The making of expertise: identity and knowledge of the coastal professional

Ms Naomi Edwards1

1Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Gold Coast, Australia


The coastal professional is a key powerbroker and architect for the management of the coastal zone. Thus far there has been a limited critique of the coastal professional. Here, the coastal professional is understood as an umbrella term that encompasses a broad group of disciplinary-based professions reflective of the varying and changing expertise in coastal management. Imagine bureaucrats, consultants, researchers and advocates that have a core focus and concern about the coast. This presentation presents novel findings of an in-depth, interdisciplinary project that investigated the coastal professional in Australia. 36 coastal professionals representing diverse disciplines and experience participated to understand their pathways in coastal management. The analysis offers a deeper, more personal dimension to critically understand the “making” of the coastal professional. While there was a distinct commonality among all participants with childhood experiences impacting their curiosity and connection with the coast, there were clear conflicts regarding current and future ambitions. These insights offer an insider perspective on the implications of the coastal professional’s identity and knowledge. This presentation invites a discussion to further investigate the coastal professional to ensure their “making” is reflective and reflexive to be prepared to think in new ways given the climate has changed.


Naomi Edwards is known to challenge how to rethink how we approach coastal dilemmas. Her more recent work has involved (almost) completing a PhD in critical scholarship that challenges the idea of consensus; instead, enable spaces to confront an uncomfortable narrative about how the coast is managed. Naomi holds membership with many not-for-profit organisations, is a co-founder of Intrepid Landcare and is co-chair of National Surfing Reserves.