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A Brief Program History

The Global Environmental Politics Program in the School of International Service is one of the oldest programs of its kind, dating to the mid-1990s, a time when environmental politics were reaching a new level of importance nationally and internationally. Today, at a moment when other environmental studies graduate programs are just beginning to internationalize, our program sits squarely within an international relations school that is the largest in the United States.

The program began with a small faculty consisting of Paul Wapner, Judith Shapiro, and Simon Nicholson together with affiliated faculty in Environmental Studies, the Washington College of Law, and other programs. Since then we have increased our faculty size steadily; Sikina Jinnah joined in 2009; our program director Ken Conca joined in 2010; and T. Garrett Graddy began in 2011. In Fall 2013, the program will grow yet again with the addition of Malini Ranganathan. This group of core faculty is complemented by more than a dozen other adjunct or associated faculty. The program is arguably one of the strongest in the world, with diverse focuses including water governance, food/agriculture, climate change politics, peri-urban development challenges, global civil society and the People’s Republic of China. Faculty are known for their attention not only to the traditional areas of GEP concern such as global governance and institutions but also to environmental justice, ethics, global civil society and post-disaster reconstruction. GEP and NRSD alumni have gone far and wide after graduation and, in many cases, are now moving into mid-level and senior positions in numerous organizations across the spectrum that is global environmental politics.

In 2011, the School of International Service and the Global Environmental Politics program moved into our new LEED Gold-certified green building, a cutting-edge piece of architecture designed by Cradle to Cradle author William McDonough; that same year, a new dean, James Goldgeier, arrived at the school bringing new urgency and energy to the study of international affairs. Today, the school and the GEP program, with its growing faculty, stand at the forefront of scholarship and debate on a wide array of local, national and international concerns, the environment chief among them.