Critical Studies in Environmental Governance

Lucerne, Switzerland, 28-29 January 2022



The ‘Anthropocene’ refers to a new geological epoch in which humankind has an unprecedented influence on the functioning of the Earth. The extent of this influence is such that human activity discernibly changes and destabilizes biogeochemical processes (e.g., climate, hydrology, biodiversity) upon which we depend. Hence, the Anthropocene implies a fundamental change in socio-ecological relations. This epochal change invites critical reflection on central mechanisms for regulating socioecological relations, given existing conceptions and practices of governance appear incapable of integrating planetary boundaries into socioecological metabolism in a way consistent with sustainability. In this two-day workshop, we would like to explore this environmental governance challenge through the lens of accountability. In particular, the goal of the workshop is to develop a better understanding of the analytical and practical value of accountability in relation to anthropogenic drivers of global environmental change.



To advance the debate on accountability in the Anthropocene, the workshop brings together leading researchers from abroad with researchers from Switzerland. In this way, the workshop creates new synergies on the topic, which are enhanced by the interdisciplinary exchange. Workshop participants identify with disciplines of sociology, economics, political science, management and anthropology.

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Here we will report on publications, workshops and other events relevant to the topic of "Accountability in the Anthropocene".


Volume 185 of Ecological Economics (July 2021) will contain an article by Siddharth Sareen and Steven Wolf. In a context of sustainability transitions as premised on shifts in accountability relations the autors analyze a purported case of sustainability transitions – solar energy in Portugal during the period 2017–2020. 


On March 12, 2021, Hao (Hope) Zhuang (Cornell University), Joshua Macey (University of Chicago) and Steven Wolf (Cornell) organize a workshop on Private Enforcement & Environmental Law: Civil Society Organizations, Public Interests, and Accountability. The event aims to synthesize experiences in US and China.



The workshop will take place at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland.



If you are interested in our workshop, please get in touch with us.


The workshop is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Research Committee of the University of Lucerne.