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Climate change, risk and migration in Global North and Global South: A comparison study

School of Applied Sciences

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Dr T Guma , Dr K Sharapov No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This project will explore the migration-climate nexus from a comparative perspective. Based on two case studies selected from countries in Global North and Global South, it aims to contribute novel and original knowledge and understanding to the debates around climate change and how people respond to these issues across different contexts.

Media, public and academic discourses concering climate change have been largely preoccupied with migration and displacement of people from ‘developing’ Global South to the industrialised Global North. This direction of movement is often characterised by alarmist narratives about the threat posed by the displacement of large populations from ‘poor’ to ‘rich’ countries. Representations of this migration often depict migrants as vulnerable, passive and helpless victims of climate change and global warming. By contrast, the impact of climate change on co mmunities in the Global North tends to be less politicised, with media coverage highlighting issues around resilience and resourcefulness of these communities and the displaced individuals in the face of environmental and global risks and threats.

This project aims to critically interrogate and move beyond these Eurocentric and Northern viewpoints and narratives that often underpin the current debates in the field. Inspired by repeated call for more global approaches in the social sciences (Burawoy 2005; de Sousa Santos 2007), it aims to answer questions such as i) How do people in Global South and Global North perceive and respond to the risks and uncertainties surrounding climate change b) In what ways do these risks inform their decision to move or stay? iii) What hopes and fears about future do they have and how do these compare across Western/non-Western, Northern/Southern contexts? iv) What ideas and understanding about global climate, environment and nature underpin their actions? The project is particularly interested in the experiences and perspecitives of individuals who are affected by climate change issues.

Theoretically, the project will draw on social constructionist understandings of risk and uncertainties, in particular the work of Ulrich Beck (1992) and Mary Douglas (1992). In terms of methodology, the project will involve in-depth qualitative research in two locations, one selected from countries in Global North (e.g., USA, Canada, UK, Norway, Finland, Japan, etc.) and the other from Global South (e.g., India, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Mozambique, etc). In setting out a research proposal as part of the application process, applicants can choose locations (towns, cities,) from those proposed here or design their own in consultation with their supervisors.

Successful applicants will work under the supervision of Dr Taulant Guma and Dr Kiril Sharapov, and will join a thriving intellectual community of scholars and practitioners working in the field of migration at Edinburgh Napier University (for more information see Migration and Mobilities Research Network website:

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in social sciences of humanities with a good fundamental knowldge of key issues surrounding migration and climate change.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes
Experience of fundamental analysing qualitative data using recognised methods.
Competent in a discipline rleated ot the project, such as, but not limited to, human geography, sociology, anthropolgy, migration studies.
Knowledge of the discipline and of research methods and techniques to develop and complete an individual PhD-level research programme.
Good written and oral communication skills.
Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project.
Good time management.

Funding Notes

This is an unfunded position however we may consider applications for the University Fee Waiver Studentships (for EU and Home students only)


• Adams, J. 1996. Risk. London: University College London Press.
• Beck, U. 1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: SAGE.
• Burawoy, M. 2005. Conclusion: Provincializing the Social Sciences in G. Steinmetz (ed) The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences. London: Duke University Press, 508-25.
• Douglas, M. 1992. Risk and blame: Essays in cultural theory. London: Routledge
• De Sousa Santos, B. 2007. Another Knowledge is Possible: Beyond Northern Epistemologies. London: Verso,

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