Sustainable Development in the Arctic Mapping Social Values in Iceland

Beginning with a pilot study in Iceland supported by a Fulbright fellowship, Janelle Knox-Hayes will examine the influence of cultural values on decision-making and policy with respect to sustainable development in the Arctic. The project is designed to investigate the dynamic tensions of sustainable development at the interface of culture and political economy by examining meanings and practices of sustainability as they are mediated through initiatives that operate across global and local scales. Through in-depth fieldwork, interviews, surveys and GIS visualization, Dr. Knox-Hayes will study how cultural, political and economic institutions influence concepts and processes of sustainability. One of the goals of the study is to identify core values of sustainable development as well as potential bridge concepts, terms that bridge scientific rational and normative value. Bridge concepts are essential to the creation of new metrics of valuation. Using surveys and GIS techniques these concepts will then be compared across socio demographic characteristics and geographically mapped. By addressing the transmission and syncretic internalization of sustainability within cultural context, the project provides a basis for building flexibility into international environmental discourses and agreements as well as a path towards the creation of more sustainable mechanisms of valuation.