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Mershon Center Speaker Series
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Brooke Ackerly
"Climate Change Justice and Responsibility: Theorizing From the Coast of Climate Change"
Friday, September 14, 2018, 03:30pm - 05:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Avenue, Room 120
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Brooke Ackerly

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Brooke Ackerly is professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and co-editor-in-chief of the International Feminist Journal of Politics (2018-2021). In her research, teaching, and collaborations, she works to clarify without simplifying the most pressing problems of global justice, including human rights and climate change. Using feminist methodologies, she integrates into her theoretical work empirical research on activism and the experiences of those affected by injustice (grounded normative theory).

Her books include Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism (Cambridge, 2000), Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference (Cambridge, 2008), Doing Feminist Research, with Jacqui True (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 2nd ed. forthcoming), and most recently, Just Responsibility: A Human Rights Theory of Global Justice (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Ackerly is currently working on the intersection of global economic, environmental, and gender justice in their material and epistemic dimensions. She teaches courses on justice, ethics and public policy, feminist theory, feminist research methods, human rights, contemporary political thought, and gender and the history of political thought. She is the winner of the Vanderbilt College of Arts and Science Graduate Teaching Award and the Margaret Cuninggim Mentoring Prize.

Ackerly is founder of the Global Feminisms Collaborative, a group of scholars and activists developing ways to collaborate on applied research for social justice. She advises academics and donors on evaluation, methodology, and the ethics of research. She serves the profession through committees in her professional associations including the American Political Science Association (APSA), International Studies Association (ISA), and the European Consortium on Politics and Gender (ECPG). She currently serves on the APSA Committee for the Status of Women in the Profession. She has been a member of the editorial board for Politics and Gender (Journal of the APSA, Women and Politics Section) and is currently a member of the editorial boards of Political Research Quarterly, Journal of Politics, and Politics, Gender and Identities.


The problem of global climate change governance is not just one of governing the commons or one of distributing environmental benefits and burdens, it is one of global governance. By global governance, I mean more than a problem of non-governmental private governance and international governmental institutions. Global governance recognizes that international institutions (legal and corporate), global foundations, corporations, and corporate compacts affects what states are able to do internally and that national and local politics affect what states are able to do internationally.

This is not a new idea, but it is a very important idea for climate change justice. In the fields of human rights, security and political economy, (across disciplines) feminists have been arguing that the connections across the local, national, regional, and international are all part of the global. In some circles the term “glocal” helps remind us of the role of the local in the global, but we don’t need jargon to make that point. We can observe it.

In this paper, with research in southwestern Bangladesh, I offer a grounded normative theory of climate change justice as a problem of global governance, which has surprising implications for taking responsibility for climate change globally.


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