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Curtin University
Coastal Collaboration Cluster

Adaptive Learning

Organisational, social and sustainability learning

Image of beach

Complexity, uncertainty and high decision-stakes are typical characteristics of many coastal systems. Adaptive manage-ment has recently emerged as a paradigm for responding to these characteristics within coastal systems. Adaptive learning essentially drives the adaptive management process by facilitating connections between science and management processes and thereby
maximises pathways to science uptake.

Adaptive Learning

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The Adaptive Learning Theme is researching a range of national and international coastal management cases studies drawing on principles and practices of:

These will provide part of the knowledge base to enable adaptive learning within coastal organisations and inform the development of a simplified framework for coastal organisations to monitor and evaluate their institutionalisation of adaptive learning.

The Adaptive Learning Theme focuses on South East Queensland to analyse how a more communicative relationship between knowledge-makers and decision-makers could be enabled for the coastal zone.


The research aims of the Adaptive Learning Theme are to:

Design and Methods

This research focuses on coastal organisations responsible for managing social-ecological systems that are character-ised by complexity and uncertainty in relation to change. The
proposed study will be grounded in the literature relating to three broad theoretical frameworks: sustainability, resilience and adaptive learning. Desk-top case studies of adaptive learning across Australia and international coastal organisations will be analysed. These studies will also provide scope to assess adaptive learning in case studies where primary data will be collected. The theoretical framework will be applied to 3-4 coastal organisations within Australia. The purpose is to evaluate organisational structures and processes and related information/knowledge sharing arrangements that exemplify adaptive learning. Qualitative interviews will be conducted with individuals within the organisational structure of the case studies.