James Patterson is a social science researcher focusing on institutional innovation and change in environmental governance. His research is oriented by the question: “how and why do institutions change, and with what effects?”. His main research project is called “INNOVCITIES” (Institutional Innovation for Adapting to Climate Change in Water Governance in Cities) which he has been leading since 2015. The first 2-year phase of this project was funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Individual Fellowship (European Commission), and the second 2-year phase is funded by The Netherlands Open University. This work involves large-N and small-N comparative analysis of cities across the globe. In addition, he has collaborated on the topic of sustainability transformations with scholars from the ESG network and beyond.

Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Waterloo, Canada, did his PhD research at the University of Queensland, Australia, and was a Research Consultant in urban water policy and planning at the University of Technology, Sydney.

He has an interdisciplinary background spanning social and natural sciences. He is interested in a range of qualitative and quantitative social science methods (e.g. interviews, surveys, case studies, document analysis) and inter/trans-disciplinary research. He particularly enjoys collaborating with scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds through projects, publications, working groups, and networks.

Selected publications:   

  • Patterson, J.J., Thaler, T., Hoffmann, M., Hughes, S., Oels, A., Chu, E., Mert, A., Huitema, D., Burch, S., Jordan, A. (2018) Political feasibility of 1.5°C societal transformations: the role of social justice. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 31:1–9 [Open Access]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.11.002
  • de Loë, R., Patterson, J.J. (2017) Boundary judgments in water governance: diagnosing internal and external factors that matter in a complex world. Water Resources Management. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-017-1827-y
  • Beunen, R., Patterson, J.J., van Assche, K. (2017) Governing for resilience: the role of institutional work. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (Special Issue on learning and innovation in resilient governance systems). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.04.010
  • Bowen, K.J., Cradock-Henry, N.A., Koch, F., Patterson, J., Häyhä, T., Vogt, J., Barbi, F. (2017) Key governance challenges in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: Collective action, trade-offs, and accountability. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 27-28:90-96 (Special Issue on the Sustainable Development Goals). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.05.002
  • Beunen, R., and Patterson, J.J. (2016) Institutional change in environmental governance: exploring the concept of “institutional work”. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. https://doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2016.1257423 [Open Access].
  • Patterson, J.J. (2017) Purposeful collective action in ambiguous and contested situations: exploring enabling capacities and cross-level interplay. International Journal of the Commons. 11(1):248-274. http://doi.org/10.18352/ijc.696 [Open Access].
  • Patterson, J., Schulz, K., Vervoort, J., van der Hel, S., Widerberg, O., Adler, C., Hurlbert, Anderton, K., Sethi, M., Barau, A. (2017) Exploring the governance and politics of transformations towards sustainability. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. 24:1–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2016.09.001 [Open Access].
  • Patterson, J.J., Smith, C., Bellamy, J. (2013) Understanding enabling capacities for managing the ‘wicked problem’ of nonpoint source water pollution in catchments: A conceptual framework. Journal of Environmental Management 128: 441-452. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.05.033
  • Patterson, J.J., A. Lukasiewicz, P.J. Wallis, N. Rubenstein, B. Coffey, E. Gachenga, & A.J.J. Lynch. (2013) Tapping fresh currents: fostering early-career researchers in transdisciplinary water governance research. Water Alternatives 6(2): 293-312. URL: http://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/archive-toc/1882-articles-toc/vol6/237-issue6-2 [Open Access].