Climate Change, Strategic Communications and the International Relations of CARICOM (War Studies, KCL)

Contact: Nicholas Michelsen


Department: Department of War Studies

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: January-May 2022

Project duration:13 weeks, full time

Closing date: 15th December 2021

Expertise required: The project sits at the intersection of several fields of study. A successful application needs: 1) An interest in debates about climate change and its relevance to international relations. 2) An Interest in debates about communications in international relations. 3) An interest in the Caribbean Community or Caribbean region in International Relations.

Project description: This project seeks to develop a new research agenda and construct an international research network exploring the Strategic Communications methods, practices and conduct of the member states of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) relating to climate change. The research project is concerned to explore how small island states seek to influence international relations through their strategic communications about the global climate emergency, in light of region’s extant exposure to the national and human security consequences of climate change (e.g. soil erosion, hurricanes, sea level rise). The project seeks to examine and explore how small island states may be understood as powerful communicative actors in International Relations. The project will involve interviewing CARICOM professional communicators, so as to develop preliminary research findings on which to establish the wider research agenda. The project aims to invert the normal direction of epistemological authority in international relations, turning to small island states in the global south that are experiencing the sharp end of the global climate emergency, for lessons that may be learned by northern developed states which have been shielded from the security implications of climate change. The potential for policy impact from the research project follows from laying the groundwork for grants and publications aiming to learn lessons from CARICOM strategic communications practices with respect to climate change. CARICOM has unique qualities as a potential case study for shedding light on the role of the private sector in international strategic communications practices, and due to the history and emphasis on climate communications in regional diplomatic research and investment. The project is also intended to support the creation of new partnerships between UK-based scholars and scholars based in the Caribbean Community, which could evolve to include international student/academic exchanges, and wider research collaborations.

Description of work involved:

The student will provide research assistance to support the development of a new research agenda, and to support the creation of an international research network. This will involve: reviewing academic literatures on climate change in International Relations, Strategic Communications and/or the Caribbean Community, drafting sections of text, assisting in the organisation and administration of a research workshop, and supporting primary research (conducting or transcribing interviews). This work has three principle targets/goals: 1) To support the development of a standard research grant proposal to ESRC, to be submitted in the summer of 2022. 2) To support the creation of an international research network, through the organisation of an online workshop/seminar bringing together researchers based in the Caribbean (University of the West Indies), with UK based academics, to explore climate security from a communications perspectives, with a focus on the strategic communications practices of small island states in International Relations. 3) To support the publication of a research article on CARICOM Strategic Communications and the International Relations of Climate Change. This will launch a new research agenda exploring the communications strategies of small island states, and how they seek to influence international relations with respect to the global climate emergency, drawing on interview data that will be gathered in the spring of 2022.

Student benefits:1) The research assistant will be involved in international research network building, through helping to organise an online workshop/ seminar. The student will thereby gain experience of academic event organisation and administration, as well as having the opportunity to build individual relationships and contacts with international academics. 2) In providing research assistance to support the development of an ESRC grant, the student will gain experience of the application process, and may potentially be a candidate for any subsequently offered research positions. 3) Through supporting the conduct of primary interview research, and reviewing relevant academic literatures, the student will be mentored with respect to a key process in academic professional life (the development of a research article). The intention is that the research assistant will be a co-author on the research article, setting out the project research agenda. This will benefit the career development of the student, and support their transition into professional academic life after they complete their doctorate.