Behavioral Economist Examines Local Policy Challenges with Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

March 28 talk will explore how local villages participate in economic recovery effort

By Robert Parsons

Liam Carr

Liam Carr

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Liam Carr, a Fulbright Scholar researching policy challenges affecting local economies in Ireland, will explore issues faced by Irish communities that participate in the Wild Atlantic Way tourist attraction on Monday, March 28, at UC Riverside.

This event will be held in HUB 265 from 12:30 to 2 p.m., and will be hosted by the UCR School of Public Policy Seminar Series. It is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested and can be made online. Parking permits may be obtained at the kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

When Ireland’s Tourism Board created the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal route of 1553 miles, the idea was to generate tourism after the economy collapsed in 2008. It is a public-private investment worth over $11 million. This large-scale economic recovery effort is a national priority, but it is up to communities along the historic and scenic route to decide whether or not to support the project.

Originally, the Wild Atlantic Way was packaged as a singular tourist attraction to spur the economy. However, there are over 250 towns and villages that ultimately make the decision to embrace it or not. Local communities, then, distribute promotional efforts unevenly. One community might be more committed to bringing awareness to tourism, while another community might be more committed to its own unique identity without the disturbance of tourism. Many communities along the coast are simply trying to improve their own local economies.

“Some communities are embracing it and putting up coordinated signage and public marketing,” Carr says. Other communities are holding off, waiting to see what the Wild Atlantic Way could do for other communities. Some villages fear that the tourism effort will cause a loss of identity to their village and replace it with a sort of “Disney-fixation” for tourists, he says.

Carr is a behavioral economist who researches public policy surrounding the development and use of marine and coastal resources  His work has taken him to Australia and throughout the Caribbean, where he has examined how socioeconomic behaviors can help shape more sustainable management policies for both tourism and fisheries.

As a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar at the Whitaker Institute at the National University of Ireland, Galway, his focus remains on how local economies are handling larger level, national economic recovery plans to improve the overall economy. He holds a Ph.D. in geography from Texas A&M University, a master of forest science from Yale University, and a B.S. in marine biology and B.A. in environmental studies from the University of Southern California.

The UCR School of Public Policy (SPP) is the latest addition to the University of California, Riverside academic enterprise. With a Master of Public Policy program launched in fall 2015, the school is training a new generation of forward-thinking public policy leaders equipped to address the complex, interrelated challenges of poverty, disease, climate change, pollution and more. The SPP includes five research centers: the Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies, the One Health Center (which is part of the UC Global Health Institute), the Blum Initiative for Global and Regional Poverty, and the Immigration Research Group.

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