Seminar: Jesse Ribot - University of Illinois, 11am

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Jesse Ribot, University of Illinois
Time of Event: 
Friday, November 18, 2016 - 11:00

National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)
1 Park Place, Suite 300
Annapolis, MD 21401

Title: Climate and Social Vulnerability: Analytics of Cause and Responsibility


Adaptation is forward looking. But we need to look back at the causes of fragility to move toward security. Causal analysis of vulnerability aims to identify the roots of crises so that transformative solutions might be found. Yet root-cause analysis is absent from most climate response assessments. Framings for climate-change risk analysis often locate causality in hazards while attributing some causal weight to proximate social variables such as poverty or lack of capacity. They rarely ask why capacity is lacking, assets are inadequate or social protections are absent or fail. This talk frames vulnerability and security as matters of access to assets and social protections. Assets and social protections each have their own context-contingent causal chains. A key recursive element in those causal chains is the ability – means and powers – of vulnerable people to influence the political economy that shapes their assets and social protections. Vulnerability is, as Sen rightly observed, linked to the lack of freedom – the freedom to influence the political economy that shapes entitlements. In this talk I want to explore why broader political-economic causes have such a difficult time entering into climate impact models – and thus solutions to vulnerability, that is various policies called adaptation, remain relatively shallow. 

Seminar presented by Jesse Ribot, Professor, Geography & Geographic Information Science and Director, Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy Program at the University of Illinois.

This seminar is being presented in conjunction with SESYNC Socio-Environmental Immersion Program.

SESYNC seminars are open to all interested attendees. Join us in Annapolis!

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, funded through an award to the University of Maryland from the National Science Foundation, is a research center dedicated to accelerating data-driven scientific discovery at the interface of human and ecological systems. Visit us online at and follow us on Twitter @SESYNC.

Event type: 
Event Attendance: 
Open to the Public
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