This course will explore theoretical, methodological and applied aspects of social impact analysis (SIA). Many environmental professionals become involved in social impact analysis during their careers on a recurring basis. Forms of SIA are a mandated component of key oceans and environmental policies, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (National Standard 8). Moreover, sound social impact analysis is an important and powerful tool for good environmental planning in marine and coastal systems whether or not it is required by law, relates to government action, or is focused on the United States
Generally speaking, SIA addresses the social impacts of events or actions. The events or actions that precipitate an SIA include such things as planned physical or environmental changes, the implementation of policies or regulations, or conservation interventions. SIAs can be post hoc, where SIA seeks to understand the impacts of a past event, or ex ante, where SIA seeks to predict the impacts of an event. SIA can also be used to monitor and adapt to ongoing events and actions. In all cases, however, good SIA should involve all potentially affected groups, should consider impact equity and differences by location and socio-economic status, and should consider a holistic and contextually grounded range of impacts, from the socio-cultural to the economic.
This course will first develop an understanding of some of the core concepts and applicable sociological theory upon which the design of social impact analysis is built. The first part of the course will develop the capacity to ‘think sociologically’ about environmental problems and the impacts that they create. Next, we will review some of the key US policies and guidelines that require and inform SIA. The third part will provide an overview of some of the key methods and approaches that are used in SIA to generate more inclusive decisions that protect the environment and integrity of the communities that share its abundance and meaning. Throughout we will review and critique a range of US and international SIA examples.