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Warning of displacement in a changing climate

Loss, choice, and uncertainty



Date & Time

February 23, 2022, 12:00 pm1:00 pm


The Department of Geography & Environmental Systems cordially invites you to join us for our Virtual Seminar Series on Wednesday, February 23rd at Noon ET.

Legal Claims and Compensation in Climate-Related Disaster

Dr. Susan Sterett
School of Public Policy
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

People warning of the harms of a changing climate warn that people will have to leave their homes. The political scientist Debra Javeline characterizes scientists' advice about displacement as reasonable and staying as potentially a matter of individual attachments, but worth studying. The dominant models focus on complete physical loss or on individual choice, missing the money (and other resources) that make it more or less possible to leave or stay in a place subject to disasters.  In this talk I will contrast the models of displacement implicit in international negotiations about compensation with how those who have studied movement after disaster in the United States, and what they conclude about people's decisionmaking. I argue that discerning why people move requires relying on information from the people themselves.

Dr. Susan Sterett is a Professor in Public Policy at UMBC. She writes on disasters and legal mobilization, with a focus on a changing climate. She currently has a manuscript under review at the University of Pennsylvania Press concerning litigating the first part of the pandemic, entitled Disaster Cascades in Court. Before joining UMBC in 2017, she worked at Virginia Tech, at the National Science Foundation, and the University of Denver. She has organized seminars on disasters and climate change at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Spain. She has written on legal mobilization and disaster, published in Law and Policy and Natural Hazards Review. She also served as co-editor of Law and Society Review.