Profile of Miss Giusy Pappalardo University

Giusy Pappalardo

In 2010, I developed a master thesis working closely with a distressed community aimed at regenerating the Simeto River Valley, in my native context, Sicily, IT. In 2011/2013, I attended a PhD program in Environmental Planning and Design, still in my hometown, Catania. I conducted part of my research abroad, working with another distressed community in Mississippi (USA), with a EU-funded scholarship and a Fulbright Fellowship. I have justed completed a Postdoc research project about Ecological and democratic challenges in coastal areas as well as in inner lands. I currently serve as co-editor for the AESOP Young Academics Booklets project.

General research interests

I am interested in developing Action Research (AR) in places with environmental and social challenges. I have spent most of my research path in Southern contexts such as Sicily (South Europe) and Mississippi (South USA), reflecting about similarities of these contexts. In many cases, I have explored the dynamics of power that shape the ecosystems. In my home Country, I faced the peculiar issue of the "landscapes of the mafia". I am interested in community-based approaches for improving democratic institutions, in environmental and social justice, environmental humanities, political ecology and socio-natures.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Starting from the River Again. Community Processes to Regenerate Spoiled Ecosystems

PhD Abstract

Rivers and their ecosystems are a vital core of human societies: not only do they provide resources, in particular for rural economies, they also generate symbolic meanings in different cultures around the world. The Dissertation focuses on how watershed planning and management can be enhanced with the purpose of improving the relationship of human communities and natural ecosystems. This work is located within the growing debate, in the field of environmental planning, focused on the necessity to integrate scientific knowledge with a broader understanding of how social-ecological system works (Gunderson and Hollings 2001) and how communities use various types of knowledge to innovate the way they relate with natural resources; (Ostrom 2009, Fischer 2009). Two detailed cases are presented: the Mississippi communities relating with the Delta-Yazoo River basin and Pascuagoula River basin, MS, U.S.A.; the Simeto communities relating with the Simeto River Valley, Sicily, Italy. In both cases, innovating watershed planning through stakeholders collaboration faces significant difficulties, related with long-term socio-cultural struggles. Mississippi is explored through Case Study Research; the inquiry identifies the necessity of questioning bottom-up and collaborative practices in the light of reflections about dynamics of power; research also shows that even in a very challenging context there are windows of opportunities; in this case, various stakeholders agree on the necessity of improving various forms of education, integrating environmental and social-cultural issues. The Mississippi case highlights a clear indication, for planning discipline, to bridge the traditional divide between scientific environmental knowledge and the problem of democracy. The Simeto case is a narrative of the direct engagement of the author in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) process, which was generated with questions about the need of linking environmental restoration with social-cultural and democratic innovations, so that the Mississippi conclusions are the starting point of the Simeto narrative. According with the nature of PAR methodology, in which knowledge is collectively produced and continuously reshaped through action, the narrative shows how the Simeto community has learned through a democratic approach to research, in order to innovate watershed planning, to promote the democratic dialogue and to affect institutions. From a methodological standpoint, the Dissertation discusses how Case Study Research relates with Participatory Action Research. The Dissertation offers various details on practical devices, mostly related to the need of facing challenges and changes through a process of collective re-framing and through community-based education, not only to enhance the health of river s ecosystem, but also to improve communities quality of life. Fischer, F., 2009. Democracy & Expertise. Reorienting policy inquiry. Oxford University Press. Gunderson, L., Holling C., 2001. Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems. Island Press. Ostrom, E., 2009. A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems, Science.

Latest deposited documents

Rethinking environmental protection from common experience: responsible collaboration between laypeople and planners. image
Rethinking environmental protection from common experience: responsible collaboration between laypeople and planners. (June 2011)

Despite the fact that the issue of preserving rich natural ecosystems usually perceive human activities as always destructive, Environmental...

Rethinking environmental protection from common experience: responsible collaboration between laypeople and planners. image
Rethinking environmental protection from common experience: responsible collaboration between laypeople and planners. (February 2011)

Despite the fact that the issue of preserving rich natural ecosystems usually perceive human activities as always destructive, Environmental...