James Patterson is an Assistant Professor at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University in the field of institutions for sustainability. His work is situated at the intersection of political science, environmental studies, and institutional analysis. James’ core theoretical focus is on institutions and their dynamics: how and why do institutions change, and with what effects on governance systems and society? Empirically, his work focuses on cities and climate change. Overall, James’ work is motivated by a passion to understand innovation and transformation in governance systems to enable sustainable and equitable pathways of change.

Previously, James has worked as a postdoctoral researcher in The Netherlands and Canada, and conducted his PhD research in Australia. His work has appeared in journals including Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, and The International Journal of the Commons. He is a member of the Earth System Governance Project Scientific Steering Committee (2018-), and was a Lead Author on the Earth System Governance Science Plan 2018-2028.

Key publications

  • Patterson, J.J., Huitema, D. (forthcoming) Institutional innovation for adapting to climate change in urban governance. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.
  • Patterson, J.J., Beunen, R. (forthcoming) Introduction to Special Issue: Institutional work in environmental governance. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.
  • van der Heijden, J., Patterson, J.J., Juhola, S., Wolfram, M. (forthcoming) Introduction to Special Section: Advancing the role of cities in climate governance – promise, limits, politics. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.
  • 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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.11.002 [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].
  • Beunen, R., Patterson, J.J., van Assche, K. (2017) Governing for resilience: the role of institutional work. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 28:10-16. 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.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.05.002
  • 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].
  • Beunen, R., and Patterson, J.J. (2016) Institutional change in environmental governance: exploring the concept of “institutional work”. Journal of Environmental Planning and Managementhttps://doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2016.1257423 [Open Access].
  • 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].