Environmental Politics

Why study environmental politics and sustainable development at Purdue?

The Purdue Political Science department has a long history of providing successful graduate experiences in Environmental Politics and Policy.

The environmental politics group works on a range of domestic, global, and comparative environmental politics questions, including

  • Climate change politics and policies (domestic and international)
  • Sustainable development
  • Science and environmental policy-making
  • Renewable energy policies
  • Building resilience in social-ecological systems
  • Institutional design for governance of natural systems, including common pool resources
  • The political economy of the environment

Unique strengths of the program include: 

  1. Deeply interdisciplinary research, specializations, and training among faculty
  2. Significant personal mentoring for graduate students from their advisers
  3. An outstanding job placement record for graduates

Deeply Interdisciplinary Research

The Environmental Politics faculty are deeply interdisciplinary in their specializations, with experience and training in policy theories, economics, environmental science, engineering, and more. They are connected with numerous other campus departments and programs, and they are eager to help graduate students access their networks for interdisciplinary collaboration.

Environmental politics faculty and students participate actively in interdisciplinary environmental initiatives across Purdue, including the Building Sustainable Communities cluster hire, the Ecological Sciences and Engineering interdisciplinary graduate program, and multiple Discovery Park centers focused on sustainability challenges, such as the Purdue Center for the Environment and the Purdue Climate Change Research Center.


Diverse Faculty Expertise

Purdue’s department includes faculty members working on global, national, and local environmental politics challenges in an interdisciplinary setting.

Tara Grillos

Tara Grillos, Assistant Professor

Evaluation of sustainable development policies and programs. Impact of policy on human well-being, health, and equity. Effects of local governance arrangements on environmental behavior and collective action. Psychological and behavioral impacts of policies and decision processes. Social dimensions of market-based policies. Decentralization and participatory decision-making.


David Johnson

David Johnson, Assistant Professor

Decision-making under uncertainty, applied to climate change adaptation and environmental policy. Long-range planning for natural hazards risk management. Sustainable agriculture policies. Environmental risk communication and decision support tools. Multi-criteria tradeoff analysis.


Leigh Raymond

Leigh Raymond, Professor

Environmental political economy. Emissions trading / market-based policies. Carbon pricing. Environmental communication and framing. Canadian and U.S. climate policy. Subnational policy. Informal institutions.


Logan Strother

Logan Strother, Assistant Professor

Public opinion on environmental, disaster mitigation, and climate change mitigation policies. The policymaking process, applied to natural hazard and natural disaster mitigation policy.


Mark Tilton

Mark Tilton, Associate Professor

Comparative climate change and energy politics and policy. Japan specialist. Renewable energy politics.

David Yu

David Yu, Assistant Professor

Resilience of coupled human-natural systems (or social-ecological systems) and socio-technical systems in which some resources (natural or engineered) are shared by many and governed through collective choice. Resilience of such coupled systems to natural and technological hazards and in the face of social dilemmas and collective action problems. Human behavior, institutions (rules & norms), and shared resources (common-pool resources and public goods). Systems modeling (dynamic and agent-based), human-subject behavioral experiments, and institutional analysis. 

Specialization Coursework

More than half of Purdue Political Science Ph.D graduates earn the certificate in Ecological Sciences and Engineering, strengthening their interdisciplinary training and expanding their problem-solving capabilities.

Additional specialization coursework includes an undergraduate minor in environmental policy and an undergraduate certificate in environmental and sustainability studies.


Significant Personal Mentoring

Our students receive significant personal mentoring from their advisers, leading to many research opportunities and co-authored papers for graduate students. Most faculty advise only a small number of Ph.D. students, creating more one-on-one research and teaching relationships.


Student involvement in research projects includes interviewing, participant observation, and running experiments. Students have participated at international negotiations, such as the Paris COP and the International Conference on Biodiversity, interviewed small private landowners in Indiana and elsewhere about endangered species regulations, run field experiments to test framing effects on interest in conservation tillage, and performed content analysis and interviewing to evaluate political effects of frames on climate change policy in the U.S., Canada, and France. Many of these projects result in co-authored publications and generate important student thesis opportunities.

Recent Publications

A selection of recent publications includes:

Andrews, A.C., R.A. Clawson, B.M. Gramig, and L. Raymond. 2017. "Finding the Right Value: Framing Effects on Domain Experts." Political Psychology 38 (2): 261-278. doi: 10.1111/pops.12339

Cann, H.W., and L. Raymond. 2018. "Does Climate Denialism Still Matter? The Prevalence of Alternative Frames in Opposition to Climate Policy." Environmental Politics 27 (3): 433-45. doi: 10.1080/09644016.2018.1439353

Milkoreit, M. and K. Haapala. 2017. “Designing the Global Stocktake: A Global Governance Innovation.” Policy Brief. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). Retrieved from Center for Climate and Energy Solutions website: https://www.c2es.org/site/assets/uploads/2017/11/designing-the-global-stocktake-a-global-governance-innovation.pdf

Milkoreit, M. and K. Haapala. 2018. "The Global Stocktake: Design Lessons for a New Review and Ambition Mechanism in the International Climate Regime, International Environmental Agreements." Politics, Law and Economics 19 (1): 89-106. doi: 10.1007/s10784-018-9425-x

Raymond, L., and A.B. Delshad. 2016. "Normative Framing and Public Attitudes Toward Biofuels Policies." Environmental Communication 10 (4): 508-24. doi: 10.1080/17524032.2015.1094104

Wiest, S., L. Raymond, and R.A. Clawson. 2015. "Framing, Partisan Pre-dispositions, and Public Opinion on Climate Change." Global Environmental Change 31: 187-98. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2014.12.006

Excellent Funding Opportunities

Incoming Ph.D students typically receive 5 years guaranteed funding at an increased stipend, contingent on satisfactory progress. A majority of environmental politics Ph.D. students have one or more years of dedicated research funding during their time at Purdue.

Environmental politics students and faculty have a strong track record of funding research through internal Purdue research grants and grants from federal research programs, such as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Geological Survey.


Outstanding Placement Record

The department’s graduate students working on environmental politics benefit from an excellent record of job placement, reflecting the growing demand for faculty who can teach and do interdisciplinary research in this area. The department has placed all of its environmental politics Ph.D. graduates since 2004 in either tenure track positions, desirable short-term visiting professor positions, or permanent non-academic (science-policy interface) positions as desired, in their first year on the job market.

Recent graduates and their placements include:

Kate Happala
Kate Haapala
2019 Ph.D. (expected)
Fisheries Analyst
North Pacific Fishery Management Council

Heather Cann
Dr. Heather Cann
2019 Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies
Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA

Ashlie Delshad
Dr. Ashlie Delshad
2011 Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Chester University, Pennsylvania
photo credit: Ashlie Delshad

Andrea Olive
Dr. Andrea Olive
2009 Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political
Science and Geography & Chair, Department of Geography
University of Toronto, Mississauga
photo credit: Andrea Olive


Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

© 2021 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by CLA

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact the College of Liberal Arts Webmaster.

Some content on this site may require the use of a special plug-in or application. Please visit our plug-ins page for links to download these applications.