Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Climate Displacement
The World Bank estimates that, by 2050, 216 million people across South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America will need to migrate from their homes due to sudden disasters such as flooding and fire, slow-onset land degradation through processes such as desertification, as well as social unrest caused by resource scarcity. Climate displacement is accelerating because of climate change, and creates new adaptation challenges for both the sending and receiving regions. In this panel, we will explore the issue of climate displacement with faculty members of UC Berkeley’s new cluster in climate equity and environmental justice (Maya Carrasquillo, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Daniel Aldana Cohen, Sociology; Zoe Hamstead, City & Regional Planning; Meg Mills-Novoa, Energy & Resources Group and Department of Environmental Science; Danielle Rivera, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning). The director of UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project and the University of Toronto’s School of Cities, Professor Karen Chapple, will facilitate this lively conversation across the disciplinary perspectives of sociology, city planning, geography, engineering, and urban policy.
This panel is an Illuminations: Place and Displacement event.
All digital versions of the event included captioning.
Maya Carrasquillo is an assistant professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UC Berkeley and the PI of the JEDI (L)ab. She was previously a Management Consultant at Arcadis US in Atlanta, GA. She earned her PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of South Florida in 2020 and her BS in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2015. Her research interests include sustainable and equitable urban water infrastructure, food-energy-water systems, community engagement and citizen science in decision-making, and environmental and social justice. She is a certified Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP). She is also a College of Engineering Huelskamp Faculty Fellow.
Karen Chapple, PhD, is Professor Emerita of City & Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where she held the Carmel P. Friesen Chair in Urban Studies and served as department chair. She is currently the Director of the School of Cities and Professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. Chapple studies inequalities in the planning, development, and governance of regions in the US and Latin America, with a focus on economic development and housing.
Her recent books include Planning Sustainable Cities and Regions: Towards More Equitable Development (Routledge, 2015), which won the John Friedmann Book Award from the American Collegiate Schools of Planning; Transit-Oriented Displacement or Community Dividends? Understanding the Effects of Smarter Growth on Communities (with Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, MIT Press, 2019); and Fragile Governance and Local Economic Development: Theory and Evidence from Peripheral Regions in Latin America (with Sergio Montero, Routledge, 2018). She has published recently on a broad array of subjects, including the fiscalization of land use (in Landscape and Urban Planning), urban displacement (in the Journal of Planning Literature and Cityscape), community investment (in the Journal of Urban Affairs), job creation on industrial land (in Economic Development Quarterly), regional governance in rural Peru (in the Journal of Rural Studies), and accessory dwelling units as a smart growth policy (in the Journal of Urbanism).
In fall 2015, she co-founded the Urban Displacement Project, a research portal examining patterns of residential, commercial, and industrial displacement, as well as policy and planning solutions. In 2015, Chapple’s work on climate change and tax policy won the UC-wide competition for the Bacon Public Lectureship, which promotes evidence-based public policy and creative thinking for the public good. Chapple also received the 2017 UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Award for Research in the Public Interest. She received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award for 2017–18 to explore expanding the Urban Displacement Project to cities in Europe and Latin America, and was a visiting scholar at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, University College London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analytics, Polytechnic University of Madrid, the University of Sydney, the University of Buenos Aires, and the Universidad de los Andes. In 2018–19, she served as the senior faculty advisor in UC Berkeley’s Division of Data Sciences, and from 2019–21, she was a faculty affiliate of the School of Information. In 2020, Chapple launched the Department of City & Regional Planning’s new urban data science training program, focused on housing and transportation.
Funded by a variety of philanthropic and government sources, Chapple is currently engaged in many research projects related to inequality and sustainability planning, with a focus on residential and commercial/industrial displacement. Since 2006, she has served as faculty director of the UC Berkeley Center for Community Innovation, which has provided over $2 million in technical assistance to community-based organizations and government agencies. This has included research on the potential for gentrification and displacement near transit-oriented development (for the Association of Bay Area Governments); more effective planning for affordable housing and economic development near transit (for the Great Communities Collaborative); the relationship between the arts and commercial and residential revitalization in low-income neighborhoods; and the role of green jobs and industrial land in regional economies. She has also led a national contest sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to generate ideas for local and state job creation targeting disadvantaged communities. Additionally, Chapple has worked on regional and local economic development research projects in Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Israel, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and Abu Dhabi. She provides policy advice to many local, state, and national elected officials and has served on the Berkeley Planning Commission.
Chapple holds a BA in Urban Studies (Phi Beta Kappa) from Columbia University, an MSCRP from the Pratt Institute, and a PhD from UC Berkeley. She has served on the faculties of the University of Minnesota and the University of Pennsylvania, in addition to UC Berkeley. From 2006–09, she held the Theodore Bo and Doris Shoong Lee Chair in Environmental Design. She is a founding member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Building Resilient Regions. Prior to academia, Chapple spent 10 years as a practicing planner in economic development, land use, and transportation in New York and San Francisco.
In her courses, which are on urban analytics, community and economic development, regional planning, and planning and economic analysis methods, Chapple brings planning practice into the classroom, links scales (from the parcel to the region) and disciplines (from design to economic development), and focuses on critical, balanced evaluation of ideologies and outcomes.
Daniel Aldana Cohen
Daniel Aldana Cohen is an assistant professor of sociology at UC Berkeley, where he is the director of the Socio-Spatial Climate Collaborative, or (SC)2, and serves as a faculty affiliate in the graduate program on Political Economy. He is also Founding Co-Director of the Climate and Community Project. He is a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar (2021-23). In 2018–19, he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the co-author of A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green Deal (Verso 2019). He is currently completing a book project called Street Fight: Climate Change and Inequality in the 21st Century City, under contract with Princeton University Press.
Cohen works on the intersections of the climate emergency, housing, political economy, social movements, and inequalities of race and class in the US and Brazil. As director of (SC)2, he is leading qualitative and quantitative research projects on Whole Community Climate Mapping, green political economy, and eco-apartheid. He was also co-founder and co-PI of the Superstorm Research Lab in New York City.
Cohen’s research and writing have appeared in Nature; Environmental Politics; Public Culture; The International Journal of Urban and Regional Research; City: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action; NACLA Report on the Americas; The Century Foundation; The Guardian; Time; The Nation; Jacobin; Dissent; and elsewhere. He is the co-editor of a special issue of the NACLA Report on the Americas, A Green New Deal for the Americas: Mobilizing for Climate Justice from Above and Below. He is co-host of the Hot & Bothered podcast, and has guest-hosted The Dig.
Cohen is also mobilizing collaborative research for Green New Deal policy development in partnership with social movements and progressive elected officials in the US and Brazil. He led the research for the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, introduced in Congress by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Sanders. He serves on the policy team for People’s Action’s Homes Guarantee campaign.
Cohen has been cited for his research and public engagement in The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Vox, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Huffington Post, Energy & Environment News, Gizmodo, and elsewhere.
Zoé Hamstead is an assistant professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. Her work focuses on environmental planning, sustainability, urban governance, and environmental justice, particularly in the context of climate change. She uses mixed methods, including field-based data collection with sensing equipment, interviews, focus groups, participatory action research, geospatial analysis, statistical analysis, and other approaches for understanding the social justice dimensions of urban climate. Her work has been published in planning and interdisciplinary journals including Ecological Indicators, Landscape & Urban Planning, Computers, Environment, & Urban Systems, Ecology & Society, among others.
Current and past research projects, practice, and service learning courses include analysis of access to urban parks and ecological amenities, urban resilience scenario development, engaged community solar planning, and climate-exacerbated extreme heat management. Through a project entitled Sensing and Sensitivity, she integrates experiential data on people’s perceptions, subjectivities, capacities, and adaptive practices with objective measures of urban radiative temperature and other thermal indicators to understand residential thermal insecurities. Her recent co-edited volume entitled Resilient Urban Futures describes the processes of developing long-range planning capacities for climate resilience in nine cities across Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America through six years of coordinated participatory scenario workshops. In particular, she engages in co-production approaches to develop integrative governance frameworks for heat (and more broadly, thermal) management. Her in-progress project, Critical Heat Studies, applies tenets of racial justice developed within legal and educational theory to understand why thermal insecurity has long been neglected as a fundamental environmental threat and social determinant of health, although it is deadlier than all other weather-related disasters. Per Hamstead’s research, hazards protection practices tend to be primarily oriented around protecting against property destruction, a highly visible outcome of extreme storm events. By contrast, thermal insecurity is often a highly personal or private experience that we struggle to represent visually and linguistically. Critical Heat Studies brings together multiple epistemologies to understand the often invisible ways that thermal threats are produced in urban physical, institutional, and socio-cognitive spaces, and to develop a political framework for addressing it as a critical environmental burden.
Prior to joining the faculty at DCRP, Hamstead was an assistant professor of environmental planning at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she founded the Community Resilience Lab and served as director for the master’s of urban planning specialization in environmental planning. Prior to her academic career, she worked as a local government land use planner and in educational development at the American Planning Association.
Meg Mills-Novoa is an assistant professor with a joint appointment to the Division of Society and Environment and the Energy and Resources Group. As a human-environment geographer, her research focuses on the enduring impact of climate change adaptation projects. To study these initiatives, she uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, from spatial analysis and quantitative surveys to archival research and interviews. She collaborates closely with communities and practitioners to improve the design, implementation, and outcomes of adaptation projects that promote inclusion and equity.
Reflecting her interest in human dimensions of global change across the Americas, she also has a parallel research project on environmental change in the Amazon. Currently, she is the co-PI of an interdisciplinary research team that is funded by the National Center for Socio-Environmental Synthesis. Their project merges critical discourse analysis, remote sensing, and predictive land use modeling to understand the diverse drivers and proposed solutions to deforestation in the Amazon.
Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Mills-Novoa worked for over a decade as an adaptation researcher and practitioner, first as a Fulbright Fellow studying climate change impacts on Chilean vineyards, then as a Luce Scholar with the Centre for Rural Development in northern Vietnam. Most recently, she served as the outreach coordinator for the Climate Impacts Research Consortium at Oregon State University.
Danielle Zoe Rivera is an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning in the College of Environmental Design. Rivera’s research examines movements for environmental and climate justice. Her current work uses community-based research methods to address the impacts of climate-induced disasters affecting low-income communities throughout South Texas and Puerto Rico. Rivera teaches on environmental planning and design, community engagement, and environmental justice. Her work has been published by the Journal of the American Planning Association, Environment and Planning, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. She holds a PhD in urban planning from the University of Michigan, a master’s of architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s of architecture from Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, Rivera taught environmental design at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Cal Performances 2021-22 Illuminations: “Place and Displacement” series of programming examines the fraught and often devastating effects of migration, exile, dislocations, and separation, on both hyper-local and international scales, through five main stage performances and related online and in person programs with artists, creators, scholars, activists, and thinkers who are part of the outstanding brain trust that is the UC Berkeley community.
Lead support for Illuminations is provided by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation—empowering world-changing work.
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