My research focuses on changing conceptions of global governance, particularly on issues of climate change and environmental policy. My work critiques the state as the primary unit of analysis of governance systems and argues that the role of non-state actors must be considered in any transformative vision of change. A marked increase in non-state actor participation in formal negotiation processes has the potential for the overall democratization of the international system. While this trend toward inclusion of diverse groups of actors can effectively shift power away from the state, increased non-state actor participation in international policy development is only available to a small subset of a movement’s actors due to numerous logistical and philosophical constraints. For climate change policy development, the actors who are granted increased access to policy negotiations must be representative of the entire environmental movement or be perceived as moral or technical leaders in the field, in order to have political “buy-in” to any policy developments. This sets up a sharp conflict around issues of inclusion and exclusion that have far reaching outcomes for policy effectiveness.
My research agenda focuses on analyzing how environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) are helping to shape climate governance at the local, national, and international levels. I am specifically interested in the interplay between civil society, international policy development, and domestic/local implementation of climate policies. Using network analysis, my dissertation research focused on the change in the network of relationships among ENGOs over the history of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). My current research has three parts that I plan to expand throughout my academic career: (1) analyzing the dyadic relationship between an ENGO’s structural network position (i.e. a measure of power, authority, influence, and legitimacy) and an organization’s depth of participation with formal international negotiations; (2) researching the ways in which the environmental civil society movement is reacting to the expansion of foci within climate policy (e.g. climate justice, community resilience, biodiversity) through an increase in connections with actors from other social movements, such as human rights organizations and humanitarian aid groups; and (3) exploring how ties between actors focused on different areas of governance (local, national, international) can help facilitate the multi-directional flow of information from the level of policy making to local communities.