Petra Tschakert

Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M004), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 1.29b, Geology and Geography Building, Perth campus

    6009 Crawley

    Australia

  • 1040 Citations
  • 15 h-Index
20052021

Personal profile

Biography

My research activities and practice focus broadly on human-environment interactions and more specifically on rural livelihoods, environmental change, marginalization, social learning, and deliberate societal transformation. My academic training is in Geography, Applied Anthropology, and Arid Lands Resources Sciences. My main interest lies in the theoretical and empirical intersections of political ecology, environmental justice, complex systems science, and participatory research. It is the result of a long-term commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and extended periods of field work and capacity building, particularly in West Africa. I seek to understand the strategies small-scale resource users, primarily subsistence farmers and miners, employ in adapting to environmental stresses, coping with socio-economic, political, and institutional exclusion, and dealing with intangible losses. I draw on participatory research (PR) as an epistemological framework that promotes critical engagement with marginalized communities (of space and practice). I have found that participatory mapping, diagramming, environmental theatre, and participatory video are wonderful albeit not uncontested tools to open up alternative routes for 'doing' geography. My ultimate goal is to expand people’s opportunities for enhancing livelihood resilience.

Dr. Tschakert is Centenary Professor in Rural Development. She coordinates the UWA Master of International Development.

Professor Tschakert is Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of Chapter 5 "Sustainable Development, Poverty Eradication and Reducing Inequalities" of the Special Report on 1.5C Global Warming of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Previously, she was CLA on the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), on Chapter 13 (“Livelihoods and Poverty”) of the Working Group II Report on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, and was part of the Core Writing Team of the AR5 Synthesis Report.

PhD, 2003, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA: Arid Lands Resource Sciences, with minor in Applied Anthropology
MagPhil, 1991, Karl Franzens Universitaet, Graz, Austria: Geography & Economics, French

Roles and responsibilities

Teaching:
Tschakert co-coordinates the Master of International Development at UWA.
GEOG5002: Case Studies in Development Practice
GEOG5004: Place-based Development

She also co-ordinates the new Broadening A unit GEOG1104 Disasters!

Funding overview

• Worldwide Universities Network (WUN): Non-market valuation of loss and damage under climate change, Tschakert PI (Barnett, Tuana, Pannell, Alston, Woodward, New, Ziervogel, Abu, Sallu, Prout, Bessette, Pandit, Kragt, Godden Co-PIs), 2016, £ 10,000
• UWA, Research Collaboration Award: Non-market valuation of loss and damage under climate change, Tschakert PI, 2016, AUD17,000
• National Science Foundation (NSF-CNH): Climatic Extremes, Mining, and Mycobacterium Ulcerans: A Coupled Systems Approach (reBUild), Tschakert PI (Amankwah, Smithwick, Oppong, Singha, Parker, and Ward Co-PIs), a collaboration between the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Mines and Technology, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the University of Ghana, the Ghana Health Directorate (all in Ghana), the University of Northern Texas, the Colorado School of Mines, and the University of Iowa, 2009-2015. US$1,421,997.
• Pennsylvania State University, Social Science Research Institute: Building a Research Infrastructure on Human and Environmental Health in the West African Gold Mining Sector, Tschakert (PI), 2007-2008. US$17,395
• Pennsylvania State University, Africa Research Center: Contaminated Identities: Impacts of Arsenic & Mercury Exposure among Small-Scale Miners in Ghana, Tschakert (PI) (K. Singha Co-PI), 2006-2007. US$9,980
• Pennsylvania State University, EMS Wilson Research Initiation Grant: The Rocky Path to Sustainability: Livelihood Risks and Opportunities among Small-Scale Gold Miners in Ghana, Tschakert (PI), 2006-2007. US$9,864
• National Science Foundation (Office of International Science and Engineering), US-Ghana Workshop on Resilience in the Small-Scale Mining Sector of Ghana, Tschakert (PI), 2007-2009. US$59,609.
• National Institutes of Health: Global Health and Georesource Management in Africa, Airhihenbuwa (PI), 2006-2009. US$192,375.
• International Social Science Council (ISSC): TCHANGE – Addressing the Climate Crisis through Value Transformation, Tschakert PI, in collaboration with partners in South Africa, India, UK, Norway, and the US, 2014-2015. €29,980
• International Social Science Council (ISSC): KNET - Knowledge Network for Enabling Transformation, Fazey PI, 2014-2015. €29,887.
• Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway: Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP), Agrawal project manager, 2011-2016. US$12,000,000.
• National Science Foundation (NSF-DRU): Anticipatory Learning for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (ALCCAR), Tschakert PI (Tamminga, Prins, Crane, Liwenga, Modoc, Asiedu, Keju, Shaffer Co-PIs), in collaboration with the University of Ghana, the University of Dar-es-Salaam, The Afram Plains Development Organization (APDO), and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Tanzania, 2009-2013. US$749,478.
• Worldwide Universities Network (WUN): Limits to Adaptation, Tschakert PI (Ziervogel, Alston, Wittenbury, Tuana, Shackleton, Mugera, Crane CO-PIs), in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, University of Western Australia, and Monash University, 2011-2012. US$53,750.
• USAID: Climate Change Collective Learning and Observatory Network Ghana (CCLONG), Tschakert PI (Codjoe, Adiku, Abekoe, Sagoe Co-PIs), in collaboration with the University of Ghana, 2006-2010. US$759,928.
• Worldwide Universities Network (WUN): Gender and Climate Change, Tuana and Sachs PI, 2010-2012. £ 20,000.
• AESEDA/Pennsylvania State University: Climate and Society in Senegal, Fuentes PI, in collaboration with the University of Cheikh Anta Diop, 2011-2013. US$77,500.
• Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment: “A Stronger, More Resilient New York”: Responding to Sandy in the Rockaways, Tschakert (PI), 2014-2015. US$21,446.
• Penn State Sustainability Institute: Climate Change and Conflict Management, Fowler (PI), 2014-2015. US$49,500.
• Worldwide Universities Network (WUN): Resilient pasts and sustainable futures? Designing socially significant scenarios, R. Marchant (PI), 2012-2013. £ 20,000.
• Research Council of Norway: Transformative change: Integrating responsibilities, solidarity, and care into dominant climate science, policy and public discourse - Agenda setting workshop. A. St. Clair (PI), 2012. US$32,200.
• Advancing Capacity to Support Climate Change Adaptation (ACCCA), UNITAR: Food Security and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Afram Plains of Ghana, Codjoe (PI), 2007-2008. US$69,724.
• Pennsylvania State University, George H. Deike, Jr. Research Grant: Solastalgia: Environmentally-Induced Distress and Illness due to Climatic Changes among Africa's Poor, Tschakert PI (Tutu Co-PI), 2008-2010. US$49,967.
• US Agency for International Development (USAID), through USGS/USDI: Spatially Explicit Modeling of Soil Organic Carbon (SEMSOC) in Ghana, Mali, Niger & Burkina Faso, Tschakert (PI), 2004-2006. US$250,000
• Canada-Panama Fund, Canadian Embassy in Panama, and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA): Proyecto de carbono para atraer y manejar inversiones en forma de bonos verdes, Potvin (PI), 2003-2005. US$72,710
• US Agency for International Development (USAID): Sequestration of Carbon in Soil Organic Matter (SOCSOM) in Senegal, Tieszen (PI), 200-2003. US$315,000

New and Noteworthy

PhD students:
- Karen Paiva Henrique: Contested Grounds: Examining the Contours of Flood Adaptation along São Paulo’s Tietê River
- Claudia Franca de Abreu: Belonging in Postcolonial times: The Guarani revitalization movement as a means of achieving resilience and wellbeing in indigenous communities
- Thanh Hoang Trung: Wetland management: Understanding and Responding to Multiple Environmental Stressors in the Tam Giang Coastal Lagoon, Vietnam
- Mark Crosweller: The Ethical Premise of Leading People through the Adversity and Losses of Disasters
- Thi Hong Van Le: The politics of transformation for sustainable future adaptation: A case study in the Mekong and Red River delta regions in Vietnam
- Alicea Garcia: Identity, Subjectivity, and Power: How gendered determinants of social inequality affect smallholders' capacities to adapt to climate change in Ghana's Central Region
- Muhammad Rafay Muzamil: The politics of climate change adaptation in the context of conflict: Implications for rural livelihoods in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan
- Basil Amuzu-Sefordzi: Renewable energy adoption in sub-Saharan Africa: A case study from Ghana

Previous positions

Pennsylvania State University, Department of Geography and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (2005-2015)

Research

Research areas: human-environment interactions, rural livelihoods, development, environmental justice, participatory methodologies
Research projects: climate change adaptation, adaptive capacity, anticipatory learning, and loss and damage; marginalization, contamination, and justice in small-scale gold mining; deliberate societal transformation; environmental/climatic changes and forced migration; terrestrial carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation

** Worldwide Universities Network (WUN): Non-market valuation of loss and damage under climate change. Tschakert PI (Barnett, Tuana, Pannell, Alston, Woodward, New, Ziervogel, Abu, Sallu, Prout, Bessette, Pandit, Kragt, Godden Co-PIs). Loss and damage (L&D) is generally defined as the residual cost to of climate change to societies, after mitigation and adaptation. Some aspects of LD can be given an economic value (e.g. damage to infrastructure), but other aspects are difficult or impossible to value economically (e.g. identity and place), and are termed non-economic or non-market loss and damage (NMLD). We explore possible frameworks to NMLD “valuation” that are consistent with recent thinking about limits to adaptation, tolerable and intolerable losses. Drawing on case studies of climate change impacts from across the developed and developing world, we re-interrogate previous literature to define a typology of NMLD through the lens of what people value, and the potential for loss. We use case studies that represent different livelihoods and climatic stressors, for instance from the Western Australian Wheat Belt, New Orleans, Niue Island in the South Pacific, dryland farming systems in Northern Ghana, and indigenous populations in the United States and Australia.
** Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway: Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP). The HICAP project is an interdisciplinary, applied, and policy-relevant research collaboration between CICERO, GRID-Arendal, and ICIMOD to enhance adaptive capacities and resilience among marginalized mountain populations in the Hindu Kush - Himalayas. It is structured around seven key components: climate change scenarios, water availability and demand scenarios, ecosystem services, food security, vulnerability, women and gender in adaptation, and communication and outreach. Tschakert explores gendered adaptive capacities in Nepal (with S. Bisht and D. Gurung) and flexible flood management in Assam/India (with P. Das and N. Pradhan).
** National Science Foundation (NSF-DRU): Anticipatory Learning for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (ALCCAR), Tschakert PI (Tamminga, Prins, Crane, Liwenga, Modoc, Asiedu, Keju, Shaffer Co-PIs). At the core of the ALCCAR project in Ghana and Tanzania was a resilience-enhancing approach that emphasizes an iterative way of analyzing and learning about changes and uncertainties in the past, present, and future. By focusing explicitly on learning processes and decision-support tools, the aim of the project was to reverse the deterministic notion of presumably vulnerable groups as passive victims of climate change by highlighting people's skills, anticipatory capacity, and agency for adaptation planning rather than learning by shock. The project used a series of learning activities such as walking journeys, participatory scenario building, layered mapping, and environmental theatre to enhance adaptive capacity and flexible planning under uncertainty. See the ALCCAR flyer here.
** Worldwide Universities Network (WUN): Limits to Adaptation, Tschakert PI (Ziervogel, Alston, Wittenbury, Tuana, Shackleton, Mugera, Crane CO-PIs). The Limits to Adaptation project catalyzed interdisciplinary research on barriers and limits to climate change adaptation. We looked specifically at the agro-economic, institutional, and justice factors that prevent successful adaptation, both in the short- and the long-term, and identified critical thresholds as to when adaptation may be neither feasible nor desirable but requiring the transformation of entire eco-regions and/or livelihoods. Such transformations imply difficult ethical decisions that are currently avoided in the adaptation community.
** USAID: Climate Change Collective Learning and Observatory Network Ghana (CCLONG), Tschakert PI (Codjoe, Adiku, Abekoe, Sagoe Co-PIs). Research under CCLONG focused on enhancing adaptive capacity to climate change in rural communities in Ghana by building a sound information exchange infrastructure that brings the science of climate change and the implications for people and the environment to a level that is understandable, accessible, and beneficial to multiple parties. The main objectives were to understand local perceptions and experiences of climatic changes and extremes, examine determinants of adaptive capacity, and identify a variety of adaptation options for anticipated climate futures. The study followed a social/collective learning approach where project participants engage in learning activities and experiments that, ultimately, may enhance livelihood resilience to climatic and other stressors. Watch the CCLONG project video here. See the flyers for CCLONG.
** National Science Foundation (NSF-CNH): Climatic Extremes, Mining, and Mycobacterium Ulcerans: A Coupled Systems Approach (reBUild), Tschakert PI (Amankwah, Smithwick, Oppong, Singha, Parker, and Ward Co-PIs). The reBUild project focuses on an ostracizing discourse that connects small-scale gold mining to the transmission of Buruli ulcer, a debilitating skin disease, in Ghana. Our team uses a coupled social-ecological systems approach to identify linkages and non-linear dynamics between land disturbance through mining and logging, flooding events that result in stagnant water, and human behavior in potential risk areas to unravel the so far unknown transmission of this tropical disease. The project also entails a sister school component that links the Penns Valley School District in Central Pennsylvania with elementary and high schools in the partner communities in Ghana to explore linkages between environmental change and disease. For details, see the project flyer and our project website project website.
** Penn State University, Wilson and ARC Research Grants: In Ghana, more than half a million men and women are employed in the artisanal mining sector. Applying a political ecology and environmental justice lens, I examined the links between the contested use of mercury – the only extraction method available to artisanal gold miners – and their marginalization through large-scale corporations and public, academic, and state discourses. I used a participatory research design to expose how these persistent discourses that portray artisanal miners as contaminating criminals preclude them for being environmental stewards. Recognizing the miners as knowledgeable peers allowed me to create parity-fostering spaces for engagement and construct counter-narratives for livelihood resilience in this sector.
** International Social Science Council (ISSC): TCHANGE – Addressing the Climate Crisis through Value Transformation, Tschakert PI, in collaboration with partners in South Africa, India, UK, Norway. TCHANGE examined the drivers behind deliberate societal transformation in the context of climate change. Our team aimed to understand under what conditions people break out of their entrenched values and behaviors and act responsibly in an inter-connected world because they feel connected to human and non-human others. We asked: (1) What sets of values, attitudes, and belief systems with respect to climate change drive people do act responsibly, both individually and collectively? Does this responsibility include only close others or also distant others (somewhere else on the planet, future generations)? Does it also include non-human actors (nature)? How does it translate into ethical and deliberate place making? (2) What educational practices support transformative processes? What models of stewardship to exist? What commitment is there to sustainability? How can these experiences inform formal education approaches?
** Pennsylvania State University, George H. Deike, Jr. Research Grant: Solastalgia: Environmentally-Induced Distress and Illness due to Climatic Changes among Africa's Poor, Tschakert PI (Tutu Co-PI). We explored the psychological and emotional distress triggered by slow-onset, creeping environmental changes. Unlike other health-related impacts of climatic changes (e.g. vector-borne diseases), the role of sadness, depression, and desperation caused by significantly altered environments had been largely ignored. We were interested in the intersection of environmental deterioration, internal migration, and livelihood transformation. In a case study in Ghana, men and women who have moved from the northern regions to slums and shanty towns in Accra, the capital, were interviewed with respect to their motives, expectation, and experiences. Research focused on environmentally-induced illness and potential loss of belonging - termed 'solastalgia' - of those who stay behind in increasingly 'pathological homes.' This work contributed to the debate on environmental refugees.
** My doctoral research on soil carbon sequestration in the Old Peanut Basin, a semi-arid region in west-central Senegal, involved smallholders in subsistence, rain-fed farming systems. I investigated land use and soil fertility management practices, local knowledge bases, and the impact of historical and current policies on changes in land use and management strategies. I took soil and biomass carbon measurements, used CENTURY to model carbon stocks, and evaluated 'best' carbon management options.
** As a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University, I worked on community-based carbon offset projects with indigenous (Emberá) smallholders at the tropical forest margin in Panama. This included the conceptualization of an entire landscape approach to carbon sequestration and strong institutional capacity building through collective learning. In a follow-up to my post-doc work, I was involved in assessing risks, barriers, disadvantages for implementing REDD projects (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) in indigenous communities from a rights-based angle, also in Panama.

Languages

English
German
French; some Spanish

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

climate change Social Sciences
learning Earth & Environmental Sciences
Ghana Social Sciences
miner Social Sciences
vulnerability Earth & Environmental Sciences
gold Social Sciences
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Earth & Environmental Sciences
climate Earth & Environmental Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2016 2021

Research Output 2005 2018

4 Citations

Ten essentials for action-oriented and second order energy transitions, transformations and climate change research

Fazey, I. , Schäpke, N. , Caniglia, G. , Patterson, J. , Hultman, J. , van Mierlo, B. , Säwe, F. , Wiek, A. , Wittmayer, J. , Aldunce, P. , Al Waer, H. , Battacharya, N. , Bradbury, H. , Carmen, E. , Colvin, J. , Cvitanovic, C. , D'Souza, M. , Gopel, M. , Goldstein, B. , Hämäläinen, T. & 28 others Harper, G., Henfry, T., Hodgson, A., Howden, M. S., Kerr, A., Klaes, M., Lyon, C., Midgley, G., Moser, S., Mukherjee, N., Müller, K., O'Brien, K., O'Connell, D. A., Olsson, P., Page, G., Reed, M. S., Searle, B., Silvestri, G., Spaiser, V., Strasser, T., Tschakert, P., Uribe-Calvo, N., Waddell, S., Rao-Williams, J., Wise, R., Wolstenholme, R., Woods, M. & Wyborn, C. 1 Jun 2018 In : Energy Research and Social Science. 40, p. 54-70 17 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Open Access
Climate change
climate change
energy
climate
Carbon
6 Citations

Climate change and loss, as if people mattered: values, places, and experiences

Tschakert, P., Barnett, J., Ellis, N., Lawrence, C., Tuana, N., New, M., Elrick-Barr, C., Pandit, R. & Pannell, D. 2017 In : Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: WIREs Climate Change. 8, 5, 19 p., e476

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

19 Citations

Why equity is fundamental in climate change policy research

Klinsky, S., Roberts, T., Huq, S., Okereke, C., Newell, P., Dauvergne, P., O'Brien, K., Schroeder, H., Tschakert, P., Clapp, J., Keck, M., Biermann, F., Liverman, D., Gupta, J., Rahman, A., Messner, D., Pellow, D. & Bauer, S. May 2017 In : Global Environmental Change. 44, p. 170-173 4 p., 1619

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

research policy
equity
climate change
climate
justice
11 Citations

A science of loss

Barnett, J., Tschakert, P., Head, L. & Adger, W. N. 1 Nov 2016 In : Nature Climate Change. 6, 11, p. 976-978 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

climate change
grief
science
Values
loss
13 Citations

Micropolitics in collective learning spaces for adaptive decision making

Tschakert, P., Das, P. J., Shrestha Pradhan, N., Machado, M., Lamadrid, A., Buragohain, M. & Hazarika, M. A. 1 Sep 2016 In : Global Environmental Change. 40, p. 182-194 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
micro-politics
learning
decision making
politics
power politics