ABD: Dissertation Proposal Accepted

I have recently passed the final hurdle of getting to ABD before the actual final hurdle of getting a PhD: my dissertation proposal is accepted, and the real work begins.

My dissertation focuses on environmental migration and displacement, which, because there are so many variations on the definition, I will define them in full here:

Environmental Migration: The movement of persons or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, as a result of a disaster, or in order to avoid the impact of an immediate and foreseeable natural hazard, are forced to leave their places of habitual residence, or choose to do so, for a period of greater than three months, and who move within or outside their country of origin or habitual residence.

Environmental Displacement: The movement of persons or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, as a result of a disaster, or in order to avoid the impact of an immediate and foreseeable natural hazard, are forced to leave their places of habitual residence, or choose to do so, for a period no greater than three months, and who move within or outside their country of origin or habitual residence.

It is a three paper dissertation which builds upon earlier work by myself and Dr. Todd K. BenDor about how residents in imperiled areas react to quick-onset hazards.

The first paper, tentatively entitled, “Increased movement and decreased discretion: migration in relation to major disaster events and risk exposure,” analyzes how repeated disasters can synergistically impact migration. The broad goal of this paper is to understand how the intersection of disaster exposure and risk affect migration destinations.

The second paper, tentatively titled “Do Floodplain Buyouts Mitigate Individual Risk?: Comparisons between Buyouts and Post-Disaster Migration” builds on Paper 1 and seeks to explain the relationship between federally-financed floodplain buyouts and retreat as a risk reduction strategy.

Paper 3, tentatively titled “Changing Perspectives After the Storm: A pre-post evaluation Unfortunately, while the data used in Papers 1 and 2 will allow novel analysis of Hurricane-driven migration as influenced by vulnerability at a household-scale, it will not facilitate examination of the risk perspectives or personal conditions that residents use when deciding to leave their pre-storm homes. Therefore, building on the patterns studied in Paper 1 and 2, Paper 3, tentatively titled “Changing Perspectives After the Storm: A pre-post evaluation of risk perception and adaptive decision making,” delves deeper into the explanations used by the residents’ themselves for engaging in adaptation decisions (i.e., migrating or protecting in situ) after disaster exposure.

Conceptualization for migration patterns reactive to multiple hazard events

For this work, I have the privilege of the support from an absolutely wonderful committee. The chair is my advisor, Dr. Todd K. BenDor, who’s work focuses on the environmental implications of urban development and land use regulations. Dr. Phil Berke offers support and expertise on planning analysis for disaster resilience. Dr. Miyuki Hino offers expertise on climate change adaptation, with specialized knowledge of managed retreat more specifically. Dr. Elizabeth Frankenberg is borrowed from outside the department, and is a sociologist who has studied migration and adaptation in response to natural hazards, and will help keep me honest with my demographic analysis. Finally, providing additional expertise from outside of UNC, Dr. Alex Greer, has done incredible work on outcomes for buyout participants that has inspired my own interest in this area.

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