BSc Global Development

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Disaster Mobilities of Climate Change

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI30631
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
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 increasing in frequency and severity in the climate crisis, this course examines disasters through the lens of mobility, including the movements of people, goods, information, and services. 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 global health, disaster, and humanitarian, and conflict response. Students will critically analyse cases related to forest fires, heat waves, hurricanes, and more, gaining an understanding of key theories linking disaster, mobilities, and climate change, including mobility justice, disaster capitalism, and the figure of the climate refugee.


  • Understand range of severe weather events expected, and already experienced, under a changing climate
  • Understand relationship between mobilities and climate change with global health, disaster, and humanitarian, and conflict response
  • Understand impacts of severe weather on the (im)mobilities of different groups, particularly vulnerable groups (e.g. class, gender, race)
  • Understand key theories linking mobilities and climate change with global health, and humanitarian, and conflict response


Knowledge and understanding

  • Learn theories and concepts linking mobilities and climate change with global health, disaster, and humanitarian, and conflict response
  • Develop critical understanding of the (im)mobilities of people, goods, information, policies, practices, protests, and ecologies entailed in severe weather 
  • Develop understanding of different disasters and their representation (e.g. slow versus fast onset, high versus low profile)
  • Develop an understanding of the types of social crises that can result from weather-related disasters, comparing resource rich and resource poor regions


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 high- and low-income contexts
  • 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 interventions 
  • Write a critical essay demonstrating research skills
  • Develop a creative project to inform target audiences of links between climate change, disasters, and mobility 


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop a creative project to communicate academic knowledge to a specific, non-academic 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

Employability skills

Group/team working
- Identify views of others and work constructively with others
- Information Retrieval: Gather, synthesise, and organise material from various sources to critically evaluate its significance - Research Design: Design and develop an independent research project
- Interdisciplinary Thinking: Learn to think through and across diverse fields (i.e. climate change, disasters, mobility) - Knowledge Translation: Translate academic learning into a creative and engaging format that is understood by the general public - Presentation: Present and facilitate creative project tin class - Time Management: Prioritize tasks, including reading, writing, research, and course time - Self-Guided Learning: Improve one's own learning through planning, monitoring, critical reflection, evaluation and adaptation strategies

Assessment methods

Creative Knowledge translation project and presentation


Brainstorm Presentation




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. 
  • Sheller, M. 2018. Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes. London: Verso. 
  • Sodero, S. 2022. Under the Weather: Reimagining Mobility in the Climate Crisis. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephanie Sodero Unit coordinator

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