Conference Themes

Theme 1: Causes of Vulnerability

Climate-related human disasters occur at the intersection of biophysical hazard and human vulnerability. Both hazards and vulnerabilities have causes. Understanding these causes helps us to assess the probability of crisis and to identify entry points for risk reduction. In order to understand the full set of causal factors that produce the precarity of the poor, how do we identify, model and employ cause on the social vulnerability side of the climate-risk equation? Despite that vulnerability studies is a well-developed field, formal modeling of the causes of vulnerability in climate-risk are far behind the hazards-style models used to predict the probability of climate disasters. Yet without vulnerability hazard is nil, so to be meaningful, models of climate crisis need to account for vulnerability. This theme focuses on a series of questions. First, what kinds of causal models of vulnerability are available that could be productively used in climate risk-models. Second, how do existing models of climate risk integrate the social sciences and what kinds of assumptions do they rely on? Third, how do the assumptions now embedded in climate models shape the kinds of predictions these models make and the kinds of solutions they might point to? Fourth, what are the policy strengths and limits to causal analysis of vulnerability? In this theme of the meeting we hope to have case studies of vulnerability and its causes as well as case studies of models and modelers treatment of vulnerability.

Theme 2: Climate and Livelihoods of the Poor

This theme focuses attention on how risks and losses owed to climate variability and change affect the livelihoods of the poor? Some risks threaten the poor directly such as through disasters; others undermine means of livelihoods and subsistence. All climate risks make more precarious the well being of the poor, balanced as their lives are at the edge of hunger, deprivation and homelessness. We invite papers that focus in particular on the interactions between climate risks and livelihoods, as also on the forms of responses to such risks that poor households adopt and adapt. Some illustrative areas of work under this theme may be “livelihoods in marginal environments,” “resource dependence and the poor,” “social safety nets and climate risks,” but the call is not limited to these subthemes. Comparative studies, those building on available or newly collected evidence, advances in methods, and proposals for new solution concepts or frameworks for thought and criticism are welcome in particular.

Themes 1 & 2: Integrative Papers

Themes one and two are, of course, intertwined. We encourage papers that integrate research on the causes of vulnerability with proactive analysis of livelihoods, especially livelihoods at risk. How can a better understanding of vulnerability and its causes shape livelihoods strategies and adaptation practices and politics? How are livelihoods and adaptations embedded in social and political -economic relations that limit or enable adjustment? Integrative papers will explore the origins and deployment of the resources that vulnerable individuals and groups bring to their everyday strategies of security and betterment.

Icarus IV Abstract Selection Criteria

We will choose theoretically robust, methodologically clear, empirically rooted abstracts. In your abstract you should convey the problem you are addressing, why it matters, your question, framing, methods, empirical base, and findings. Your abstract must speak directly to either or both themes. Abstracts that include all of these elements will be prioritized. A limited number of purely theoretical or empirical abstracts may also be accepted. We are aiming to accommodate approximately 40 participants.