Luke Fairbanks, PhD  |  Ocean and coastal social science


I’m a human geographer and environmental social scientist based in Beaufort, North Carolina, where I'm a Research Scientist at Duke University Marine Lab. My research explores human-environment interactions, focusing on ocean and coastal spaces, resources, governance, and policies. My primary work is a project exploring the broad range of values and attitudes people associate with seafood production in North Carolina. The research is a collaboration with colleagues at Duke, the University of Maine, and the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute. My other work includes research on the human dimensions of large marine protected areas (LMPAs), critical perspectives on marine spatial planning (MSP) in the United States, and the development of US marine aquaculture policy. For more about my research click here or check out the links below.

Recent news

Two new articles out on LMPAs and MSP. Check them out! (and head over to Research for more.)

Gruby et al. 2017. Conceptualizing social outcomes of large marine protected areas. Coastal Management. [Open Access Link; Also see our article in The Conversation!]

Fairbanks et al. 2018. Assembling Enclosure: Reading Marine Spatial Planning for Alternatives. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. [Limited Open Access Link]


My research explores human-environment relationships in the context of oceans. How do we balance the need for seafood and conservation? How are ocean, fisheries, and aquaculture policies produced and enacted? How do different actors—state and non-state, human and non-human—assemble the oceans and governance systems around us?


Teaching is an important piece of my work. In the classroom I aim to help students place environmental issues in the broader context of society, economy, governance, and community–and critically examine the relationships between them.


Detailed information on my work and research experience, including links to my publications and a full CV.