Spring 2010 Course Description

Policy Research Project

Section Title: Climate Change
Instructor(s): Joshua Busby
Course: P A 682GB - Policy Research Project
Unique Number: 62320
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.355
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information

This course fulfills requirements for the following specialization(s):

Description: This PRP examines the topic of climate change and security in Africa. Climate change is expected to have a number of negative effects, particularly on poor countries in the developing world that lack the capacity to deal with the rising incidence and severity of extreme weather events, drought, floods, and irregular rainfall. For poor countries in Africa already buffeted by a number of other problems (weak governments, ethnic conflicts, disease, porous borders, poor infrastructure, etc.), these consequences could generate a number of negative security outcomes, including but not limited to violent conflict, strikes, riots, and humanitarian disasters.

With the establishment of Africa Command, the continent of Africa is rising as a source of geostrategic interest for the United States. As a result, the security consequences of climate change could become more than issues of ethical or moral concern for the United States.

In this course, we will be mapping the vulnerability of African states to climate change using geographic information systems (GIS) for a large grant the Strauss Center has received from the Department of Defense along with partner institutions at the University of North Texas, Trinity College Dublin, and the College of William and Mary. Vulnerability is not purely physical or environmental vulnerability but is also shaped by governance capacity, access to infrastructure and markets, ethnic divisions, and other indicators. We will map both the physical/environmental sources of vulnerability as well as the political/economic/social sources of vulnerability. We will also overlay these maps of vulnerability with metrics of geostrategic interest. By the end of this year, we hope to identify the main locations of vulnerability at the sub-national level within individual African countries.

In addition to becoming familiar with the substantive literature on environmental security, students will, through the weekly lab sessions, become expert in using ArcGIS software.

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