A Transformations Transect as Social Innovation: COBALT Network Forms in the Gulf of Maine to Develop the Concept


  • Glenn Page
  • Holly E. Parker, Ph.D.
  • Samuel Matey
  • Michael F. Tlusty, Ph.D.
  • J. Cedric Woods


transformation transect, social inequity, rural-urban divide, anthropocene era, wicked problems


The global pandemic has demonstrated that our most pressing issues are interrelated in multiple, hard to define ways. Governments alone are ill-equipped to deal with the complex array of issues presented by the Earth of the Anthropocene, such as social inequity; rural-urban divide; disruption of food systems and supply chains; disintegration of natural ecosystems; and the sheer magnitude of climate change. A new research network known as COBALT (Collaborative for Bioregional Action Learning & Transformation) will use a novel Transformation Transect that follows a road network from the tip of Cape Cod to Nova Scotia’s Cape Sable Island. This transect offers a lens into the nested nature of ecosystem governance across an urban to rural region that can illuminate how government, civil society and market forces can create positive momentum to respond to ecosystem change in coastal regions of the Gulf of Maine.

The research network will take the novel approach of visualizing governance transformations along the Gulf of Maine transect through a bioregional macroscope lens. We will address the following research questions:

  • When have crises along the Gulf of Maine transect become windows of opportunity for innovation and novelty?
  • When have societal and ecological transitions along the transect been mishandled and led to today’s wicked problems?
  • What insights can be applied from these past crises and transitions to inform how the examined bioregions can successfully move from preparation for to navigation of governance transformation in response to the Gulf of Maine’s rapidly changing ecosystem?

Author Biographies

Glenn Page

For over 30 years, Glenn has been working on creating pathways to transformation of our coastal communities across the globe.  He did his graduate work at Johns Hopkins University in interdisciplinary marine science and has been working at the interface of science, policy and practice. As restoration ecologist by training, he “grew up” designing and building natural systems (i.e. dunes, rivers, wetlands and forests), focusing on ecosystem function, equivalency and valuation. Currently, he is the President/CEO of SustainaMetrix, focused on “Navigating in the Anthropocene” as Glenn leads a team of interdisciplinary experts who brings innovation, evaluation and systems thinking to complex, messy, cross-scale, wicked challenges of our time. A major contribution has been his work in forming the Transformations Systems Mapping & Analysis Global Working Group with over 120 leaders in social and ecological systems mapping, integrating leaders from the Geodesign community with leaders of the SDG Transformations Forum, Regenerative Communities Network and Blue Marble Evaluation that he has helped to launch.  This collaborative, cross-scale work over the past three decades has attracted the interest from and collaboration with United Nations, IUCN, World Bank, IMF, WEF, Stockholm Resilience Center, and a wide range of philanthropies and academic institutions.

Holly E. Parker, Ph.D.

Holly Parker brings a broad range of experience and perspective to her work at UNE. An educator for more than 20 years, Holly has worked in traditional, experiential and digital classroom settings.  She has collaborated with school systems in Alaska and the USVI to develop standards-aligned, interdisciplinary digital curricula, taught high school English for 14 years in boarding school settings, and directed a boat building program for at-risk youth in Maine.  An area of significant interest for Parker is collaborating with industry, educational institutions and nonprofits to deliver integrated, transformational learning opportunities to the underserved in Northern New England.  A lifelong mariner, Holly is also passionate about maritime and ocean issues impacting Maine and beyond. Holly has represented UNE and Maine three times at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland. She represents UNE on the Maine North Atlantic/Arctic Education Consortium and served on the state-sponsored Host Committee for the Arctic Council in 2016.  Holly is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, where she focused her studies on successfully addressing learning challenges in the integrated classroom. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine; her research focuses on education for sustainability leadership.

Samuel Matey

Sam Matey holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, summa cum laude, from the University of Southern Maine. He has worked as a volunteer research assistant for the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership’s forest restoration program in Kianjavato, Madagascar, and served as co-lead writer in the strategic evaluation of the Oak Foundation Marine Conservation Sub-programme. He has extensive data analysis, document review and editing, citizen science, technical writing, science journalism, ArcGIS, and literature review skills. For more on Sam, see https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-matey-a31414163/ and https://theweeklyanthropocene.weebly.com/.

Michael F. Tlusty, Ph.D.

Michael is an associate professor of sustainability & food solutions in the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts at Boston where he links science, technology, and innovation to help transform the world's aquatic food systems and to educate the next generation leaders necessary to develop integrative solutions to create enough food for our burgeoning population. His approach is to find solutions to create more food, waste less of it and to help the entire value chain do a better job creating the food we already produce. In his spare time, he uses the lessons learned in studying seafood value chains to create solutions to stop the trade of illegal wildlife products.

J. Cedric Woods

Cedric Woods is a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. He combines over a decade of tribal government experience with a research background, and has served as the director of INENAS since 2009.

The institute's purpose is to connect Native New England with university research, innovation, and education. Currently, Cedric is working on projects with tribes in the areas of tribal government capacity building, Indian education, economic development, and chronic disease prevention.

Prior to arriving at UMass Boston, Cedric completed a study on the evolution of tribal government among the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. While pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of Connecticut, he served in a variety of capacities for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. These positions included director of career development, research analyst, tribal government spokesman, and deputy chief operating officer.

Cedric has served as a consultant for the National Museum of the American Indian, the Haliwa Saponi Indian Tribe of North Carolina, and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Plimoth Plantation, a bicultural living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.




How to Cite

Page, G., Parker, Ph.D., H. E. ., Matey, S., Tlusty, Ph.D., M. F. ., & Cedric Woods, J. . (2021). A Transformations Transect as Social Innovation: COBALT Network Forms in the Gulf of Maine to Develop the Concept. Social Innovations Journal, 5. Retrieved from https://socialinnovationsjournal.com/index.php/sij/article/view/705



Social Innovation and Entreprenership