News and Announcements


Unnatural Disasters: Climate Change and the Limits of the KnowableUnnatural Disaster

Fall 2018: a conference on climate change to be held at the Univeristy of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign on Sept 13-15, 2018, with a keynote by Anna Tsing (UC-Santa Cruz). The conference is a collaboration between the Unit for Criticism, Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy (SDEP), the School of Art+Design, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). The conference includes 3D and VR data visualization presentations, a pop-up art exhibition, a roundtable, panels, and a closing conversation on experiments in collaboration.

Special issue of World Development: Disempowering Democracy: Climate change adaptations: Synergies, contradictions, and tradeoffs across scales

The papers in this special issue arose out of the 4th international conference of the Initiative on Climate Adaptation Research and Understanding through the Social Sciences (ICARUS) IV in 2015 in Urbana, Illinois, USA. ICARUS IV brought together scholars from across the world to share ongoing research on climate change adaptation, critically examine the state of knowledge and literature from a wide range of disciplines, and collectively identify knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to provide insights for future climate change adaptation projects. The aim of this special issue is to contribute to emerging discussions in the climate change adaptation literature that highlight the importance of understanding and theorizing the scalar dimensions of adaptation and adaptation pathways.

SDEP Director Receives Guggenheim Fellowship

Jesse Ribot has been awarded a 2018 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He will use his fellowship tenure to support the completion of "Climate of Anxiety," a project that integrates his field research in the Sahel from 1986 to the present with multiple comparative studies on human rights, representation, rural food security and theoretical work on climate-related vulnerability. According to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation's news release Ribot is one of 173 scholars, artists and scientists named as 2018 Guggenheim Fellows. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.

Special issue of Conservation & Society: Disempowering Democracy: Local Representation in Community and Carbon Forestry in Africa

In a special issue of Conservation & Society edited by Melis Ece, James Murombedzi, & Jesse Ribot, Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI) researchers interrogate the contradictions of consultation and consent processes in participatory carbon forestry in Africa. See more about the RFGI program, working papers and other publications at the SDEP Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI) page

Interview Article on Jesse Ribot and Papa Faye's Research on Climate and Migration

"We think [the migration of young African men and women to Europe] is due to exploitation - the structural violence, the silent violence, the slow violence that places whole populations at risk, that makes them precarious and vulnerable, that erases their possibility to imagine a future and to hope." Read more of the interview here.

POLICY BRIEF: Choosing Democracy: Natural Resource Management for Environmental Policy Makers, Donors and Practitioners

In this policy brief for the Swedish International Center for Local Democracy (ICLD), Jesse Ribot outlines local democratic representation in forestry governance. Read the report here.


Exciting New Research on the Links between Local Democracy and Climate-Related Migration

Former SDEP Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Papa Faye, has been awarded a research grant from the International Center for Local Democracy for his project, "Local Democracy and Vulnerability Reduction in Africa: Political Representation under a Changing Sky." In collaboration with Professors Jesse Ribot (UIUC Geography and SDEP) and Matthew Turner (University of Wisconsin Geography), Dr. Faye will explore the role of local political representation in generating or reducing the trends toward climate-related migration in the Tambacounda region of Senegal and the Dantiandou and Say Regions of Niger. Stay tuned for Working Papers and other products coming out of this research!


RFGI Working Papers Published

All 35 RFGI Working Papers are now published! 

The Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI is an Africa-wide comparative environmental governance research and training program of CODESRIA, IUCN and the University of Illinois. RFGI focuses on enabling responsive and accountable decentralization in forestry to strengthen representation of forest-based rural populations within local-government decision making. RFGI aims to enhance and help institutionalize widespread responsive and accountable local governance processes that reduce vulnerability, enhance local wellbeing, and improve forest management.
See more about the RFGI program at the SDEP Responsive Forest Governance Initiative (RFGI) page.

Click here for the Working Papers.


Lecture Videos

Diana Liverman, Professor of Geography and Development, University of Arizona: "New narratives of environment and development: imagining and governing carbon offsets and climate adaptation" (Sep 23, 2011)

Paul Robbins, Professor of Geography and Development, University of Arizona: "Producing Wildlife: Informal Management and Undemocratic Sustainability in India's Conservation Lands" (Nov 12, 2010)

Leo Zulu, Assistant Professor of Geography, Michigan State University: "Arrested Democracy: Decentralized Environmental Governance, Sustainable Livelihoods and Environmental Policy in Africa -- the Case of Malawi" (Oct 29, 2010)

Yaakov Garb, Senior Lecturer, Ben Gurion University: "The Israeli-Palestine e-Waste Commodity Chain: Findings and Reflections" (Aug 28, 2015)

SDEP Lecture Series

Climate and Society Speaker Series (2009-2010)

Democracy and Environment Speaker Series (2010-2011)

Occupy Nature Speaker Series (2012-2013)

Critical Inequalities Seminar Series (2013-2014)

Risk in a Changing World Speaker Series (2014-2015)

Climate of Emigration: Cause and Responsibility in the Anthropocene Speaker Series (2017-2018)