Bergen Summer Research School

Migration, Climate Change and Voluntariness

Christine Straehle, Professor for Practical Philosophy, University of Hamburg

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The displacement of historical communities is one of the morally most challenging issues that climate change brings. Christine Straehle discusses the argument that the situation of climate induced migrants should be considered equivalent to that of political refugees and argues that the needs of climate induced migrants cannot be met with the tools of asylum, i.e., membership in a new state.

Straehle will then turn to another remedy discussed in the literature, namely relocation. She will explain the harm that relocation of climate induced migrants brings. She bases her assessment on the requirement of choices being made voluntarily to provide conditions for personal autonomy. She identifies three harms that are tied to relocation from territory: the severing of ties between self and territory; the severing of ties between community and territory; and the severing of historical belonging.

This session will be chaired by Assistant Professor Johannes Servan, University of Bergen.

Christine Straehle is Professor for Practical Philosophy at the University of Hamburg. Her work is at the intersection of moral and political philosophy and public policy, which is to say that she examines the moral justifiability of existing public policies and makes normative recommendation on how to design just public policies.

Straehle starts from the premise that addressing societal challenges such as labour shortages or the ethical implications of technologies of assisted reproduction benefit from philosophical analysis and reflection, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Results of this work are numerous articles, several edited collections, including The Political Philosophy of Refuge (Cambridge University Press) and Vulnerability, Autonomy and Applied Ethics (Routledge 2017). Her latest work is Debating the Surrogacy (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) and her monograph on Vulnerability, Territory, and Migration (in preparation).

Before joining the University of Hamburg, she was  Professor of Ethics and Applied Ethics at the University of Ottawa, and Professor of Social Philosophy at UQAM. Since her arrival at the University of Ottawa, she has also been recruited as the inaugural and founding director of the Centre for Philosophy, Politics and Economics in the Faculty of Philosophy at Groningen University in 2016, where she also held the Chair in Philosophy and Public Affairs.

Straehle has received prestigious fellowships and prizes in recognition of her work: she has been awarded a DAAD Professorship to spend the academic year 2015-2016 in Hamburg, has been a CEPPA fellow at the University of St. Andrews, at the Fondation Brocher in Switzerland, and Justitia Amplificata in Frankfurt, and is an Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford. In 2019, Straehle became a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, and was awarded the Kitty Newman Prize for Social and Political Philosophy. Since 2021, she has also been a member of the Hamburg Academy of Science. In 2022-2023, Straehle will be senior research fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies in Uppsala.