18th Annual Conference in Citizenship Studies: Citizenship and the Climate Crisis

Date and time

November 9-12, 2023

About the conference

Extreme climate events and a growing climate crisis fueled by human activity continue to raise pressing questions regarding the functionality of the concept of citizenship. At one level, climate changes have driven peoples from the hardest-hit regions to become climate migrants and climate refugees, forcing those people to abandon whatever rights they had in their countries of origin.

The human activity contributing to the climate crisis is distributed unevenly across the globe, disrupting the reciprocity between rights and responsibilities traditionally associated with citizenship. Individual, corporate and nation-state entities responsible for the climate crisis are increasingly divorced from a reciprocal relationship to the rights of other entities impacted by their activities. Nation states provide limited political framework for structuring the citizenship of entities within their borders. Corporations, for example, which claim rights in one nation-state, can be unburdened of responsibilities in other states or to other entities. They claim the status of citizenship and so bear the responsibility of that status. And individuals, by virtue of employment and consumption, shift their allegiances beyond the boundaries of the nation-state, becoming, in effect, citizens of multinational corporations.

There are several recent situations where climate change is evincing profound impact on societies. These include the 2019 drought in Cape Town, South Africa; the 2022 floods in the Indus River Basin of Pakistan as well as the dramatic violent weather episodes in otherwise mild climate zones such as the United Kingdom and California. Some of these weather events are acute, while others appear to be the start or exacerbation of chronic conditions. Each of these scenarios is accompanied by an exercise of citizenship or the development of new modalities of citizenship, as either reactive or prescriptive measures. Given both the pervasive and increasingly frequent nature of devastating climate events across the planet, the need to understand their effect on citizenship is as exigent as the effort to reverse their adverse consequences.

We encourage proposals examining a range of topics from the specific causes and consequences of climate migration and refugees to disruptions of the rights and responsibilities traditionally associated with citizenship.

  • Where is this crisis most apparent?
  • What are the consequences of abandoned lands? And for the receiving countries?
  • Are climate refugees received similarly to how war refugees are received?
  • What responsibilities do ordinary citizens assume to mitigate the climate crisis? Or local governments?
  • What are the consequences of rising ocean levels for citizenship in the world's many great coastal cities?
  • How do governments balance their competing responsibilities to their citizens? Protecting jobs that add to pollution? Protecting the environment at the expense of the economic interests of individual citizens?
  • Is the climate crisis breaking the ties that have long bound citizenship to the nation-state? Is it promoting transnational citizenship? If so, under what circumstances?
  • How do and can non-governmental organizations alter understandings of citizenship in the midst of the climate crisis?
  • How does or can the One Health movement — which includes animals and plant life as well as human life — affect understandings of citizenship in the midst of the climate crisis?
  • Do faith traditions offer imperatives for climate action and could they be expressions of citizenship?

These questions are intended to be suggestive, not definitive.

Junior scholars

Through the generosity of center donors, the Keast-Lion Fund provides a limited number of scholarships to pay registration fees for junior scholars. These funds will be distributed on a competitive basis. If you wish to be considered for a scholarship, please indicate it in your abstract submission.



Call for abstracts

The program committee will give preference to proposals directly relevant to the theme. We invite panel proposals, individual submissions and suggestions for book sessions focused on citizenship and the climate crisis. To apply, please submit your abstract, a 500-word bio and your CV. no later than 5 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023.

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance to present work at the conference by October. We will invite presenters to submit full papers for further review by our advisory board.

Submit your proposal

Conference coordinators