14 October 2016

Student stories: climate change in Morocco

Three Institute students have conducted field research on environment and migration in Morocco as part of the Institute’s Applied Research Seminar (ARS) programme.

Working with the International Organization for Migration, Renzo Costa, Erica Mazerolle-Castillo and Alena Cierna (Master in Development Studies) explored the impact of climate change through interviews with community actors, diaspora members and government officials in Morocco’s Souss-Massa and Drâ-Tafilalet regions, as well as in the capital, Rabat.

The students will now produce a report under the supervision of Claire Somerville, Executive Director of the Institute’s Gender Centre. They intend to share their findings in an official IOM publication and at an academic workshop, before presenting their research at a public event in December.

Erica Mazerolle-Castillo said the experience “gave us the opportunity to learn in action, putting theory into practice and challenging our assumptions about policy processes. Witnessing the realities of migration and desertification on people’s lives and environments was like lifting a curtain."

Alena Cierna said “the research trip was my first experience with qualitative field research. The partnership with IOM worked very well. They provided valuable feedback while giving us the freedom to create an academically rigorous research design."

Renzo Costa said the trip was “challenging in the sense that it tested my methodological and theoretical assumptions about the research process, and fruitful because it helped me develop a critical understanding of my position as a researcher, and to see how some of lessons learnt in the classroom can be applied."

The Graduate Institute’s ARS programme gives interdisciplinary masters students the opportunity to carry out research projects for international and non-governmental organisations.