Symposium on People and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation, Social Justice

November 18, 2016 • 12 AM – 12 AM | Washington University in St. Louis – George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Hillman Hall, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130

Climate change is a profoundly social challenge. It threatens the well-being, livelihood, and survival of people and communities worldwide. The relationship between climate change and social development is multifaceted, but we can identify two primary themes.

  1. Effects of climate change are not equally distributed, creating a social, economic, and environmental justice problem. People from developing countries, coastal nations, indigenous groups, the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, women and children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations are more likely to suffer most from harsh conditions and harmful impacts related to climate change.
  2. Responding to climate change requires not only individual and household coping and resilience, but also societal policy solutions to help households, groups, and communities successfully adapt. In other words, responding to climate change is not simply a matter of perfecting new energy technologies; it will require social innovations as well. The human and social dimensions of climate change matter immensely, yet have been relatively neglected.

The Symposium on People and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation, Social Justice aims to sharpen society’s focus on the human impacts of climate change, the social responses that must be achieved for transformational solutions, and the policy implications— local, national, and international—of such solutions.

Symposium Goals 

  • Compare existing knowledge on vulnerability and adaptation across different contexts
  • Identify where new knowledge is needed and chart a research agenda
  • Set ambitious yet reachable social policy goals (based on existing knowledge)
  • Develop a strategy and plan for reaching those goals

Guiding Questions

  1. Who is most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, and why?
  2. What adaptations are in place, and what new adaptation efforts will be required?
  3. Which social policy solutions are most critical and achievable in the next 10 years?

Symposium Leadership

  • Washington University in St. LouisMichael Sherraden, Center for Social Development, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, and Himadri Pakrasi, International Center for Advanced Renewable Energy and Sustainability
  • National University of Singapore: Jonathan Rigg, Asia Research Institute
  • University of Tennessee: Lisa Reyes Mason, College of Social Work

To register for the Symposium, please click HERE.

To view the Symposium public session agenda, please click HERE .