Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Martina Angela Caretta

Committee Member

Cynthia Gorman

Committee Member

Nicolas Zegre


LGBTQ+ persons face heightened vulnerability to climate change-induced disasters due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Yet, there are limited studies that examine how LGBTQ+ students, particularly in a higher-education setting, understand climate change in relation to their sexuality. With a majority of studies on LGBTQ+ persons and climate change focusing on LGBTQ+ experience during and after disaster, there is a gap in understanding LGBTQ+ perceptions of climate change in the day-to-day. Particularly in Appalachia, a region characterized by a strong place-attachment to and a collective identity with the natural environment, studies of marginalized groups’ perceptions of climate change are lacking.

This thesis utilizes a case study of LGBTQ+ undergraduate college students at large, public institutions in Appalachia. Based on semi-structured interviews and focus groups, this thesis investigates the ways in which sexual and place-based identity influence LGBTQ+ undergraduate understandings of the environment and climate change. This thesis has broad implications for studies of climate change across the sub-disciplines of feminist, queer, and emotional geography. As there are limited studies on climate change perceptions at the higher education level, and almost no studies in Appalachia specifically, this thesis explores the intersections of identity, emotions, and perceptions.