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 School of Geography and the Environment

Dr Max Boykoff

Max Boykoff


Senior Visiting Research Associate



ECI Climate Research Theme


Until the summer of 2009, Maxwell T. Boykoff was a Research Fellow in the Environmental Change Institute as well as a Department Lecturer in the School of Geography and the Environment. From 2006-2008, Max was a James Martin 21st Century Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Through this fellowship, he was involved in both the Climate Change Research Cluster and the Environmental Governance and Climate Policy groups. He has also been affiliated with Christ Church College as a Postdoctoral Fellow and with the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment as an Associate Research Fellow.

Max is now an Assistant Professor in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he teaches in the Environmental Studies program.

Max has ongoing interests in climate adaptation, cultural politics and environmental governance, science-policy interactions, and political economy and the environment. He has experience working in North America, Central America, South Asia and Europe.

He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies (with a parenthetical notation in Sociology) from the University of California-Santa Cruz (2006) and Bachelor of Sciences from The Ohio State University (1995).

Max's research has been mentioned in a range of outlets such as Science, Nature, the Guardian, the New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Grist, Utne Reader, La Rázon (Spain), China Meteorological Administration, and (US) National Public Radio. In addition, research Max co-authored with Jules Boykoff (Pacific University) appeared in the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth. Max has also appeared on CNN International and France24 television.

Max was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Research Interests

Max Boykoff's research has concentrated on interactions between state and non-state actors at the interface of environmental science, policy and practice. He has been working in two primary research areas:

  1. issues in the cultural politics of climate change, and
  2. transformations of carbon-based economies and societies.

The first strand of work involves projects that A. analyze media coverage of climate change, B. explore how discourses influence workings in the new carbon economy and ongoing environmental policymaking, and C. interrogate the role of celebrity endeavors in environmental issues.

For example, his work on media representational practices and climate change has entailed interdisciplinary approaches to these questions at many scales (individual, local, regional, national, etc). He has explored how media representations shape/are shaped by socio-economic and geopolitical contexts, as well as how they influence public understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change. Research has sought to clarify contentions and improve connections between media, science, policy and civil society.

Max has authored or co-authored over a dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters for edited volumes on this theme. He is completing a monograph book (for Cambridge University Press) entitled Who Speaks for Climate? Making Sense of Mass Media Reporting on Climate Change.

In addition, Max Boykoff and Maria Mansfield (University of Oxford) have been tracking newspaper coverage of climate change or global warming in 50 newspapers across 20 countries and 6 continents. To view the latest graph see the 2004-2010 World Newspaper Coverage of Climate Change or Global Warming Figure (updated monthly). Country level profiles are now available there as well for the United States, United Kingdom, and India.

Related to this work, Max has delivered presentations in venues such as the Association of Japanese Environmental Journalists in Tokyo in August 2010, the G8+5 Environment Ministers meeting in Siracusa, Italy in April 2009, the 5th World Congress of Science Journalists in London, UK in July 20009, a side-event at the 2008 UN Conference of Parties meeting to the UNFCCC in Poland in December 2008, and a session (he chaired as well) on "Media and Climate Change" at the March 2009 Copenhagen Climate Congress, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The second strand of ongoing research is focused on aspects of carbon-based industry and society. This engagement has taken on many forms. Among them, Max is co-editing special issue for Antipode and book with Dr Emily Boyd (Leeds University) and Dr Peter Newell (University of East Anglia) exploring "What is "new" about the carbon economy?" (for 2011 publication). In 2009, Max co-edited a special issue of "Theorising the Carbon Economy" with Dr. Sam Randalls (University College London), Dr. Adam Bumpus (University of British Columbia), Prof. Diana Liverman (University of Arizona) in Environment and Planning A. Authors in these special issue mobilize a range of theoretical tools in order to understand, interpret and productively critique potentially novel and contemporary constellations of interests surrounding the "carbon economy".

Furthermore, Max co-authored a 2010 Global Environmental Change article with Dr David Frame (University of Oxford) and Dr Sam Randalls (University College London). This article interrogates the institutionalization of the discourse of "climate stabilization" over the last three decades. Taking a historical perspective, they argue that while this discourse has been valuable in making climate science legible and useful to governance in the past, it is now limiting wider considerations for alternative mitigation efforts, through premature foreclosure around fixed international policies.

These endeavors link to a larger project that Max has developed with Dr Emily Boyd (Leeds University) on climate adaptation strategies in urban environments. In this project they have focused on adaptation strategies associated with flood events in Mumbai, India. This project links with some of Max's past research that examined vulnerability and livelihood issues in relation to global climate change and extreme events in Honduras.

Weaving these interests together, Max worked on two edited books in recent years:

In 2008 Max co-edited a book entitled Contentious Geographies: Environmental Knowledge, Meaning and Scale (Ashgate) with Dr Michael K. Goodman (Lecturer in Geography, Kings College London) and Dr Kyle Evered (Assistant Professor of Geography, Michigan State University). Through varied critical approaches, case studies explored how conflicts over resources, livelihoods and the environment are (re)considered and (re)negotiated in efforts to affect environmental stewardship.

Second, he edited a volume called The Politics of Climate Change: A Survey (Routledge/Europa) (now in paperback). This volume gathered together scholars from many disciplines - such as Professor Maria Carmen Lemos (University of Michigan), Dr Heike Schroeder (Oxford University), Dr Chuks Okereke (Oxford University), and the late Professor Stephen Schneider (Stanford University) - to examine pivotal elements shaping attitudes, knowledge, and actions on climate change.

Recent Publications

Please see Max's staff webpage at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder.