Environmental Migration: Social Work at the Nexus of Climate Change and Global Migration

  • Meredith C. F. Powers University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA, Department of Social Work
  • Cathryne A. Schmitz Department of Social Work University of North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro, NC, USA
  • Christian Z. Nsonwu Department of Social Work University of North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro, NC, USA
  • Manju T. Mathew Women and Gender Studies Program University of North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro, NC, USA
Keywords: Environmental migrants, climate crisis, indigenous biophilia framework

Abstract

Environmental migrants are caught at the nexus of the climate crisis and the global migrant crisis. The problems of the migrant crisis are recognized globally as they are linked to the complex issues being addressed by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The complexity of the issues makes it difficult to grasp the breadth and depth of this crisis. As a result, it can be understood as one of the “wicked problems” requiring us to respond through a lens that recognizes the interconnections of humans and the broader ecosystems within the physical surroundings. When approaching the migrant crisis from this perspective, professionals are challenged to create transdisciplinary, community-based response systems which are holistic, multi-pronged, and inclusive of migrants’ voices and strengths. Storytelling provides a venue for highlighting migrants' voices, engaging in change, and creating the space for individual and collective healing. Social workers are increasingly being called upon to become trained in this practice and to engage in complex change systems alongside other disciplines and community members. As they provide prevention, mitigation, resettlement, and relief efforts, social workers become a part of a global community of leaders engaged in transformative change. By working to address these challenges, they are securing a better world not only for environmental migrants, but also for our planet as a whole.

Author Biographies

Meredith C. F. Powers, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA, Department of Social Work
Meredith C. F. Powers, PhD, MSW, is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA. She currently teaches Environmental Justice and serves as a Field Liaison for social work students working with immigrant and refugee populations. Throughout her practice career, she has worked in direct service primarily with immigrant and refugee clients; and in community settings with public education for sustainability, and congregation and community partnership development.
Cathryne A. Schmitz, Department of Social Work University of North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro, NC, USA
Cathryne L. Schmitz (Ph.D., MSW) is a Professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) who has taught across disciplines, including Women and Gender Studies and Peace Studies. Her teaching and scholarship has focused on critical multiculturalism, identity and culture, analysis of the privilege/oppression nexus, global education, and transformative change. She has focused her teaching and her scholarship toward the centering of marginalized voices.
Christian Z. Nsonwu, Department of Social Work University of North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro, NC, USA
Christian Nsonwu (BSW student, Class of 2018) is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA.  He has worked with the refugee community for several years, as a community resident and now as an  intern at a refugee resettlement agency in Guilford County.
Manju T. Mathew, Women and Gender Studies Program University of North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro, NC, USA

Manju Mathews is Master’s student in Women and gender studies at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I am from India and I have a B.A in Economics and an M.A in International Relation, both of which I acquired from India. Prior to my admission at UNCG I was doing NGO jobs in the field of sexual abuse among women and children at Chandigarh, India.

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Published
2018-09-18