demands of powerful shipping firms. Locally, however, dredging is often highly controversial, requiring politically and environmentally delicate strategies that must remediate often highly toxic sediment beds, avoid water quality degradation, and conserve aquatic and benthic habitat. Ultimately, my work detailed the dredging practices of several North Sea and New Zealand ports, comparing these two nearly antipodal city-regions to see how their political economic trajectories as ports are bound together by dredging plans, practices, demands, and pressures.

In other previous research, I also explored issues of expertise, planning, and urbanization by examining the urban governance of environmental hazards in southern Appalachia (Gustafson 2015). The case study I used was a local policy controversy in western North Carolina regarding the regulation of steep mountain slope development to prevent landslides. This economically peripheral region experienced rapid urban growth from 1960-2008 but lacked regulatory or civil society capacity to address the fallout from the post-2008 crisis. Some local residents had long attempted to mitigate local environmental externalities of urban growth in their historically rural area, but did so only under the auspices of massive capital investment via residential construction.  As the financial crisis constricted this influx of capital, it intersected with attitudes toward expert geological knowledge and non-expert knowledge of the landscape, thereby thwarting effective planning measures to mitigate landslide vulnerability. This work explores the fraught role of expert knowledge in environmental planning in urbanizing places.

I have broader impact research experience in interdisciplinary settings and at the science-society interface. My work at INTERCOAST, an international and interdisciplinary graduate research training program funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) and was split between the University of Bremen and the University of Waikato in New Zealand. INTERCOAST exists to provide graduate students and post-doctoral researchers the support to conduct interdisciplinary and international research on coastal environmental issues. Furthermore, I carried out my dissertation research as a NSF-funded research assistant at the Coweeta LTER, working as a member of the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP; listening.coweeta.uga.edu). The CLP is consists of several Coweeta LTER-affiliated social scientists whose goals are to listen to and to incorporate the public's environmental concerns into ecological science (Burke et al., 2015). Toward these ends, I helped establish mutually beneficial relationships between scientists and non-scientists in southern Appalachia, create productive interdisciplinary relationships between social and physical scientists, and publish interdisciplinary scholarship (Gustafson et al. 2014).

Undergraduate
GEOG1004 Human Ecology

Barcelona Field Course

GEOG3077 Urban Political Ecology

GEOG2009 Environment and Society

Postgraduate
GEOGG013 Environmental Knowledges

GEOGG045 Environment, Politics, and Practice

Committee Member

2016-2019       Mara Ort, Universität Bremen.

2016-2019       Eric Tamatey Lawer, Universität Bremen.