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Culture + Ecology

Culture + Ecology

Cultural ecology considers the special design of the relationship between humans and nature due to cultural achievements. If culture becomes the subject of ecological research, the focus shifts away from natural environmental problems – such as climate change – towards the factors that influence the knowledge, perspectives, and behavior of individuals, groups, institutions, and organizations.

Culture can be defined as explicit and implicit patterns of behavior coupled with ideas and, in particular, the associated values. Ecologic Institute's research work addresses many aspects of the complex issue of cultural ecology, including the range of human behaviors and actions in policy- and decision-making, the economy, technology, the media, and social interactions in general regarding pathways to sustainable decision-making and transitions.

Team members have specific expertise in perceptions, knowledge, and practices related to climate change mitigation and adaptation, particularly in coastal and marine areas. Moreover, the cultural ecology team has gained strong competencies in scientific communication and knowledge exchange within applied research.


Related Topics

Coastal + Marine

Culture + Ecology


Dr. Nico Stelljes
Coordinator Coastal and Marine Studies
Selected Projects for Culture + Ecology
| Fotolia © Victoria
The research project INNOVA will consolidate key factors from adaptive management strategies from leading earlier and on-going European initiatives in Spain (Valencia), Germany (Bay of Kiel) and the Netherlands (Nijmegen) and France’ overseas territories in Guadeloupe... Read more
Soils2Sea logo

© Soils2Sea

Both the Baltic Sea Action Plan and the EU Water Framework Directive require substantial further reductions of nutrient loads (N and P) to the Baltic Sea during the coming years. Achievements of these goals will only be possible by the implementation of fundamental... Read more
Climate change is leading to increased vulnerability of coastal areas as coastal storms, sea level rise and flooding cause significant impacts across Europe. Resilience-Increasing Strategies for Coasts – toolKIT (RISC-KIT) is a four-year European research project aimed... Read more

Resilience-Increasing Strategies for Coasts – toolKIT (RISC-KIT)

The EU research project "Bottom-Up Climate Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe" (BASE) supports action for sustainable climate change adaptation in Europe. BASE makes experiential and scientific information on adaptation meaningful, transferable and easily... Read more

Bottom-Up Climate Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe (BASE)

The Ecologic Institute coordinated the five-year project RADOST (Regional Adaptation Strategies for the German Baltic Sea Coast). The Baltic coastline of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein is one of seven model regions in Germany that were supported by... Read more
All projects on Culture + Ecology
Selected Publications for Culture + Ecology
Profound societal transformations are needed to move society from unsustainability to greater sustainability under continually changing social and environmental conditions. A key challenge is to understand the influences on and the dynamics of collective behavior change... Read more

Chabay, I.; Koch, L.; Martinez, G.; Scholz, G. Influence of Narratives of Vision and Identity on Collective Behavior Change. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5680.

In this article, Dr. Grit Martinez ist concerned with the role of culture and history in relation to local knowledge and values, as these are displayed in the interpretations and actions of distinct groups regarding climate change. She argues that it makes sense to... Read more

Martinez, Grit. "Let's Say It in Their Own Words," edited by Katrin Kleemann and Jeroen Oomen, RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society 2019, no. 4, 105–14.

The idealistic endeavor of a universal education, as was conveyed for centuries by research institutions, is passé. It needed to be replaced by two scientific disciplines: The social sciences and humanities and the natural sciences and engineering sciences. However it... Read more

Martinez, G., Armaroli, C., Costas, S., Harley, D. M., Paolisso, M., (2018), Experiences and results from interdisciplinary collaboration: Utilizing qualitative information to formulate disaster risk reduction measures for coastal regions, Coastal Engineering,

It is widely recognized that national or regional efforts to restrict the damage of climate change are insufficient and hence that environmental and climate protection needs a global concept. Paradoxically, the way environmental and climate change is perceived and... Read more

Grit Martinez and Michael J. Paolisso 2015: "Cultural Dynamics of Adaptation to Climate Change: An Example from the East Coast of the US", in: Bernd Sommer (ed.): Cultural Dynamics of Climate Change and the Environment in Northern America. [Climate and Culture 3]. Leiden: Brill, 304-332.

In the article "Why do we decide to live with risk at the coast?" recently published in "Ocean and Coastal Management", Dr. Grit Martinez of Ecologic Institute and Susana Costas and Prof. Oscar Ferreira of the University of Algarve explore risk perception in a community... Read more

Costas S., Ferreira ,O., Martinez, G., Why do we decide to live with risk at the coast? In: Ocean and Coastal Management, available online 30 May 2015, In Press.

Bray, Dennis and Grit Martinez 2014: "Climate-change lore and its implications for climate science: Post-science deliberations?". Futures, Vol. 66, No. February 2015, 54-69. ... Read more

Bray, Dennis and Grit Martinez 2014: “Climate-change lore and its implications for climate science: Post-science deliberations?”. Futures, Vol. 66, No. February 2015, 54-69.

This November, the latest climate report for Germany, titled "Climate Change in Germany: Development, Consequences, Risks and Perspectives", was published. For the first time, climate change in Germany has been assessed from an interdisciplinary and comprehensive... Read more

Petra Mahrenholz et. al. 2016: Optionen zur Weiterentwicklung von Anpassungsstrategien. in: Brasseur, Guy P., Jacob, Daniela, Schuck-Zöller, Susanne (Hrsg.) 2016: Klimawandel in Deutschland. Springer-Verlag: Heidelberg.

A changing climate is not only a phenomenon addressing the natural world. Social aspects are also a cause of and are affected by climate change, for which reason social dynamics must be considered in climate change adaptation. Being key factors in creating and solving... Read more

Martinez, Grit; Peter Fröhle and Hans-Joachim Meier (eds.) 2014: Social Dimension of Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Regions. Findings from Transdisciplinary Research. [Klimawandel in Regionen zukunftsfähig gestalten 5]. Munich: oekom Verlag.

Coastal communities in the U.S. and in the EU are increasingly aware of the existing and possible impacts of climate change. Over 123 million Americans and nearly half of European citizens live on or near their respective coasts. Adapting to ongoing and future climate... Read more

Martinez, Grit; Orbach, Mike; Frick, Fanny; Donargo, Alexandra, Ducklow, Kelsey; Morison, Nathalie  2014: "The cultural context of climate change adaptation: Cases from the U.S. East Coast and the German Baltic Sea Coast", in: Grit Martinez; Hans-Joachim Meier and Peter Fröhle (eds.): Social Dimensions of Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Regions - Findings from Transdisciplinary Research. Munich: oekom verlag, 85-103.

The volume "Sites of Remembering: Landscapes, Lessons, Policies" of the Rachel Carson Centres' journal called "Perspectives" bridges the gap between humanities research and public policy. It uses a diverse selection of examples from worldwide memory studies to... Read more

Caroline Fredriksson, Grit Martinez, Magnus Larson, and Beate Feldmann Eellend, Using Historical Storms for Flood Risk Management: The 1872 Storm in South Sweden, In: Lakhani, Vikas, and Eveline de Smalen, eds. "Sites of Remembering: Landscapes, Lessons, Policies," RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society 2018, DOI:

This study presents information about the storms in 1872 and 1904 that occurred along the coast of Scania that is analysed with respect to the evolution of risk awareness, vulnerability, and societies' resilience over time. The article, to which Dr. Grit Martinez from... Read more

Fredriksson; C., Feldmann Eellend, B., Larson; M., Martinez, G., The role of historical storm events in risk analysis. A study of the coastal flood events in 1872 and 1904 along the South and East Coast of Scania, Sweden, Vatten, Journal of Water Management and Research, pp 73:93 – 108, Lund 2017

This paper presents a new approach to guiding coastal stakeholders about making informed decisions about Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) measures and alternatives. As part of the RISC-KIT project and tool box, the paper presents a holistic DRR measure approach including... Read more

Stelljes, N.; Martinez G.; McGlade, K. (2017). Introduction to the RISC-KIT Web Based Management Guide for DRR in European Coastal Zones. RISC-KIT Project.

Martinez, Grit and Mike K. Orbach 2014: "Küstenschutz – Europa und USA im Vergleich", in: Heike Leitschuh et al. (eds.): Jahrbuch Ökologie 2015. Re-Naturierung. Stuttgart: S. Hirzel Verlag, 214-222. ... Read more

Martinez, Grit and Mike K. Orbach 2014: "Küstenschutz – Europa und USA im Vergleich", in: Heike Leitschuh et al. (eds.): Jahrbuch Ökologie 2015. Re-Naturierung. Stuttgart: S. Hirzel Verlag, 214-222.

© Aaron Best
In December 2017 the publication "Creative Environment – a guide to art and sustainability initiatives in Berlin" was published by Ecologic Institute. The guide is the result of Ecologic Institute's inaugural Writer-in-Residence program. Curator Yasmine Ostendorf spent... Read more

Ostendorf, Yasmine 2017: Creative Environment. A guide to art and sustainability initiatives in Berlin. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

All publications on Culture + Ecology
Selected Events for Culture + Ecology
The conference will introduce results of four BONUS projects ending in 2018: BONUS BALTICAPP, BONUS GO4BALTIC, BONUS MIRACLE and BONUS SOILS2SEA. Novel approaches for managing nutrients, as well as governance approaches for the Baltic Sea region will be presented for... Read more
Climate Change, the Science Policy Interface and Coastal Zone Management
How should coastal zones be managed to best adapt to the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise? What is the severity of the threats involved, and what are the decisions and tradeoffs that must be made? How should the scientific community navigate the... Read more
| © Ecologic Institute
The Baltic Sea is among the most polluted water bodies in the world because of poor land and water management in the basin. In many cases, water resources in the Baltic Sea region are transboundary and flow across national borders linking neighbours in management and... Read more
All events on Culture + Ecology
Selected Presentations for Culture + Ecology

For the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2020, Julius Hübener, graduate of the Beuth University of Applied Sciences, brought Ed Hawkins' "Warming Stripes" as an artistic light installation to Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt under the direction of Prof. Susanne Auffermann.


Photo: BBAW, Judith Affolter

Humans have been creating images of the world they inhabit since the stone ages. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science looked extensively at this topic under the motto "Weltbilder" (Images of the world) during the annual Salon Sophie Charlotte in Berlin. Dr. Camilla... Read more
Handschriftliche Erläuterung zum Bau eines Ringdeiches im Jahr 1873 ("Der Wall") in der Gemeinde Ummanz auf Rügen (Quelle: Mursewiek, Jan; Dorfbuch von Lieschow ,1947)
In the first week of July the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) had invited to its 8th Biennial Conference to Versailles. Under the motto "Greening history: Studying the environment across disciplines: past, present, future" environmental historians from... Read more

Speech:History for a Sustainable Future | 8th Biennial Conference

Versailles, France
| Dr. Grit Martinez (Ecologic Institut)
From 4 until 6 September 2016 the Estuarine & Coastal Sciences Association (ECSA) held its 56th multidisciplinary research conference entitled "Coastal systems in transition from a 'natural' to an 'anthropogenically modified' state" in the port city of Bremen. ECSA... Read more
From 11 until 14 June 2018 transitions scholars and stakeholders from around the world met for the 9th International Sustainability Transitions (IST) conference in Manchester (United Kingdom). For almost a decade IST has been providing a forum for debate on all aspects... Read more

Panel discussion:Sustainability Transitions: What is the stake of cultural conventions?

Manchester, United Kingdom
ECCA Conference 2013
Grit Martinez' presentation during the European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA) 2013 dealt with the perception of climate risks and the reasons why different measures and attitudes emerged in two communities at the German Baltic Sea coast. The research was... Read more

Speech:The Influence of Local Cultural Values on the Governance of Adaptation

Hamburg, Germany
Dr. Grit Martinez (Ecologic Institut)
As part of the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference 2015, Dr. Grit Martinez of Ecologic Institute chaired the session, "Safeguarding our Shores: Social and Cultural Dimensions of Coastal Climate Change Adaptation in Europe and the United States." During the... Read more

Chairing:Why Do Societies Adapt the Way They Do?

Copenhagen, Denmark
Grit Martinez während der Diskussionsrunde (Quelle: EUSBSR)
At the 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), Dr. Grit Martinez, Senior Fellow at Ecologic Institute outlined the research approach of the BONUS-project "Soils2Sea" at the work stream session: "Successful cooperation: research,... Read more
| Dr. Grit Martinez, Ecologic Institut
In her keynote speech at the 10th German Climate Conference, Dr. Grit Martinez (Ecologic Institute) gave an overview of how the consequences of climate change have been addressed by human society during the past decades. While there was a strong focus on climate change... Read more

Speech:Everyone on Board? – Climate Change Adaptation as a Holistic Societal Challenge

Hamburg, Germany

Dr. Grit Martinez


© Ecologic Institute

The RADOST (Regional Adaptation Strategies for the German Baltic Sea Coast) project, coordinated by Ecologic Institute, concerns itself beyond its regional emphasis also with the exchange of positive experiences in the implementation of climate change adaptation... Read more

Chairing:RADOST in Exchange with Coastal Planners in the USA

Charleston, SC, United States
All presentations on Culture + Ecology