Aarti Gupta is Lead Faculty of the Earth System Governance Project, and an Associate Professor in the Environmental Policy Group of the Department of Social Sciences, at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Aarti’s research area is global environmental politics and policy, with a particular focus on:

  • Anticipatory governance of novel environmental and technological risk, and the contested role of scientific knowledge and expertise therein
  • The continuing relevance of multilateralism and state-based governance: with an empirical focus on climate change, forests and biosafety 
  • The prospects for transparency to be a transformative force in global environmental politics; links between transparency and accountability in (global) environmental politics

Education and research trajectory

Aarti holds a PhD in Environmental Studies from Yale University, and a Masters in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Prior to coming to Wageningen, she was a Research Fellow for two years at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where she participated in the Global Environmental Assessment Project, and focused on the role of science and expertise in global biosafety governance. She has also been a post-doctoral scholar at Columbia University’s Center for Science, Policy and Outcomes, based in Washington DC, where she participated in a Rockefeller-funded project on technological divides and anticipatory risk governance in a North-South context.

Aarti’s research trajectory has evolved from a strong disciplinary grounding in political science and international relations to a growing interest in interdisciplinary (within the social sciences) analyses of environmental and sustainability issues. Her research interests currently center on the politics of global environmental and sustainability governance; with a focus on inter-state environmental negotiations; the (contested) normative bases underpinning global environmental and anticipatory risk governance; as well as the role of science, knowledge and expertise in multilevel environmental governance.

Her empirical focus has been on the issue-areas of biotechnology, biodiversity, forests and climate governance. Theoretically, she has sought to combine insights from constructivist international relations theories with international law, and science and technology studies (STS). Her most recent focus has been on the contested politics of transparency and accountability in environmental governance, with an edited volume on Transparency in Global Environmental Governance: Critical Perspectives, published by MIT Press (2014).

She has supplemented this academic journey with working extensively outside of academia as well. This includes, for example, working as global policy officer at the United Nations Development Programme, and the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, both in New York, USA; as well as with foundations and bilateral aid agencies (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, GIZ- Germany); and with international non-governmental organizations (Oxfam-Novib in the Hague, Netherlands; Transparency International in Berlin, Germany). She has also been a writer for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and in this capacity attended numerous international environmental negotiations on biodiversity, food security, genetic resources, and forests from 1994 – 2000.

Grants and awards 

Aarti is the recipient of multiple graduate, pre-doctoral and post-doctoral grants and awards, including:

  • Individual Research and Writing Grant, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2003-2005)
  • Joseph L. Fisher Dissertation Fellowship, Resources for the Future (2000–2001)
  • Teresa Heinz Scholar for Environmental Research, Heinz Family Foundation (2000–2001)
  • Dissertation Fellowship (twice), Institute for the Study of World Politics (1998–2000)
  • Henry Hart Rice Fellowship, Yale Centre for International and Area Studies (2000–2001)
  • G. Evelyn Hutchinson Fellowship, Yale Institute of Biosphere Studies (1996) 
  • Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Scholarship (1995–1999)
  • Dean Scholarship, Division of Social Sciences, University of Chicago (1991-1994)
  • Milton Sachs Prize for Research in Politics, Brandeis University (1991)
  • Phi Beta Kappa, elected member in US nationwide honours society (1991)

International networks and functions

Journal editorships and board memberships:

  • Associate editor, Global Environmental Politics (2012- present)
  • Editorial board member, International Environmental Agreements (2015 – present)
  • Editorial board member Global Environmental Politics (2008-2012) 

Vice-Chair, Management Committee, EU-FP7 European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action IS0802 Transformations in Global Environmental Governance, research network of 19 European countries, coordinated by the VU-Amsterdam (2008 – 2012).

National and university networks and functions

Founder and co-coordinator, Wageningen University–wide REDD@WUR network: coordinating REDD+ seed project activities, including network-building, joint publications, and fund-raising

Co-coordinator, Netherlands Research School for Socioeconomic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE) Cluster X on Environmental Governance


Aarti teaches introductory and advanced courses in International Environmental Politics and Diplomacy. She has also taught courses in Environmental Policy: Analysis and Evaluation and Bachelors Thesis preparation.

She is the recipient of 6 Wageningen University Excellence in Education Awards over the last 7 years (three for excellence in lecturing; and three for her course being among the top 25 at the University in a given year). In 2010, she was listed 2nd on the list of 25 top lecturers at Wageningen University.

She is currently supervising 4 PhD students, and various MSc thesis students in the areas of global environmental politics, forest and climate governance, and the science-politics interface.

She is also involved in various teaching management tasks at the University, including:

  • Member, Educational Programme Committee, Design and accreditation of newly launching Social Science Research Master at Wageningen University (ongoing)
  • Tutor, Bachelors Honors Programme (ongoing)
  • Member, Educational Programme Committee, Bachelors and Masters in Environmental Sciences and Urban Environmental Management (2013 – 2015) 


Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen University webpage

Wageningen University REDD@WUR website 

Contact: aarti.gupta [at] wur.nl