Adjunct professor, Department of Geography
Coordinator, Environmental Studies Program
Member of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and thereby authorized to supervise theses.
2005 – PhD in Geography, University of Guelph
1995 – M.Sc. in Environmental Management, Centre for Urban Planning and Environmental Management, University of Hong Kong
1989 – BA in Geography, University of Western Ontario
Fields of interest
- Human vulnerability and adaptation to environmental change, particularly climate change
- Relationship between environmental conditions and human migration
- Environment and security
- Environmental limits to urban growth
- Sustainable development
2006-present Department of Geography, University of Ottawa
2005-2006 Post-doctoral Fellow, Global Environmental Change Group, Department of Geography, University of Guelph
1999-2002 First Secretary and Immigration Control Officer, Canadian Embassy, Vienna, Austria
1996-1999 Vice Consul and Immigration Operations Manager, Canadian Consulate General, Seattle, USA
1992-1996 Second Secretary, Commission for Canada, Hong Kong
1992 Third Secretary, Canadian High Commission, New Delhi, India
1990 Third Secretary, Canadian Embassy, Belgrade, Yugoslavia
- ENV1101B Global Environmental Challenges
- ENV2301 History of Environmental Thought
- ENV4910 Cours de terrain – Rural sustainable development
- ENV4920 Senior Research Seminar – Humans and Nature in Conflict
Dr. McLeman uses highly innovative methods in the classroom to help students explore challenging concepts and to develop their own ideas and interpretations on the origins of pressing contemporary environmental issues and on possible ways of responding to them. Students in Dr. McLeman’s past courses have briefed senior government officials and written editorial pieces for large newspapers. Classroom activities have included simulations of such ‘real-life’ activities as preparing briefing books for government ministers and conducting international negotiations on implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Dr. McLeman draws upon regional literature and poetry, film, music and other media to bring to life scientific theories, methods and concepts. Visit his blog at www.thisgeographicallife.blogspot.com
Ongoing research project
Environmental Conditions and International Migration to CanadaThis multi-researcher, multi-disciplinary project led by Dr. McLeman represents the first systematic attempt to determine if environmental factors in other countries influence migration to Canada. Using community-based research, this project engages members of migrant communities, settlement support workers and legal experts in Ottawa-Gatineau and Toronto to gather empirical evidence on how environmental events or conditions in other countries may have shaped migrants’ decisions to come to Canada. Findings will be incorporated into an expert legal analysis to generate recommendations for mainstreaming environmental concerns into national and international policies on migration, settlement assistance and refugee protection. The project runs until 2014.
Integrated assessment of population and critical resource vulnerabilities to climate risks, in support of community and regional adaptation policy-making and planning
This project runs from 2009-2012 and conducts a broad-based and integrated multi-year assessment of the physical and socio-economic vulnerability to emergent climate risks in a critical eastern Ontario region. The study region is the headwaters for six large rivers serving millions of Canadians, and has high levels of commercially-desirable forests, mineral, and biodiversity. Significant changes climatic conditions and extremes have been observed there in recent years. The region features unresolved First Nations land claims, broad-based public protests over uranium mining, rapid demographic change and stubbornly persistent poverty and socio-economic underdevelopment. Through four concurrent research components, a research team from three universities working with local residents and governments will generate a comprehensive regional assessment of the vulnerability of communities, livelihoods and social groups to climate change. Potential risks to critical water, forest, biodiversity and alternative energy resources in the region will be identified, and decision-makers and the general public will be provided with physical evidence, GIS-based information technologies, and frameworks to assist in climate change adaptation planning.
Environmental change and human security
Dr. McLeman collaborates with researchers in Canada and abroad, and through organizations such as the International Institute for Sustainable Development, on a variety of research projects that investigate interactions between environmental change, human wellbeing, migration and state security. Examples include studies of environmental refugees, climate change-related threats to Canadian security, linkages between sustainable development and refugee protection, and climate change and migration in West Africa.
Past research projects
Climate change and migration in western Canada
This SSHRC-funded project ran from 2007-2007 and investigated the impacts of climate on demographic patterns on the Canadian Prairies using GIS models and qualitative field research. The GIS work combined historical climate model data with population census data to identify “hotspots” where population numbers appear to be strongly influenced by drought and other climatic extremes. Student researchers then traveled to selected hotspots to study the specific nature of human-environment interactions in those locales and to understand how and why migration patterns respond to climatic conditions.
Adaptive capacity-building and sustainable development in Canadian rural and remote communities: The role of information and communication technologies
Under this SSHRC-funded Knowledge Synthesis on Canada’s Digital Economy, Dr. McLeman and his graduate student team completed a systematic literature review of the type generally associated with the health sciences, to identify key challenges, barriers and opportunities for harnessing broadband and wireless communications to enhance rural sustainable development. This report contributes to Industry Canada’s national consultations on the digital economy, and was a feature editorial in the Globe and Mail’s online Technology section. [html link: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/connect-the-dots-bring-broadband-to-all-canadians/article1781487/].
Adaptation to uncertain futures in Canadian rural communities
This collaborative project sponsored by Natural Resources Canada involved research teams from several Canadian universities and community stakeholders from three rural Canadian municipalities. Dr. McLeman’s team, which included 2 graduate students, worked with the community of Edwardsburgh-Cardinal, Ontario to identify opportunities and barriers for enhancing the future capacity of residents to adapt to a range of stresses related to climate, land use change, changing currency exchange rates and rising energy costs. The final report from this project may be obtained from Dr. McLeman upon request.
Vulnerability to climate variability and change in seasonal economy communities
Residents of seasonal economy communities engage in a number of land-based livelihood activities that vary according to season. This project sponsored by Natural Resources Canada investigated the vulnerability of social and economic activities of residents of Addington Highlands, Ontario, to ongoing changes in climatic conditions. The final project report to the community, which includes recommendations for policymakers on options for reducing future vulnerability and enhancing adaptive capacity, can be accessed from the project website www.addington.uottawa.ca
Drought-related migration in the southern Great Plains
This multi-year project investigated the ways by which rural household and communities adapted to conditions of extreme drought and economic collapse in the southern Great Plains during the 1930s. In what was one of North America’s worst environmental disasters, hundreds of thousands of people adapted by migrating out of drought-stricken areas, many moving to California in what has been popularly described as the “Dust Bowl migration”. Dr. McLeman has used this case to explore new theories of human migration behaviour based on household access to capital and test typologies of agricultural adaptation to climate change (see publications list below). Dr. McLeman hopes to return to the southern Plains in coming years to study how urban centres are coping with drought-related shortages in water supplies.
McLEMAN, R. (2011). Climate change, migration, and critical international security considerations. Geneva: International Organization for Migration. Migration Research Series Report No. 42. [html link: http://publications.iom.int/bookstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_3&products_id=688].
McLEMAN, R. 2010. Impacts of population change on vulnerability and the capacity to adapt to climate change and variability: a typology based on lessons from a hard country. Population and Environment, 31(5), 286-316.
McLEMAN, R., & Hunter, L. M. 2010. Migration in the Context of Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change: Insights from Analogues. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1(3), 450-461.
McLEMAN, R., Herold, S., Reljic, Z., Sawada, M., & McKenney, D. 2010. GIS-based modeling of drought and historical population change on the Canadian Prairies. Journal of Historical Geography, 36(1), 43-56.
McLEMAN, R. 2010. On the origins of environmental migration. Fordham Environmental Law Review, 20(2), 403-425.
Gilbert, G., & McLEMAN, R. 2010. Household access to capital and its effects on drought adaptation and migration: A case study of rural Alberta in the 1930s. Population and Environment DOI: 10.1007/s11111-010-0112-2.
Sander-Regier, R., McLEMAN, R., Brklacich, M., & Woodrow, M. 2010. Planning for climate change in Canadian rural and resource-based communities. Environments, 37(1), 35-57.
McLEMAN, R. and Brown, O. In press. “Climate change and human migration”. In S. Martin and K. Koser (eds) The Migration-Displacement Nexus: Concepts, Cases and Responses, Berghahn Books, New York.
McLEMAN, R., Brklacich, M., Woodrow, M., Gallagher, P., Vodden, K. and Sander-Regier, R. In press. Opportunities and Barriers for Adaptation in Canadian Rural and Resource-based Communities. In J. Ford & L. B. Ford (Eds.), Climate Change Adaptation in Developed Nations: Springer.
McLEMAN, R. 2009. Climate change and adaptive human migration: lessons from rural North America. In N. W. Adger, I. Lorenzoni & K. O'Brien (Eds.), Adapting to climate change: thresholds, values, governance (pp. 296-310). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, O., & McLEMAN, R. 2009. A Recurring Anarchy?: The emergence of climate change as a threat to international peace and security. Conflict, Security and Development, 9(3), 289-305.
McLEMAN, R. and Gilbert, G. 2008. Adaptation to climate change in Addington Highlands: A report to the community, Department of Geography, University of Ottawa, 35p.
McLEMAN, R., 2008. Climate change migration, refugee protection and adaptive capacity-building. McGill International Journal for Sustainable Development Law and Policy 4(1) 1-18.
McLEMAN, R., Mayo, D., Strebeck, E. and Smit, B., 2008. Drought Adaptation in rural Eastern Oklahoma in the 1930s: Lessons for climate change adaptation research. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. 13:379-400.
McLEMAN, R., 2007 “Household access to capital and its influence on climate-related rural population change: Lessons from the Dust Bowl years”. In: Farming in a Changing Climate: Agricultural Adaptation in Canada, E. Wall et al. (eds), University of British Columbia Press, 200-216.
Brown, O., Hammill, A., and McLEMAN, R., Climate change as the ‘new’ security threat: Implications for Africa. International Affairs 83: 1141-1154, 2007.
McLEMAN, R. 2007. Changement climatique, migration et avenir de la sécurité canadienne. Le Multilatéral 1:20-23.
McLEMAN, R. and Smit, B. 2006. Changement climatique, migrations et sécurité. Les Cahiers de la sécurité 63:95-120.
McLEMAN, R. 2006. Migration out of 1930s rural Eastern Oklahoma: Insights for climate change research. Great Plains Quarterly 26(1) 27-40.
McLEMAN, R. and Smit, B. 2006. Migration as a human adaptation to climate change. Climatic Change 76(1-2) 31-53.
McLEMAN, R. and Smit, B. 2006. Vulnerability to climate change hazards and risks: crop and flood insurance. The Canadian Geographer 50(2) 217-226.
Nyong. A., Fiki, C., and McLEMAN, R. 2006. Drought-related conflicts, management and resolution in the West African Sahel: considerations for climate change research. Die Erde 137:223-248.
Johnson, C. and McLeman, R. 2005. Vulnerability and the environment: Ecological, socio-economic and institutional dimensions of exposure, adaptation and collapse. Funded research paper for The Geneva Association.
McLeman, R. Global warming’s huddled masses, Feature op-ed, Ottawa Citizen, Thursday, November 23, 2006.
McLeman, R. Distill wisdom from grapes of wrath, Feature op-ed, The Globe and Mail, Monday, August 7, 2006.
McLeman, R. and Smit, B. 2004. Climate change, migration and security. Canadian Security and Intelligence Service Commentary, No. 86McLeman, R. 2004. Refugee protection and sustainable development. Canadian Issues, March, 2004