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Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University

Dr. Chris Rea studies the politics and economics of environmental governance and regulation. The most basic question that motivates his research is, how and why do particular approaches to environmental protection emerge — or fail to emerge — when and where they do? This is a deeply pressing question, particularly as human impacts on climate and ecological systems reshape the character and organization of nothing less than life on Earth.

Rea earned his doctorate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and a bachelor’s in physics, both from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. During the 2018-2019 academic year, he held a dual appointment as an assistant professor at the Glenn College and also as a Voss Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

In the most expansive sense, Rea’s research explores the political dynamics of market economies, institutional and organizational change, economic and environmental regulation, and the politics and production of scientific knowledge. Although solidly grounded in sociology, his work is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on political and economic sociology, institutional and organizational theory, social movement theory, political science, public affairs, environmental studies, political ecology, and science and technology studies. Rea's interests are wide-ranging; conversations and ideas loosely linked to the above areas — related to the environment or not — are most welcome any time.

Rea has published in leading sociological and interdisciplinary journals, including Theory and Society, Environmental Politics and The Annual Review of Sociology. He has also been lucky enough to spend time as a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany; was a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results Fellow; is an alumnus of the Summer Institute on Organizations and Their Effectiveness at the 
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University; and was also honored to be named a Young Scholar in Social Movements by the Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame.


  • –present
    Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University