Youth & Educator Conversations: Climate Impacts on Human Migration

Youth & Educator Conversations: Climate Impacts on Human Migration

Part of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute's (GMRI) climate-focused work is to support a network of regional peer communities of teachers, informal educators, and librarians as they work with youth to investigate locally compelling and relevant impacts of climate change. That work is a natural fit with Gateway Community Service Maine's Color of Climate Youth Coalition, which also aims to center the experiences and leadership of frontline communities in this changing climate, as they foster a learning ecosystem focused on supporting immigrant/refugee youth. 

Early conversations with Gateway revealed how the youth that they serve, from families of origin across the globe, have a unique and complex perspective on climate change, with a very global perspective on what kinds of climate impacts might be considered "local" for them. Upon listening to youth and colleagues at Gateway, it became clear that questions about the relationship between climate change and global human migration are one of their front and center areas of concern. Those conversations inspired the idea to create a speaker series focused on this issue to allow educators and youth across the state to explore these topics further.

On March 7th, 2022, over 50 youth, formal/informal educators, and community members from across Maine engaged in the first installment of this four-part speaker series on climate-driven global human migration. Discussing the "Myths of Managed Retreat," speakers Dr. A.R. Siders (University of Delaware, NASA Subject Matter Expert) and Erica Bowen (Stanford University) shared their research on the impact of systemic racism on adaptation strategies, such as property buyout programs and community-wide planned migration. A youth-only conversation with the speakers highlighted: 

(1) the many drivers of individual and community displacement, 
(2) the uncertainties associated with projecting the magnitude of climate migration in the decades ahead, and
(3) how historical "solutions" have often been characterized by a lack of transparency, inclusivity, and equity. 

This activity was hosted by NASA Science Activation's GMRI-led Learning Ecosystems Northeast project and project member, Gateway Community Services of Maine. Designed to serve the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) youth within the Color of Climate Youth Coalition, activities like these help demonstrate the awesome possibility and potential of the kinds of investigations learning ecosystems and youth can engage in – using NASA data!

"Get engaged in local politics … in the local planning board … as youth, you are going to have to deal with the future they build. You should get a say in what that future is … about what you want the community to look like when you’re 50." -- A. R. Siders

For more information about the Series and to register for upcoming talks, please visit

(NASA Science Activation Award Number: NNX16AB94A)

A diagram portraying the five stages of U.S. Voluntary Property Acquisition Buyout. Each stage has a list of considerations.