Professor Richard Black

Professor Richard Black

College of Social Sciences
Head of the College of Social Sciences

Contact details

College of Social Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Richard is Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Sciences.  An academic geographer and Professor of International Development, he is member of the Council of the Academy of Social Sciences, of which he has been Fellow since 2012.


PhD in Geography, University of London, 1990
BA in Geography, University of Oxford, 1986


Professor Richard Black is Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Sciences. He joined the University of Birmingham in April 2018.  In addition to leading the College, Richard is Executive Board champion for mental health and disability, and Executive Board lead for the University of Birmingham School.

Richard was previously Pro-Director (Research & Enterprise) at SOAS University of London from 2013-18, and founding Head of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex from 2009. He received his PhD in 1990, and worked as a Lecturer at King’s College London from 1989 before moving to Sussex in 1995. 


Research interests

Richard’s research interests lie in the relationship between migration and mobility, poverty and climate change. He is particularly interested in when, how and why migration becomes a route out of poverty, or a way of building resilience to climate change, rather than exacerbating vulnerability and insecurity. His work has drawn on empirical evidence from sites across Africa and southern Europe, and also latterly from India, China and Bangladesh. It stresses the key role played by institutions in facilitating or obstructing potential benefits from migration, and the importance of understanding migration, displacement, and ‘trapped’ populations in local and historical context.

Over the past 30 years, Richard has published over fifty journal articles and nine books and edited collections on a wide range of topics based on field research across various sites in Africa, Asia and Europe. In 2011, he was lead author of a “Foresight” report for the Government Office for Science on “Migration and Global Environmental Change”. He has acted as a consultant for numerous UN and international agencies, including UNHCR, the World Bank, the European Commission and the OECD.

Current projects

Richard has recently completed a major project on the impact of development interventions on migration decision-making in West Africa funded by FCDO in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration. The work was conducted with partners in Guinea, Senegal, The Gambia, France, Switzerland and Italy.  

Other activities

  • Trustee and Council Member, Academy of Social Sciences
  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers
  • Governor, University of Birmingham School
  • REF 2014: Member of sub-panel 17, Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies
  • Director of two major DFID research programmes on migration, globalisation and poverty, spanning Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (2003-13)
  • Visiting Professor, Institut de Géographie, Université de Neuchâtel funded by Swiss National Science Foundation, 2011
  • Co-Editor of Journal of Refugee Studies, OUP (1994-2009)


Recent publications


Black, R, Bellagamba, A, Botta, E, Ceesay, E, Cissokho, D, Engeler, M, Lenoel, A, Oelgemoller, C, Riccio, B, Sakho, P, Wotem Sompare, A, Vitturini, E & Zingari, G 2022, 'Migration drivers and migration choice: interrogating responses to migration and development interventions in West Africa', Comparative Migration Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, 10.

Black, R, Maple, N & Reardon-Smith, S 2020, 'Immobility and the containment of solutions: Reflections on the Global Compacts, Mixed Migration and the Transformation of Protection', Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.

Banerjee, S, Black, R, Mishra, A & Kniveton, D 2018, 'Assessing vulnerability of remittance-recipient and non-recipient households in rural communities affected by extreme weather events: Case studies from South-West China and North-East India', Population Space and Place.

Martin, M, Kang, YH, Billah, M, Siddiqui, T, Black, R & Kniveton, D 2017, 'Climate-influenced migration in Bangladesh: the need for a policy realignment', Development Policy Review, vol. 35, no. S2, pp. O357-O379.

Adger, WN, Arnell, NW, Black, R, Dercon, S, Geddes, A & Thomas, DG 2015, 'Focus on environmental risks and migration: causes and consequences', Environmental Research Letters, vol. 10, no. 060201. <>

Martin, M, Billah, M, Siddiqui, T, Abrar, C, Black, R & Kniveton, D 2014, 'Climate related migration in rural Bangladesh: a behavioural model', Population and Environment, vol. 36, pp. 85-110.

Gonzalez-Ferrer, A, Baizan, P, Beauchemin, C, Kraus, E, Schoumaker, B & Black, R 2014, 'Distance, transnational arrangements, and return decisions of Senegalese, Ghanaian, and Congolese migrants', International Migration Review, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 939-971.

Caux, RD, Smith, C, Kniveton, D, Black, R & Philippides, A 2014, 'Dynamic, small-world social network generation through local agent interactions', Complexity, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 44-53.

Black, R & Collyer, M 2014, 'Populations 'trapped' at times of crisis', Forced Migration Review, no. 45, pp. 52-56. <>

Black, R, Arnell, NW, Adger, WN, Thomas, D & Geddes, A 2013, 'Migration, immobility and displacement outcomes of extreme events in nature and society', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. S32-S43. <>


Ferrer, AG, Kraus, E, Baizán, P, Beauchemin, C, Black, R & Schoumaker, B 2018, Migration between Africa and Europe: Assessing the role of resources, family and networks. A comparative approach. in Migration between Africa and Europe. Springer Vieweg. <>

Quartey, P, Castgnone, E, Nazio, T, Schoumaker, B, Rakotonarivo, N & Black, R 2017, Ghanaian migration: economic participation. in C Beauchemin (ed.), Migration between Africa and Europe. Springer Vieweg. <>


Boas, I, Farbotko, C, Adams, H, Sterly, H, Bush, S, van der Geest, K, Wiegel, H, Ashraf, H, Baldwin, A, Bettini, G, Blondin, S, de Bruijn, M, Durand-Delacre, D, Fröhlich, C, Gioli, G, Guaita, L, Hut, E, Jarawura, FX, Lamers, M, Lietaer, S, Nash, SL, Piguet, E, Rothe, D, Sakdapolrak, P, Smith, L, Tripathy Furlong, B, Turhan, E, Warner, J, Zickgraf, C, Black, R & Hulme, M 2019, 'Climate migration myths', Nature Climate Change, vol. 9, no. 12, pp. 901-903.

Other contribution

Black, R (ed.), Arnell, N & Adger, N (ed.) 2013, Global Environmental Change, extreme environmental events and 'environmental migration': exploring the connections. Elsevier Masson. <>

Working paper

Banerjee, S, Kniveton, D, Black, R, Bisht, S, Das, PJ, Mahapatra, B & Tuladhar, S 2017 'Do Financial Remittancces Build Household-Level Adaptive Capacity? A Case Study of Flood-Affected Households in India' KNOMAD. <>

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