Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Daniel Gardner

Committee Members

Harriet Goodman

Daniel Herman

Subject Categories

Social Work


climate change, United States Virgin Islands, Caribbean, solastalgia, ecological grief, eco anxiety


Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity in the 21st century. This study investigated people’s observations of climate change in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). A qualitative study was used with a Grounded Theory approach to better understand how people witnessed climate change events, what people’s emotional responses were, and what calls for action they had to respond to climate change in the USVI. The study had two parallel arms: five focus groups (n=17) with residents of the USVI and key informant interviews with community leaders (n=10). Participants witnessed a wide array of climate change events including hurricanes, drought, and coastal erosion. Many participants experienced negative emotional responses to the environmental degradation caused by climate change in the USVI. These emotional responses were similar to what other studies have termed ecological grief and eco anxiety. While all participants experienced climate change in some way, age and duration of exposure to climate change events, gender, occupation, socioeconomic status, and recreational use of the environment seemed related to differences in how people experienced climate change. This study makes important contributions to the field as this area is understudied and undertheorized. Most importantly perhaps is to add the experiences of people in the USVI to the existing literature.

Included in

Social Work Commons