Funded PhD Studentship
Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in island communities: engaging participatory approaches to inform community decision-making
Remote islands are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, changing weather patterns and their impacts on storminess, coastal erosion, and flooding. Moreover, the particular nuanced contexts of remote rural settings can compound this physical vulnerability, a layer of vulnerability that is not considered in the typical climate change impact studies. This is the case in Scotland, where most climate change impact studies have tended towards a top-down approach, rather than engaging the communities and decision-makers impacted by climate change in the analysis of vulnerabilities. For an effective adaptation policy, local circumstances and characteristics need to be taken into account. An assessment following an integrated perspective on vulnerability, incorporating both top-down and bottom-up components is a mean for capturing this knowledge for decision-making. Moreover, research on policy discourse framings of climate change in remote island settings has value in terms of offering a basis for a critical analysis of dominant representations and narratives and of other competing accounts, as climate change in rural areas occurs in the context of other social, economic and land use and ownership trends.
The aim for this studentship is to develop a climate change adaptation assessment framework suited to participation, integration and collaboration in the context of rural island communities. Rural populations are particularly sensitive to environmental change given their dependence on natural resources. The study offers an opportunity to assess the risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities of climate change through the co-production of knowledge with stakeholders, and to initiate dialogue on climate adaptation. Baseline assessments of climate change vulnerability will be performed to inform the adaptation discourse using an integrated socio-environmental vulnerability assessment methodology in a number of island case study sites in Scotland.
Methodologically the study will build on the established partnerships between the supervisory team and communities in the selected island locations in order to elucidate their perspectives on climate vulnerability and adaptation options. Qualitative data collection and analysis of interviews and other stakeholder-focussed activities are envisaged as being a key part of this. Community engagement work will also be informed by analysis of existing climatic records and of climate change projection.
This studentship will be co-supervised by Dr Alexandre Gagnon and Dr Kathryn A. Burnett, University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Dr Alistair Geddes, University of Dundee. Dr Massimo Bollasina, Edinburgh University, will also play an advisory role.
This studentship is funded by the Scottish Association for Geosciences, Environment, and Society (SAGES) and UWS and is available from October 2018. Students will receive an annual stipend at the RCUK rate (currently £14,553 per annum) and payment of tuition fees.
Apply using the following link: https://www.uws.ac.uk/study/research-degrees/admissions-application/postgraduate-research-application-guide/ by deadline of January 26 2018.
For further information about the project, please contact Dr Gagnon: Alexandre.Gagnon@uws.ac.uk or tel: +44 (0)141 848 3270.