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Student Spotlight

Alumnus Profile: Stefan Claesson

Degree: Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Dissertation Title: Sustainable Development Of Maritime Cultural Heritage In The Gulf Of Maine

Advisor: Dr. Andrew Rosenberg

Description of Research

In the United States, the presence of a maritime heritage is perhaps no where more apparent than in the Gulf of Maine. A unique physical environment and a wealth of marine resources have played critical roles in the region's settlement, economic development, and cultural formation. Unfortunately, little effort has been made to preserve maritime archaeological sites, such as shipwrecks and historic waterfronts, which are tangible representations of the region's maritime history. Coastal development, marine construction, and new developments in marine survey technology are resulting in more discoveries of these non-renewable resources than ever before. However, without preservation tools and incentives to protect the public interest in these maritime archaeological resources, future generations will be denied access to this unique maritime heritage.

Sustainable development is an approach that has been used to manage natural resources for nearly 30 years, but rarely has the concept of sustainability been applied to cultural resource management in the United States. This study examines how sustainability can be applied to manage cultural resources, with shipwrecks and historic waterfronts of the Gulf of Maine as case studies. This dissertation 1) analyzes the laws and policies available for the preservation and management of shipwrecks and historic waterfronts in the Gulf of Maine, 2) establishes methods for determining the cultural and economic value of these cultural resources, 3) assesses the costs and benefits to the public of implementing a sustainable heritage, and 4) determines the role and responsibility of government in protecting the public interest in cultural heritage.

A sustainable development approach to cultural resource management will provide new tools to measure and maintain stocks of cultural heritage resources. Additionally, by providing cultural and economic value assessments of maritime cultural resources, we will be able to make informed decisions about the use of cultural resources, support coastal communities' development efforts, and offer incentives for preservation. By establishing a sustainable heritage, the maritime past of the Gulf of Maine can be preserved for future generations, keeping its people connected to the deep-rooted traditions of the region and facilitate the economic growth and development of coastal communities.