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Working Group on Earth-Space Governance


The increasingly complex developments in the space sector bring a significant impact on earth system governance. With a diverse set of actors building various satellite systems, Earth’s orbit has become a new competitive ground that shapes daily activities on Earth. In addition, the increasing activities on the Moon are reshaping geopolitics, while private enterprises aim to build human settlements on Mars. The expansion of human activities beyond the Earth system is thus shaping and altering the future of planetary sustainability. However, existing studies lack comprehensive conceptual, analytical, and methodological tools to effectively address this rising challenge.

The Working Group on Earth-Space Governance aims to explore the increasing relevance of outer space development on earth system governance. Key research topics include:

  • The changing roles of the state and private actors in view of ‘New Space’, i.e., the rapid privatization of the space sector;
  • The interrelations of (extra)terrestrial politics, i.e., how geopolitics on Earth shape political tension in space and vice versa;
  • Potential global institutional architectures for governing rising space activities;
  • The role of space in the future-making of sustainability; and
  • Challenges for integrative earth-space governance.
  • To Facilitate space governance research in the Earth System Governance community
  • To promote sustainability concerns among the space community and beyond
  • To provide actionable policy insights
  • To support and assist early career researchers

We welcome early career researchers, senior academics, and experts in the field to become members of the Working Group on Earth-Space Governance. Please get in touch with Dr. Xiao-Shan Yap at if you are interested.


Research Fellows
Senior Research Fellows

Scientific Steering Committee

All names are listed in alphabetical order according to their last names

Prof. Frank Biermann (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Frank Biermann is Professor of Global Sustainability Governance at Utrecht University, director of the ERC GlobalGoals project, founder of the Earth System Governance Project, and editor of the Earth System Governance journal.

Prof. Mai’a K. Davis Cross (Northeastern University, United States)
Mai’a K. Davis Cross is the Dean’s Professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Diplomacy and the Director of the Center for International Affairs and World Cultures in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University. She is an expert on international cooperation, especially in the areas of European foreign and security policy, epistemic communities, crises, diplomacy, and public diplomacy.

Prof. Jessica Green (University of Toronto, Canada)
Jessica Green is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. She is cross-appointed in the School of Environment, and has previously held positions at Case Western University (in Cleveland, OH) and New York University (in NYC). Her research interests encompass climate governance, non-state actors, private authority, global governance, and transnational regulation.

Prof. Aarti Gupta (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Aarti Gupta is Professor of Global Environmental Governance with the Environmental Policy Group, Department of Social Sciences, Wageningen University. Her research is in the field of global environmental and climate governance, with a focus on transparency and accountability and the challenges of anticipatory governance of novel technologies (including biotechnology and climate engineering).

Jean-Frédéric Morin

Prof. Jean-Frédéric Morin (Laval University, Canada)
Jean-Frédéric Morin is Canada Research Chair in International Political Economy at Laval University. His research looks at international environmental institutions. He is particularly interested in how these institutions innovate, interact and evolve.

Dr. Florian Rabitz (Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania)
Florian Rabitz is chief researcher in the Research Group Civil Society and Sustainability at Kaunas University of Technology. His work broadly focuses on the environment-technology-governance triangle. His empirical focus is on biotechnology, climate engineering and, more recently, the emerging space industry.

Dr. Quentin Verspieren (European Space Agency, France; Tokyo University, Japan)
Quentin Verspieren is Assistant Professor of Space Policy at the Graduate School of Public Policy of The University of Tokyo, affiliated with the Science, Technology, and Innovation Governance (STIG) program. His research primarily focusses on space policymaking and technology development in developing countries and on international regime-making for space security, safety and sustainability.

Prof. Oran Young (University of California, United States)
Oran Young is a renowned Arctic expert and a world leader in the fields of international governance and environmental institutions. His scientific work encompasses both basic research focusing on collective choice and social institutions, and applied research dealing with issues pertaining to international environmental governance and the Arctic as an international region.

Expert Advisory Board

All names are listed in alphabetical order according to their last names

Krystal Azelton (Secure World Foundation, United States)
Krystal Azelton (Wilson) is a Director of Space Applications Programs at Secure World Foundation and has over 10 years of international and domestic space, public policy, and management experience.

Emmanuelle David (EPFL Space Center, Switzerland)
Emmanuelle David is the Executive Director of EPFL Space Center. She has 10 years’ experience in space transportation in academia, agency and industry from pre-development projects up to launch operations.

Dr. Tim Flohrer (European Space Agency Space Debris Office, Germany)
Tim Flohrer works on space debris topics since 2002 when he joined the Optical Astronomy Group at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He moved to ESA’s Space Debris Office as an engineer in 2007 and became analyst in 2009, senior analyst in 2018. He was appointed Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office in 2020.

Dr. Susmita Mohanty (Spaceport SARABHAI, India)
Susmita Mohanty is an Indian spaceship designer, serial space entrepreneur and a climate action advocate. She is well known for her research on space related topics. She co-founded India’s first private space start-up, Earth2Orbit in 2009. She launched India’s first space think tank Spaceport SARABHAI in autumn 2021.

Prof. Thomas Schildknecht (University of Bern, Switzerland)
Thomas Schildknecht is currently leading the Optical Astronomy Group of the Astronomical Institute of the University of Bern, Switzerland, and is the director of the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald. His research combines an interest in astrodynamics and optical survey observations, with a particular emphasis on space debris.

Dr. Jessica West (Project Ploughshares, Canada)
Dr. Jessica West is a Senior Researcher at the Canadian peace research institute Project Ploughshares and Managing Editor of the international Space Security Index project. Her research and policy work is focused on technology, security, and governance. She is currently developing a map of the existing normative landscape that shapes outer space activities. Jessica West interacts regularly with key United Nations bodies tasked with space security and space safety issues.

Associate Members

All names are listed in alphabetical order according to their last names

Dr. Chad M. Baum
Aarhus University, Denmark

Tanner Caterina-Knorr
PhD candidate, Arizona State University, United States

Philippe Evoy
PhD candidate, Laval University, Canada

Marieluna Frank
PhD candidate, Zeppelin University, Germany

Assoc. Prof. Katharina Glaab
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

Dr. Volker Maiwald
Researcher, German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Ayşem Mert

Assoc. Prof. Ayşem Mert
Stockholm University

Dr. George Profitiliotis
TU Delft, The Netherlands

David Skogerboe
PhD candidate, Utrecht University

Luca Thanei
PhD candidate, ETH Zurich

Dr. Florian Vidal
The Arctic University of Norway, Norway

Hernan L. Villagran
Independent analyst and researcher

Santiago Vrech
PhD candidate, Utrecht University

Sabine Winters
PhD candidate, Utrecht University

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