Announcing the Center for Environmental Politics

Center for Environmental Politics team

The Department of Political Science is pleased to announce the launch of the Center for Environmental Politics, the first research center for environmental politics in the world located in a political science department. The founding Director of the Center is Aseem Prakash, Professor of Political Science and the Walker Family Professor for the College of Arts and Sciences.  The Center for Environmental Politics will be a leading producer of social science research on environmental politics and policy, from the local to the global level. The Center will bring together UW faculty experts from a wide variety of departments and programs to create opportunities for conversations and learning across disciplinary lines. Affiliates of the Center include not just political scientists but also professors from economics, geography, anthropology, philosophy, and the Jackson School of International Studies. Importantly, the Center will also host a Graduate Fellows program to train the next generation of environmental politics and policy scholars. Finally, the Center will host colloquia by leading scholars of environmental politics from all over the world.

Why focus on politics and governance in studying the natural environment? Although there has been significant progress in developing technical and scientific knowledge about the causes of environmental problems, the translation of these ideas into politically feasible policy ideas has proven a major challenge. Repeated failures to enact new environmental regulations reveal that environmental issues create political and institutional challenges as significant and difficult to solve as the more widely studied economic and technological challenges. The Center for Environmental Politics thus tries to develop essential insights into the under-explored political and institutional dimensions of environmental policy.

The Center was formally launched with a colloquium and reception on Friday, October 17. This year the Center is organizing an array of scholarly activities. These include the Duck Family Colloquium Series in Environmental Politics and Governance, which will host talks by a series of distinguished scholars presenting research on the global politics of climate change, the role of international institutions in environmental politics and governance, and the comparative politics of carbon taxation. The Center will also host the Richard B. Wesley Conference on Research Frontiers in Environmental Politics and Governance this spring. The conference will bring together a group of pioneering scholars of environmental politics who will present research and interact with our students and faculty. The shared information and networking at this event will undoubtedly have an important impact on future research on environmental politics. Finally, to foster scholarly development among graduate students, the Pacific Northwest Duck Family Graduate Student Workshop and Duck Family Graduate Fellowship program will support the research and professionalization of graduate students who study environmental politics and governance.

The activities of the Center for Environmental Politics have been made possible by generous gifts from Gary and Susan Duck, and Dick Wesley. Gary and Susan are UW alumni who have recently returned to campus to reconnect with faculty and students in Political Science.  They have generously supported the political science department’s students and scholarly activities over several years. Dick Wesley is a generous benefactor of the political science department as well as an active contributor to our intellectual activities through his frequent participation in colloquia and graduate classes.

More information about the Center for Environmental Political and its upcoming activities can be found at the Center’s website:  http://depts.washington.edu/envirpol/