Research

As landscapes gradually shift around us, my research examines how communities and governance institutions adapt to slower-moving climate crises over time. In my interdisciplinary research, I ask questions like: How do individuals perceive and manage climate change in their daily lives? How are relationships to land, home, and policy shifting with the changing climate? How do governance institutions shape the adaptation contexts in which individuals operate, and the consequences of those adaptations over time?


Everyday Adaptation


My first strand of research considers how the changing climate spurs adaptations in people’s decisions such as the jobs they choose, the places where they live, or how they make material investments. At the micro-level, I find everyday adaptations to be the precedent to and an alternative for climate change migration that are differentially available to those with differing levels of social and economic resources. Unmanaged adaptation is a social process, shaped by people’s risk perceptions, resources, and overall resilience to adjust their lives to new climate conditions. I study the social process of micro-level, community, and institutional adaptation to climate change. Learn more about this work here.


Climate Change Migration


Climate change requires us to upend traditional ways of thinking about and studying migration. I address inconsistent findings on migration in the context of climate change through longitudinal, qualitative analyses of migrations in response to slow-onset climate stressors. Rather than only focusing on those who move, I consider both those who migrate and those who stay in place through climate change stressors of varying severity. This work contributed to a report for UN Women you can check out here.


Land and Displacement


One way that I study the uneven social impacts of climate change is through the lens of land rights and displacement. Displacement can take multiple forms, and impacts indigenous and socioeconomically vulnerable groups at higher rates and in different ways. Though disaster displacement receives much attention in climate change scholarship and environmental sociology, I focus on displacement related to land tenure and the shifting land- and resource-scapes expediated by climate change. I have examined forms of displacement from communal land titling in Colombia, to land tenure in the climate crisis in post-conflict contexts, forced eviction in urban environments, and cases of displacement through land subsidence.