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Assistant Professor of Institutional Dynamics in Sustainability, Utrecht University

James Patterson is an Assistant Professor at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University. His work focuses on the institutional and political dynamics of domestic climate change governance (spanning urban, subnational, and national levels). It is located at the intersection of environmental studies and political science.

Empirically, his work concerns the domestic political sphere (spanning city, subnational, and national levels), involving both qualitative and quantitative analysis at both large-N and small-N scales. James is passionate about understanding processes of change and transformation in governance towards a sustainable and equitable future.

Over the last ten years, he has worked at several universities in The Netherlands, Canada, and Australia.


  • 2018–present
    Assistant Professor (Lecturer), Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • 2017–2018
    Senior Researcher, Open University of The Netherlands
  • 2015–2017
    Postdoctoral research fellow, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 2014–2015
    Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • 2010–2014
    PhD Researcher, University of Queensland, Australia


  • 2014 
    University of Queensland, PhD
  • 2007 
    University of New South Wales, Bachelor of Environmental Engineering and Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons 1)

Grants and Contracts

  • 2021
    Climate Backlash: Contentious reactions to policy action (BACKLASH)
    Principal Investigator
    Funding Source:
    European Research Council
  • 2018
    Low-carbon action in ordinary cities (LO-ACT)
    Funding Source:
    European Research Council
  • 2015
    Institutional Innovation for Adapting to Climate Change in Water Governance within Cities (INNOVCITIES)
    Principal Investigator
    Funding Source:
    European Commission

Professional Memberships

  • European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)
  • American Political Science Association
  • Earth System Governance Project