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Professor Harriet Bulkeley

Deputy Executive Dean, Research

Deputy Executive Dean, Research in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health
Professor in the Department of Geography+44 (0) 191 33 41940
Senior Fellow in the Global Policy Institute Journal


Harriet’s work is concerned with the politics and governance of environmental issues. She has a particular interest in climate change and the roles of cities and other non-state actors in responding to this global challenge. In her work on urban sustainability, Harriet has focused on questions of energy, smart grids, infrastructure, housing, mobility, waste and most recently nature and biodiversity. Throughout her work, questions of social and environmental justice are to the fore.

Harriet is currently Project Co-ordinator for the H2020 Smart Cities and Communities programme NATURVATION project (2016 – 2020). Involving a team of 80 researchers from 14 institutions in six European countries, the project seeks to understand the role that nature-based solutions can play in responding to urban sustainability challenges. Through this project Harriet is exploring how and why urban nature has come to matter for the governing of environmental challenges, the ways in which urban experimentation with nature is taking place, what it means to mainstream nature in the city, and how such interventions can lead to transformative change for urban futures.

With the REINVENT project, Harriet is examining the potential and challenges of deep decarbonisation in the ‘hard to reach’ parts of the carbon economy – meat, milk, plastics, paper and steel. Here Harriet’s research has contributed to developing an understanding of what the politics of decarbonisation entail and specifically exploring the role of the finance sector in low carbon transitions.

Harriet’s previous research has involved an extensive analysis of the role of cities in low carbon transitions, supported in particular by an ESRC Climate Change Leadership Fellowship (2007 – 2012), an ESRC International Networking Grant (INCUT), and the JPI Urban Governing Urban Sustainability Transitions project (2014 – 2017). Her most recent books in this field include An Urban Politics of Climate Change and edited collections Urban Living Labs: Experimenting with City Futures and Rethinking Urban Transitions: Politics in the Low Carbon City. Harriet’s research has also examined the dynamics of low carbon transitions within electricity systems, and she was one of the lead investigators for the Customer Led Network Revolution project led by Northern Powergrid and for the INCLUESEV research network on social justice and energy transitions.

Her work on climate change has involved an explicit focus on the role of non-state actors and alternative sites and modes of governance. Her recent book Accomplishing Climate Governance makes the case for the significance of how we conceptualise power, authority and governance in shaping the ways in which we respond to global environmental challenges. Through her role in leading the Leverhulme International Network on Transnational Climate Change Governance, Harriet led the production of the first book on this subject and has developed a series of edited collections that focus bringing new conceptual perspectives to bear on the climate challenge, including A Cultural Politics of Climate Change (with Paterson & Stripple) and Governing the Climate (with Stripple).

Harriet has undertaken commissioned research for the UK Government, European Commission, NGOs, UN-Habitat, the World Bank and the OECD. In 2018 was granted to the Back Award by the Royal Geographical Society in recognition of the policy impact of her work on climate change. In 2014, Harriet was awarded the King Carl XVI Gustaf’s Professorship in Environmental Science and a Visiting Professorship at Lund University, Sweden, and in 2016 and 2017 was included as one of 180 social scientists in the international Clarivate Analytics/Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers. She currently holds a part-time appointment at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University alongside her part-time role at Durham University.

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