Climate Refugee Stories

Tina Shull, Ph.D., History, UNC Charlotte


This seminar will engage teachers and solicit their collaboration in co-curricular planning, development, and implementation of a digital humanities project I direct called “Climate Refugee Stories” ( Climate Refugee Stories is a multimedia narrative, public education, and archiving project that uplifts the stories of people from around the world who have been displaced by the impacts of climate change, and documents the ways communities are responding to these crises. With current support from a National Geographic Documenting Human Migrations education grant, our project team is currently designing curricula and educational materials to facilitate student and community engagement with the project. We are also looking ahead to plan a public event in Charlotte in the Spring of 2023 as part of the Humanities Action Lab’s “Climates of Inequality” traveling exhibit. As there are currently no legal protections for climate refugees in US or international law, the project places an emphasis on “borders,” broadly defined as sites where movement is controlled or restricted. The project is global in scope but is geared toward a US audience as current US policies of climate change denialism and refugee refusal are exacerbating a global refugee crisis. Even more, the United States remains the leading carbon emitter in world history. The project employs mixed methods of participatory action research, oral history, archiving, and co-curricular development to invite storytellers, students, and audiences to debate and define “climate refugees” for themselves in order to reveal the historical, political, economic, and environmental causes of global inequality and displacement, to recognize community resilience, and to provide tools for allying movements for social and environmental justice.

Potential Readings include, but are not limited to:

“The Great Climate Migration Has Begun,” New York Times Magazine,

Naomi Klein. The Battle Over Paradise. Chicago: Haymarket Books: 2018.

Sarah Jacquette Ray. A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2020.

Shelley Streeby. Imagining the Future of Climate Change. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018.

Seminar Participants: