Tell them we don't want to leave... A Case Study of the Marshall Islands and the Rising Sea

Friday 3:45pm REC Center Large Ice Overlook Room


Zola Moon, University of Arkansas Main Campus
This case study is the result of participation in a workshop sponsored by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Socio-environmental synthesis involves recognizing the interconnected nature of the complex systems involved and using approaches which include a broad range of concepts and skills. The case study presented here focuses on the peoples of the Marshall Islands, a collection of islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean. The Marshallese are faced with increasing population pressures, a struggling economy, droughts and rising sea levels as well as repercussions from atomic testing conducted earlier by the US military. This case study exposes students to the ways in which social-environmental systems operate and connect across different scales. Using a combination of a directed case study and a decision case, students review videos, documents, environmental and social data, along with other qualitative data. Students synthesize the data to begin to understand sea-level rise and current and potential impacts on the Marshallese still in the islands and those who have migrated. Students are also introduced to systems thinking, including use of software to create an S-E system for the Marshall Islands. In the decision case portion of the study, students identify issues of social and environmental justice and work together in small groups to identify a suite of possible actions to be taken by groups in the US and/or in the Marshall Islands for adaptation to climate change impacts.

Presentation Media

Case Study on the Marshall Islands (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 8.6MB Jul17 15)