University of Calgary

Chui-Ling Tam

  • Assistant Professor
  • +1 (403) 220-5593


Ph.D. - University of Waterloo
M.A. - National University of Singapore
B.J. with Law - Carleton University


Chui-Ling joined the Department of Geography in 2010 from the former Faculty of Communication and Culture, where she had taught primarily in the Development Studies Program, with a particular focus on environment, sustainability and participatory development. She is a 12-year journalism veteran with daily newspapers and international news agencies in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. Her experiences in Asia led to discomfort with economic development and conservation, eventually prompting her to return to Canada to study the social challenges of resource development and environmental management.

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.

Research Interests

Chui-Ling's research priority is marginalized populations in marginal space. Her research focuses on the social and cultural forces entwined with communication of environmental problems and solutions and how such forces can inform participation and innovation in resource development and management. She is concerned with how power relations are expressed through communication strategies and spaces, and their implications for knowledge transfer, decision-making and citizen engagement to promote resilience and sustainability. She is also interested in the intersection and transformative potential of journalism, economic rationality and environmentalism. Her current research is primarily among marine communities and parks in Indonesia, Southeast Asia and the Canadian Arctic, and populations connected to the Alberta oil economy.

Current projects
Climate communication and adaptation: engaging maritime publics in resource management
Entrepreneurial activism, ecological citizenship and communication networks in the Alberta oil industry


Journal articles

Tam, CL (2019) Branding Wakatobi: marine development and legitimation by science. Ecology and Society 24(3):23. doi:10.5751/ES-11095-240323 

Tam, CL (2018) Notes on a caribou hearing: Spatial marginalization through participatory democracy in western Nunavut. The Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadien. doi: 10.1111/cag.12443.

Escobar Torio, JJ and Tam, CL (2017) Indigenous power struggles in the Peruvian Amazon: A spatio-cultural analysis of communication, Environmental Communicationdoi:10.1080/17524032.2017.1371055

Tam, CL (2015) Timing exclusion and communicating time: a spatial analysis of participation failure in an Indonesian MPA. Marine Policy. 54: 122-129. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2015.01.001

Tam, CL and Davidsen, C (2010) Low-technology multidisciplinary teaching in the Amazon: challenging epistemologies and learning patterns. The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, 6(6): 113-122.

Davidsen, C and Tam, CL (2010) Power and knowledge constraints of multidisciplinary learning: field school experiences in practice. Journal of the World Universities Forum, 3(4): 119-126. doi:10.18848/1835-2030/CGP/v03i04/56697

Armitage, D and Tam, CL (2007) A political ecology of sustainable livelihoods in coastal Sulawesi, IndonesiaCanadian Journal of Development Studies. 28(1):39-57. doi:10.1080/02255189.2007.9669187

Tam, CL (2006) Harmony hurts: participation and silent conflict at an Indonesian fish pond. Environmental Management. 38(1):1-15. doi:10.1007/s00267-004-8851-4

Book chapters

Tam, CL (2019) Toward communicative space: A maritime agora of backrooms and thoroughfares. In K Hunt, S Depoe and G Walker, eds. Breaking Boundaries: Innovative Practices in Environmental Communication, pp. 203-226. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 

Tam, CL (2015) Canada's role in global sustainability: Successes, failures and opportunities. In B Mitchell, ed. Resource and Environmental Management in Canada: Addressing Conflict and Uncertainty, 5th edition, 30-54. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 

Tam, CL (2010) Canada in the World: Globalization, Development, and Environment. In B Mitchell, ed., Resource and Environmental Management in Canada: Addressing Conflict and Uncertainty, Fourth Edition, 21-46. Don Mills, ON,: Oxford University Press.

Tam, CL (2005) Communication and project fit: lessons from a failed fish pond project in the Tiworo Straits. In T Babcock, R Nurkin and S Wismer, eds., From Sky to Sea: Environment and Development in Sulawesi, 611-647. Waterloo, ON: University of Waterloo Department of Geography.

Tam, CL (2005) Communication, context and coasts: sharing understanding in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. In D Shrubsole and N Watson, eds., Sustaining Our Futures: Reflections on Environment, Economy and Society, 365-407. Waterloo, ON: University of Waterloo Department of Geography.


Tam, CL (2005) Student Study Guide to accompany P Dearden and B Mitchell, Environmental Change and Challenge, Second Edition. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

Research notes and letters

Montesanti, S, Nduagu, E, Tam, CL, Smits, J, Thurston, WE, Draper, D, Gerlach, C, Gates, I  (2014) Count the social cost of oil sands too, Nature 513: 172, 11 September.

Tam, CL (2013) Hearing other voices on the margins of marine conservation in Wakatobi. The Canadian Council for Southeast Asian Studies’ Newsletter 11(3): 16-17. 

Public outreach

Tam, CL (2018) Why we should stop labelling people climate change deniers. The Conversation Canada, Dec. 3, 2018.

Chui-Ling Tam's Blog


Past Courses

CUSP 605 Approaches to Development Theory and Praxis
DEST 201 Introduction to Development Studies
DEST 375 Gender and Development
DEST 393 Theories and Application of Development
DEST 401.06 Special Topics in Development Studies: Civic Participation and Indigenous Livelihoods (Amazon GSP)
DEST 405 Environment and Development
GEOG 340 Qualitative Methods in Human-Environmental Research
GEOG 391 Geographic Field Studies
GEOG 425 Critical Approaches to Development: Theory and Applications
GEOG 463 Cities, Poverty and Development
GEOG 695.01 Seminar in Geographic Research Methods - Qualitative Methods
GNST 201 Inquiry Seminar: Identity, Participation and Place-Making
UBST 311 The Gendered City

Powered by UNITIS. More features.