Welcome!

On August 1st, I am starting a new position at the Institute of Ecological Economy Research (ioew.de) in Berlin, Germany. I work on the politics of climate change adaptation and mitigation at both local and national levels. Moreover, I continue some of my work on digitization and the smart city.

From 1st April 2016- 30th June 2019, I worked as Assistant Professor Environmental Governance at the Open University of the Netherlands. In November 2018, I hosted the international interdisciplinary conference ‘Making the smart city safe for citizens’ attended by 110 participants. All plenary presentations were recorded and can be watched here. I am currently editing a special issue with critical perspectives on the smart city. Moreover, I work with an international consortium on a grant application about how to implement social justice in the modelling of smart urban mobility services.

I was involved as co-author of the successful grant application for the international research project ‘Climate adaptation policy lock-ins: A 3 x 3 approach’  funded by NWO, DFG and ESRC under the Open Research Area funding scheme. The project started in July 2019 and will investigate which mechanisms of lock-in can explain inaction on climate change adaptation in the three countries, using a comparative approach.

Jointly with Pia Buschmann, I have explored the role of discursive carbon lock-ins in the German energy transition, explaining why coal is still so dominant (open access copy available here, summary in advanced science news here). In a recent book chapter, I critically discuss the potential of different forms of learning and participation in delivering transformational adaptation, drawing on the theoretical perspectives of Habermas, Foucault and Ranciere (for a book edited by Carina Keskitalo).

I have followed the international politics of climate change since 1995. I made my first presentation on climate change while still in school in 1988. I attended the first Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Berlin in 1995 as youth observer and contributor to a youth summit. I also have a long history of working with Michel Foucault’s governmentality concept. I was amongst the first to apply it to the international politics of climate change (Oels 2005). I have investigated the construction of climate change as a security issue and its policy implications (in my habilitation thesis). My empirical work in recent years has focused on the figure of the “climate refugee” and I have published a critique of the international discourses on climate change and migration (Methmann/Oels 2015). I have also co-authored a piece on climate justice and the 1,5 degree goal (see knowledge brief here, full paper here).

I have a long-standing research interest in citizen/stakeholder participation, power and theories of deliberative democracy. For my PhD, I studied the Future Search Conference as a tool for stakeholder dialogue in Local Agenda 21 processes, also using Habermas ‘ideal speech situation’. More recently, I have written about the limits of stakeholder dialogue and citizen participation as tools for learning and innovation in climate change adaptation.