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BSc International Disaster Management & Humanitarian Response / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Disaster Mobilities of Climate Change

Unit code HCRI30632
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


What mobilities and immobilities are entailed in disaster? How do disasters impact the (im)mobilities of different populations? What interventions are possible, appropriate, and desirable? Focusing on a range of severe weather events projected to increase in frequency and/or severity under a changing climate, this course examines disasters through the lens of mobility. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the links between mobility and climate change, including the contribution of fossil-fuelled transport to climate change and the challenges related to providing transport mobility when responding to weather-related disasters. This course will provide an overview of theory and cases in the interdisciplinary field of mobilities research, illustrating the value that a mobilities perspective brings to humanitarian response. Students will critically analyse primary cases related to forest fires, heat waves, hurricanes, etc. gaining an understanding of key concepts, including climate refugees, disaster capitalism, and mobility justice.


  • Understand the range of severe weather events expected, and already experienced, under a changing climate
  • Understand the relationship between climate change, disasters, and mobility
  • Understand the impacts of severe weather events on the (im)mobilities of different groups (e.g. class, gender, race)
  • Understand a range of, and limits to, climate change adaptation measures
  • Understand complexities entailed in the concept of climate refugee, disaster capitalism, and mobility justice, including definition and applications
  • Gain exposure to a range of methods used in researching disaster
  • Develop critical research and analysis skills based on academic and non-academic sources as demonstrated through three assessments


Knowledge and understanding

  • Learn theories and concepts related to climate change, disasters, and mobility, including definition and application, namely: climate refugees, disaster capitalism, mobility justice
  • Develop a critical understanding of the (im)mobilities of people, goods, and information entailed in severe weather events
  • Develop understanding of different disasters (e.g. slow versus fast onset, high versus low profile), and their representation
  • Develop and assess strategies for increasing mobility justice in the context of disaster
  • Develop an understanding of the types of social crises that can result from weather-related disasters, comparing Global North and Global South


Intellectual skills

  • Critically interrogate academic and non-academic (e.g. social media, news media) sources on the topics of climate change, disasters, and mobility
  • Understand and apply key theoretical concepts including climate refugees, disaster capitalism, mobility justice
  • Understand difference between experiences in Global North and Global South
  • Develop an ability to use primary sources as a means for developing academic arguments


Practical skills

  • Understand the many facets of climate change, disasters, and mobility and use this to develop and assess appropriate humanitarian interventions in future crises
  • Develop a creative project to inform the general public of links between climate change, disasters, and mobility
  • Write a critical essay demonstrating research skills


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop a creative project to communicate academic knowledge to a wider audience
  • Develop specialist knowledge in the areas of climate change, disasters, and mobility applicable to future careers
  • Identify thematic links between diverse extreme weather events, as well as dynamics particular to specific places and events
  • Develop sensitivity for the complex issues facing individuals and communities confronted with (im)mobilities during disasters exacerbated by climate change


Assessment methods

Creative Knowledge translation project 30%
Essay 70%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative and Summative

Written feedback

On all summative assessments

Oral feedback

On in-class contributions/discussions

Additional feedback as required in office hours

Formative and summative


Recommended reading

Fothergill, A. and L. Peek. 2015. The Children Of Katrina. Austin, University of Texas Press.

Klein, N. 2018. The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists. Chicago: Haymarket.

Ide, T. 2018. Climate war in the Middle East? Drought, the Syrian Civil War and the state of climate-conflict research. Current Climate Change Reports. 4: 347-354.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2018. Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2012. Summary for Policymakers. In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Sheller, M. 2018. Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes. London: Verso.

Sheller, M. 2012. The islanding effect: post-disaster mobility systems and humanitarian logistics in Haiti. cultural geographies. 20(2): 185-204.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rubina Jasani Unit coordinator

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