Professor in Politics
Click here to view John's video
Blog: "Fiddling (taxes and subsidies) while the planet burns and people freeze: the debate about green energy levies"
QUB Research Portal (Pure)
Politics and policy of sustainable development, climate change and low carbon energy transitions, environmental politics and environmental movements, green moral and political theory, environmental ethics, political economy and the environment, contemporary social and political theory, interdisciplinary research and applied political research, Northern Ireland and Irish politics.
My main interest is in the relationship between moral/political theory and the environment, the political economy of unsustainability and the transition from unsustainability, with particular focus on critical analyses of neoclassical economics, heterodox political economy, post-growth and degrowth political economy, ecofeminism, the implications of green theory for thinking about justice, citizenship and democracy. A subsidiary interest is in the relationship between science, technology and the environment - particularly socio-technological transitions and transformations in relation to renewable and low carbon energy. I also have an interest in Q Methodology as a research approach to the study of complex moral/political issues such as citizenship, sustainability and national identity. A more recent interest is in the political theoretical analysis of loyalism in Northern Ireland.
Current Research Projects
‘Catalysing and Characterising Transitions’ (funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency):
The shift to a low-carbon economy is not about achieving a definable end state, but a process of redirecting a wide range of factors (markets, infrastructure, governance, individual behaviour) towards a more sustainable configuration. Such a process cannot be guided by a blueprint, as the extended timescales of such shifts mean that it will have to cope with uncertainties, ambivalent goals, political myopia and a danger of lock in, amongst other factors. This 18 month long desk-based research project represents an attempt to understand how transition can be most effectively understood and operationalised in the context of Ireland’s institutions and technological profile.
Website address: http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/TheInstituteofSpatialandEnvironmentalPlanning/Impact/CurrentResearchProjects/CCTransitions/ProjectDescription/
Beyond Economic Growth: The Political, Ethical and Cultural Dimensions of a Post-Growth Green Economy
The aim of this research project is to investigate the conceptual, normative, and empirical dimensions of green/sustainability critiques of orthodox economic growth; make the argument for the limits and downsides of this objective for the macro-economy (from ecological, energy, climate, inequality, and human-flourishing perspectives);and explore some of the principles, policies, and potentials of a “post-growth” economic alternative. The project is made up of three parts:
Part 1: Green Political Economy Critiques of Economic Growth
The question pursued in this first part of the project is to trace the conceptual origins of how orthodox, undifferentiated economic growth as a permanent feature of the economy became a central imperative and objective of both mainstream economic and political thinking. It also seeks to outline some of the historical origins and main empirical and normative arguments of those critical of orthodox, undifferentiated economic growth.
Part 2: Normative and Empirical Principles of a Post -Growth Economy
The second part of the project goes into more detail about some shared principles of a viable and normatively attractive synthetic account of green political economy drawn from the analyses in Part I. Specifically, it seeks to identify and critically assess some of the main normative and empirical principles of a post-growth political economy.
Part 3: Economic Growth as Ideology
This part of the project aims to empirically examine the “ideological” character and function of economic growth. This relates in part to the “common sense” (popular, as well as policy -elite) acceptance of and support for economic growth as a necessary and desirable objective—that is, the widespread cultural acceptance of and indeed normalisation of orthodox economic growth, to the extent that the self-evident benefits of, and imperative for it are so widely assumed that they are hardly ever debated, questioned, or compared against alternatives
Heterodox and green political economy, green ethical and political theory, the politics and policy of sustainable development, climate change politics, environmental ethics, green political economy and the greening of the economy, normative dimensions of sustainable development, environmental justice, citizenship, democracy and sustainable development, interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable development, republicanism and green politics, vulnerability, resilience and sustainability, social theory and the environment, climate change, decarbonisation and the transition to a low-carbon energy economy
(2015) ‘Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development’, co-author with Therese Hume. In International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences: 2nd Edition. 2 ed. Oxford: Elsevier. Available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978008097086891081X
(2014) ‘Changing the Intellectual Climate’, co-author, in Nature Climate Change. 4, 9, p. 763-768. Available here - http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n9/full/nclimate2339.html
(2014) ‘Green Political Theory’, In Political Ideologies: An Introduction, 4th ed., edited by Vincent Geoghegan and Rick Wilford, 153–178. London: Routledge. Details here: https://www.routledge.com/products/9780415618175
(2013) ‘Climate Change Ethics, Rights, and Policies’, Special Issue, Environmental Politics 22, no. 3 (co-edited with Arthur Mol and Anothony Zito). Available here - http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09644016.2013.788861#.Va9Zu_lcpc8
(2013) Environmental Philosophy: The Art of Life in a World of Limits. Bingley: Emerald Publishing, (co-edited with Liam Leonard, Marius de Geus, Peter Doran, and Graham Parkes). Details here: http://books.emeraldinsight.com/display.asp?K=9781783501366
(2012) The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability: Human Flourishing in a Climate-Changed, Carbon-Constrained World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Details here: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695393.001.0001/acprof-9780199695393