John Scott-Railton

John Scott-Railton


John is pursuing doctoral studies at UCLA, where his research engages a vexing question: what happens when ‘climate change adaptation’ isn’t adaptive? His current research builds a case study on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal, where intense rains after decades of drought have led to widespread flooding. He documents the ensuing local action and politics that, his fieldwork suggests, may have compounded the human and ecological impact of the changed climate, not reduced them. John engages how climate adaptation is shaped and constrained by context, whether as individual incentives or policies. His work attempts to encourage practitioners and academics to keep the concept of climate change adaptation productive by making sure maladaptation is equally well understood. Previously, while completing a master’s degree at the University of Michigan, John helped develop “participatory mapping” projects aimed at protecting the fragile property rights of poor families living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He has also gained international recognition for his work carrying the voices of Egyptians and Libyans from behind internet and media blackouts.

Fellow at a Glance

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Architecture & Urban Planning

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