More than Maps at the Festival of Social Sciences

More than Maps at the Festival of Social Sciences

Managing Seaweed through More than Maps was a two-part workshop for A-Level students hosted by SARTRAC for the Festival of Social Sciences. On 11-12 November, thirty sixth form students joined us virtually for two workshops on developing their mapping and social science skills.

The SARTRAC project is researching opportunities for equitable resilience and transformational adaptation to be gained from Sargassum. The seaweed Sargassum has been washing up on tropical Atlantic beaches (Caribbean and West Africa) in large quantities since 2011, affecting fisheries, tourism and other sectors and livelihoods. Using Sargassumas an example of a complex adaptation challenge, akin to and possibly driven by climate change, students learned basic coding skills as well as stakeholder analysis.


More than Maps workshops aimed to develop the mapping and social science skills of A-Level students.


On day one, Environmental Change and Sustainability PGR Yanna Fidai led the students through the role for mapping and remote sensing in mapping hazards and challenges such as Sargassum. Together, Yanna and the students applied the theory in practice: using open source Google Earth Engine to map Sargassuminfluxes in the Caribbean. Students were proactive in asking further questions on the code, and continuing with the content outside of the workshop!

Yanna reflected, “Sharing knowledge on managing environmental phenomenon was a really eye-opening experience. There’s so much information and so many different skills that we all have and passing that on to each other has been a learning curve for me.”

On day two, Environmental Change and Sustainability research assistant Dr Heather Brown introduced social sciences methods to explore the human dimension of adaptation. Using Sargassumas a case study, the students were introduced to stakeholder analysis as a method by which to identify relevant actors in a policy problem, as well as analyse their influence and impacts in that policy domain.

Dr Brown reflected, “I really enjoyed delivering the workshops to students to teach them about how social science can inform climate change adaptation. The interactive parts of the workshop were engaging and facilitated interesting discussion between myself and the students on their thoughts about climate change and stakeholder analyses.”

One student generously commented at the close of the workshops: “I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and learnt a lot! I loved that the two sessions covered different yet closely related topics.”

Day 2 – Students’ self-reported learning outcomes (generated using

Professor Emma Tompkins, SARTRAC project lead, summarised the workshops as: “Exciting and fun! In an online platform, ‘More than Maps’ brought together remote sensing experts, and social scientists to share methods for addressing pressing and complex present-day environmental challenges. The A-Level students seemed to be completed engaged in the sessions, actively working on how to resolve the problem of seaweed inundations across the Tropical Atlantic basin.”

For more information on the SARTRAC project, visit:

Contact Sien van der Plank at information on future More than Maps workshops.

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