Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Ellen Douglas

Second Advisor

Georgia Mavrommati

Third Advisor

Rosalyn Negrón


Climate change is one of the most pressing issues our society faces, and recent reports indicate it has reached “unprecedented” levels. It is broadly accepted now though that it is irreversible and only the rate of change can be mitigated. To prepare for and respond to climate impacts that can disrupt environmental, structural, and social systems, scientists and municipalities assess community vulnerabilities and develop initiatives intended to reduce disruptions and bolster resilience. However, some populations are largely overlooked within these efforts. Among those rarely engaged within climate discourse, science, and vulnerability assessments, are people living in homelessness situations. Since these populations are seldom engaged as participants or knowledge producers, there is little environmental data on them that decision makers can consult, which means adaption plans may not benefit these groups. In part, people experiencing homelessness may be overlooked because there are few examples or protocols for how to engage them in discussions about their environmental vulnerabilities, outside of social sciences, for researchers and municipalities to consult. Yet, continuing to overlook these groups within assessments and related environmental science and municipal processes can perpetuate a cycle of vulnerability among them. Also, national directives insist communities engage the “whole community” rather than just a few segments, in preparedness and response efforts. In response, this work engaged people experiencing homelessness as part of a case study in Barnstable, Hyannis, Cape Cod. This work is an example of how researchers can determine the extent homeless populations are exposed to climate, weather, and flooding, what makes them sensitive to these exposures, and the extent they are impacted by resilience efforts. To achieve this, I applied municipal, social, and environmental science methods as part of an integrated, mixed-methods, transdisciplinary approach. Overall, this effort generated new socio-environmental data, produced in user-inspired formats, not available elsewhere. Doing so helps fill a critical information gap on an overlooked population and contributes to developing an approach that benefits the whole community.


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Available for download on Thursday, November 21, 2024