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Vickery ’22, Quinn author paper about DEI, climate policy

Caroline Vickery ’22.

Last updated May 23, 2024

By Tina Underwood

An article published in the Journal of Environmental Management reveals a need for a greater focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice when it comes to climate change and forest management policy.

white man in ball cap wears glasses and poses outdoors

John Quinn, Department of Biology.

The authors, Caroline Vickery, a 2022 Furman University Earth and environmental science alumna, and John Quinn, associate professor of biology and director of environmental studies at Furman, teamed in a literature review to assess the occurrence of DEIJ topics in more than 2,800 forest, climate and policy peer-reviewed articles published between 2018 and 2021, and offered several examples of how climate policy impacts marginalized groups.

“I was surprised by the results,” Vickery said about the scarcity of diversity and environmental justice themes that emerged from the study. “I expected more case studies about instances of environmental injustice related to forest and climate policy,” she said, considering the academic conversations swirling around the issues.

Vickery said the study stemmed from a keen interest in the intersection of forestry, climate change and political policy. The overall public fascination with forests as a great mitigator of climate change also prompted the study. She explained that forests, a biological carbon sink, go a long way toward advancing climate goals, but they also “provide livelihoods and hold cultural significance for many peoples, which can be threatened when policies change forest management.”

So, Vickery and Quinn sought to uncover whether the literature considered this potential outcome of climate-related forest policy, and if so, they wanted to quantify the conversations in the context of the broader literature.

Ultimately, Vickery hopes the paper becomes a call to action for researchers looking into forest and climate policy.

“I hope researchers will increasingly acknowledge that underrepresented voices do exist,” she said.

“We know that many different people beyond the narrow space of academic research bring important insight,” Quinn added. “Global efforts like those of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) point out that we need to equally elevate their voices, but Caroline’s work shows that it has not happened across the last five years.”

While Vickery concedes that her research hasn’t yet evolved to specifically identify those diverse voices and stakeholders, she’s not done unearthing more data. At Virginia Tech, she wrapped her first academic semester on her way to a master’s in forest resources and environmental conservation. She’s now in full-time research mode there.

“I’m conducting another literature review, so this research project with John paved the way for me to succeed in my current work,” Vickery said. “It’s clear DEI-related research needs to increase. I have the opportunity to help raise some of the low numbers we reported in this study, which is really cool.”

As an undergrad, Vickery was also named first author on a research article published in Environmental Management. The link to Vickery’s and Quinn’s latest paper, “Forest, climate, and policy literature lacks acknowledgement of environmental justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion,” is available for a limited time. Furman University ID holders may access the content through databases located at Furman University Libraries.

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