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Research Projects 


Climate Change and Citizenship

Climate change is already occurring and transforming peoples and places around the globe in complex and inter-connected ways. As a global problem with varying and differentiated local impacts, climate change challenges how we conventionally think about scale and problem solving, as well as how we live our lives and what we hold dear.  Climate change mitigation – or the effort to stop climate disruption – requires global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, whereas climate change adaptation – or the effort to respond to experienced or predicted climate disruption – requires local responses to problems like rising sea levels, droughts, severe storms, and soil degradation.  

Many scholars are studying climate change as a scientific phenomenon with multiple and diffuse variabilities, uncertainties, and outcomes (e.g. increased storms, floods, droughts, etc.) while others are attending to the social and economic impacts of climate change (e.g. on health, agricultural production, economies, resource use, etc.). However, no one has asked how a problem that is caused globally but addressed locally might change how individuals perceive and enact citizenship. Our program intends to do that. In particular, we ask: What are the ways that climate change is reconfiguring and challenging what citizenship means, how it is debated, and how it is practiced and lived in everyday life at multiple scales? We believe that climate change’s impacts on all aspects of life means that political and social realities that might have at one point been taken for granted are evolving, changing, and contested. 

This project is part of the Maxwell Tenth Decade Project.

Faculty: Farhana Sultana, Catherine Gerard, Pete Wilcoxen, Sarah Pralle, Paul Hirsch


Building Community Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change Across Sites, Groups, and Scales 

Social scientists are paying increased attention to human adaptation to climate change, attempting to understand how, where, and when climate change adaptation is occurring (or not), and the challenges involved. As part of the Moynihan Challenge, a diverse group of scholars have been brought togehter to discuss how different disciplines are approaching and studying climate adaptation. This workshop in 2016 aimed to enhance critical conversations about climate change adaptation across academic disciplines, thereby engaging with different perspectives that can foster integrative analyses and further collaborations. We hope to generate actionable research topics for future study and ideas about how social science research can further contribute to practitioners and policy-makers working on climate adaptation projects around the world.

Faculty: Farhana Sultana, Catherine Gerard, Pete Wilcoxen, Sarah Pralle


Exploring the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) National Program Development in Biodiversity Conservation: A Comparative Study of India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh 

This research explores on how the IUCN, as an international organization (IO) goes about building nature protection programs in states with different capacities. Further, it explores how conflicts around nature protection priorities and approaches are promoted or addressed by IUCN at various scales – local to international.

Data collection included 134 face to face interviews (India 15; Nepal 15; Pakistan 16; Bangladesh 17; IUCN HQ 42; IUCN ARO 12; Barcelona 17= 134), and 119 email or phone interviews. The transcription process has begun and preliminary result shows that the IUCN has been playing a key role in addressing the natural resource conflicts within nation and beyond (transboundary).  The IUCN case on conflict mitigation was presented in Delhi, Dhaka, Karachi and Kathmandu. Preliminary results will also be presented in Geneva at the International conference on the role of International organization and also in Gland, Switzerland (in IUCN) in January 2011.

Faculty: Steven R. Brechin and Medani Bhandari


The Right to Water 

In recent years, struggles over the right to water have emerged as a focal point for political mobilization in a range of locations around the world. Although formalized in the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 15 of 2002, political actions have now focused on realizing this possibility in specific contexts.

The Right to Water conference took place on 29‐30 March 2010 at Syracuse University. The conference generated significant new insights into how to understand, recognize, and apply a human right to water in differing geographical contexts – and bring increased geographical sensitivity to calls for a universal right to water. Regions covered in the presentations included North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Australia. A post‐conference publication, in the form of an edited collection, was published with the key contributions to take these exemplary debates and contributions forward as a critical resource for future research and action. The book is Farhana Sultana and Alex Loftus, 2012, The Right to Water: Politics, Governance, and Social Struggles, Earthscan Water Text Series, Routledge: NY and London. 

Faculty: Farhana Sultana