11 April 2024

Michele Betsill receives ISA award for her pioneering environmental policy research


For her contributions as a scholar, teacher and mentor in the field of environmental politics, professor Michele Betsill was named a Distinguished Scholar at this year's International Studies Association conference in San Francisco.

Portrait of Michele Betsill

Over the course of her career, Michele Betsill has made several important contributions to international relations research– particularly to the field of global environmental politics.

"She has been an intellectual leader in the field, pioneering work in the 2000s on both cities and climate change and on non-state governance. She broadened this out by taking a central role in laying the foundation of the Earth System Governance project in cooperation with Frank Biermann," explains Ronald Mitchell, professor at the University of Oregon and leader of the group that nominated Michele Betsill for the award.

As another example of Michele Betsill's innovative research, he mentions the new, large-scale research programme "Ocean Philanthropy Research Initiative" at the Department of Political Science, which Michele Betsill is co-leading with professor Rebecca Gruby (University of Miami). The aim of the programme is to explore the opportunities and challenges of philanthropic engagement in ocean conservation globally.

"Michele Betsill has contributed deep and nuanced insights on the politics of global environmental governance and made significant contributions to international relations, transnational relations, and global governance. Equally important to the development of the field, she has supported and mentored numerous early career scholars through co-authorship, structuring of the field, and writing grants to help fund her own research and that of her students," highlights Ronald Mitchell.

Has delivered on all accounts

Michele Betsill, professor in the Department of Political Science, is honoured to receive the award, which was presented at the ISA conference in San Francisco on 4 April.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by a community of scholars that has played such an important role in my career. I have benefitted both personally and professionally from their inspiration and validation of my work over the years. I am especially grateful to have had the opportunity to work with many early career researchers who remind me of the importance of attending to our whole selves in this profession,” she says.

Nina Græger, professor and head of the Department of Political Science, is very pleased on Michele Betsill's behalf.

“Michele fully deserves this prestigious award for her long-term commitment to and innovative contribution to the study of environmental politics. Her pioneering work and mentorship have inspired other scholars and structured the field for more than two decades and is widely cited. We hired Michele in 2021 to boost our research, funding, teaching and impact within climate and environmental politics, and she has delivered on all accounts,” says Nina Græger and elaborates:

“Michele has brought research excellence, innovation and international perspectives to the classroom and to the department’s research group on green politics, and actively engages with colleagues across as well as beyond the UCPH. I look forward to following her career in a field that in the years ahead is in need of research based expertise and political attention, in Denmark and beyond.”

Two awards in six months

In autumn 2023, Michele Betsill received the Elinor Ostrom Career Achievement Award from the American Political Science Association's Section on Science, Technology and Environmental Policy.

"Betsill’s seminal contributions on cities and climate change provided the foundation for a wholly new field of research, opening up a novel and sophisticate way of understanding that climate politics is simultaneously both a local and global phenomenon," the nomination text highlights.

"Equally significant has been her leadership in pushing the field to understand the role of non-governmental organizations and the transnational dynamics of global environmental politics. Here, her work has shed new light on how we conceptualize ‘agency’ within global environmental politics," the text continues.


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