Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

January 24, 2023

Reading List: Vulnerable Coastlines

CEGU’s “Vulnerable Coastlines” panel on November 17th invited Liz Koslov, Rachel Gittman, and Chandana Anusha to discuss issues in coastal flooding and ecology from the perspective of their different research backgrounds, moderated by CEGU professor Michael Fisch. Focusing on neighborhoods in Staten Island in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the responses of property owners in North Carolina to hurricanes, and the impact of large-scale coastline transformation to construct a port in Western India, the panel is part of a series investigating the social, historical, spatial and (geo)political dimensions of contemporary environmental transformations and crises. In case you missed the event, or want to be reminded about what was discussed, here are links to some of the research cited by the panelists.

Liz Koslov is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the Institute of the Environment & Sustainability at UCLA, who focuses on environmental justice and the responses of cities to the effects of climate change. She has published many articles, including “How Maps Make Time: Temporal conflicts of life in the flood zone” in City: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action and “When rebuilding no longer means recovery: the stress of staying put after Hurricane Sandy” in Climatic Change.

In her opening statements, Professor Kozlov made reference to Orrin Pilkey, who is a professor emeritus of earth sciences at Duke University who published the article “We Need to Retreat From the Beach” in the New York Times in 2012, arguing against the construction of new housing in high-risk flood zones.

In reference to disaster mitigation, she also referenced “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn,” which is a 1995 article published in the Environmental History Review by the writer and historian Mike Davis, and the “Green Dot Map,” which is the colloquial term for a map in which the New Orleans Urban Planning Committee suggested permanently turning neighborhoods in the city that were heavily destroyed by Hurricane Katrina into parkland.

Rachel Gittman is an Assistant Professor of Biology at East Carolina University who studies changes in the coastal environment. She works with the Coastal Ecology Lab, a research association between several institutions in the UNC system.

Professor Gittman discussed developments in “living shoreline” technology, which use natural materials to enhance coastal resilience against storms and prevent erosion. One such innovation is QuickReef , which are better optimized for shallow waters and make use of alternative substrates.

Chandana Anusha is a postdoctoral fellow at the Kaplan Humanities Institute at Northwestern University. Her dissertation, “The Living Coast: Port Development and Ecological Transformations in the Gulf of Kutch, Western India” focuses on social and environmental dynamics in coastal India through the lens of the construction of the international port in the Gulf of Kutch.


Davis, Mike. “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn.” Environmental History Review 19, no. 2 (1995): 1–36. https://doi.org/10.2307/3984830.

Koslov, Liz, Alexis Merdjanoff, Elana Sulakshana, and Eric Klinenberg. “When Rebuilding No Longer Means Recovery: The Stress of Staying Put after Hurricane Sandy.” Climatic Change 165, no. 3-4 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-021-03069-1.

Koslov, Liz. “How Maps Make Time: Temporal Conflicts of Life in the Flood Zone.” City: Urban Change, Theory, Action 23, no. 4-5 (2019): 658–72. https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2019.1690337.

Pilkey, Orrin. “We Need to Retreat From the Beach.” The New York Times, 2012. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/opinion/a-beachfront-retreat.html