Politics of the Environment

Environmental politics is a high priority in the Political Science Department and it draws on university-wide strengths in the environment, including the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Department of Geography.  Seven faculty members at UCSB are political scientists who specialize in environmental politics.  They form the core of an active community of professors and graduate students who work together to study issues of common interest.  Faculty studying environmental issues and graduate courses on those issues can be found in many departments across the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities.

Our work is rooted in the premise that while technological solutions to many environmental problems exist already, political and social solutions are still missing.  With that premise in mind, we are training graduate students to use sophisticated quantitiative methods to study problems at the nexus among public opinion, political behavior, and public policy.

Doctoral students in political science may qualify in Politics of the Environment as a PhD field by participating in a year-long workshop integrating the study of psychology, politics and policy, taking two or three elective seminars on environmental politics, and either sitting for a qualifying exam or preparing a field paper. 

For more information on Environmental Research at UCSB, see: Earth Gate: Whole Earth Science at UCSB 

Faculty in Political Science:

Collaborating Faculty:

Graduate Courses Offered

In the Political Science Department:

Comparative and International Environmental Politics (Mildenberger)
Interest Groups (Stokes)
International Climate Change Policies (Clemencon)
Politics of Environmental Policy (Smith)
Psychology, the Environment, and Public Policy (Han)

In the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management:

Environmental Persuasion (Potosky)
Environmental Institutions (Buntaine, MESM-level course)
Water Policy (Wilkinson)
Climate Change Agreements and Politics (Clemencon)
Environmental Politics and Policy (Anderson)
Environmental Policy Analysis (Anderson)
Survey Design and Environmental Public Opinion (Anderson)
Principles and Practice of Environmental Planning (Wack)
Corporate Environmental Management (Potoski)

Cross-Departmental Year-long Workshop:

Psychology of Environmental Politics and Policy (faculty in Political Science, Bren, Psychology)

The Environmental Politics Working Group:

A group of faculty and students from a number of departments who are interested in environmental issues meets regularly for informal discussions.  They discuss papers presented by faculty and graduate students, current environmental issues, and readings of general interest to the group.

* Environmental Politics Reading List


Recent Placements of Ph.D. Students in Environmental Politics & Policy

  • Tabitha Benney, Assistant Professor, University of Utah
  • Juliet Carlisle, Associate Professor, University of Idaho
  • Julia Ekstrom, Climate Adaptation Program Director, UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy
  • Jessica Feezell, Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico
  • Matthew Fienup, Executive Director of Center for Economic Research and Forecasting, California Lutheran University 
  • Heather Hodges, Postdoctoral Scholar, UCSB Bren School
  • Sara Hughes, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
  • Colin Kuehl, Assisant Professor, Northern Illinois University
  • Kristy Michaud, Professor, California State Northridge
  • Alisa Rod, Associate Director, Empirical Reasoning Lab, Barnard College, Columbia University
  • Jaime Sainz Santamaria, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico City ("Center for Research and Teaching in Economics"; CIDE)
  • Aaron Sparks, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Elon University
  • Priya Verma, Assistant Professor, California Polytechnic State University


Faculty Coordinator for the Politics of Environmental Policy Focus Area:

Professor Eric Smith:  smith@polsci.ucsb.edu; 805-893-6160