Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Climate Solutions Lab

GS340 Climate and Conflict

Wilfrid Laurier University



Tom Deligiannis

Undergraduate lecture

Documentary Video / Films

The course will begin with a brief examination of the science of climate change and the consequences of global warming for those most at risk – particularly those in developing countries that will disproportionately bear the impacts of climate change. We will then examine the consequent implications of climate change for human security, with a special focus on how these climate consequences will affect conflict and security in areas most at risk, the most vulnerable in developing countries. The literature on climate security risks has burgeoned in the past ten years – highlighted by the inclusion of a chapter on human security in the 2014 AR5 IPCC assessment. The foundation of the climate-conflict research rests on research from the 1990s and early 2000s on the links between environmental change and violent conflict. An examination of this research - and the civil war and revolution research on which it is based - will provide a foundation for the shift to examine more recent research on the links between climate change and violent conflict. More recently, scholars have also begun to explore the ways in which we can tackle the complex challenges posed by climate change to help build peace and security among vulnerable groups and in regions most at risk. This course will thus also explore how scholars and policymakers are confronting the challenges and risks of climate change to head off violent conflict and build positive, sustainable peace. Throughout the course we will also be reading Camilla Toulmin’s book exploring almost four decades of change in a small farming village in Mali’s Sahel region. Toulmin’s book will provide a detailed, long-term study of how small-scale cultivators and herders have confronted various environmental, economic, and political challenges in the context of increasingly variable climatic influences. This book will be a staple of our discussion sessions throughout the term.