Dr. Dean Hardy’s training and education span from marine sciences to human geography. As a geographer trained to work across ways of knowing socio-environmental challenges, he investigates landscapes as socio-natural, drawing on environmental justice studies, political ecology, hazards geography, and critical race theory. A graduate of the University of Georgia’s Integrative Conservation and Geography PhD Program, Dean is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia jointly appointed in the School of the Earth, Ocean, and Environment, as well as the Department of Geography. He is also an affiliated investigator with the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded, Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long-Term Ecological Research Program. At SESYNC, Dean examined how flood risk via rising seas is shaped by ongoing uneven racial development and changing socio-ecological relations. He focused on synthesizing social and environmental data from Sapelo Island, Georgia—a place with extensive documentation of its cultural and environmental change available via studies of its people’s Gullah Geechee heritage—as well as two ecological research programs (the University of Georgia Marine Institute and the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve). His results show how the historical geography of race relations continues to shape today's coastal landscapes (Hardy and Heynen 2021), particularly via flood risk through what is called "legacy vulnerability." Specifically, Dean’s research reveals how current sociodemographic and climatic change via rising seas may create a "double dispossession" of Sapelo Island’s Saltwater Geechee people and, more broadly, underrepresented communities living in coastal regions.
2016 - 2019
Areas of Expertise
sea level rise
Methods of Expertise
Article published in Nature Communications
Article published in Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Article published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change