Sophia Kalantzakos

Global Distinguished Professor, Environmental Studies and Public Policy Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BA Yale University; MA Columbia University, PhD University of the Peloponnese

Research Websites: eARThumanities Research Initiative The Geopolitics and Ecology of Himalayan Water

Research Areas: global environmental governance, resource competition, energy, China’s belt and road initiative, EU institutions, gender and diversity, cross-border mobility.

Sophia Kalantzakos is Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy. Her research focuses on resources and power, on new spatial imaginaries that reflect the changing ways that we think of global space and interdependence, and on the new emergent patterns and avenues of possibilist thinking as a way of re-imagining geopolitics for the 21st century. Her work, for example, has examined how the strategic value of mineral deposits for the decarbonization of the global economy and the fourth industrial revolution intersects with a changing post-carbon resource map accelerating geopolitical realignments between the developing and developed world.

Her recent research unpacks the implications of the push toward the unification of Eurasia and Africa as a result of the climate emergency, China’s global aspirations illustrated through the belt and road initiative, Europe’s reckoning with a seismic push against both its normative and economic power and the US’s re-evaluation of its leadership role in the global order. Kalantzakos’ work examines how current epistemic systems will need to give way to new modes of thinking. As nation-states are turning inward in response to demands for de-globalization even while future challenges remain intensely global, her work advances the construction of dynamic, inclusive, and action-oriented responses to the greatest challenges facing our global commons.

Kalantzakos explores the fertile tensions between modes and styles of thinking to bridge the humanities and social sciences. She founded and heads eARThumanities, the Environmental Humanities Research Initiative at NYU Abu Dhabi. In the summer of 2020, she launched a new project entitled The Geopolitics and Ecology of Himalayan Water which addresses growing water insecurity for 2.5 billion people as the climate crisis worsens and regional power struggles become increasingly fraugh.  

She is the author of  China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths (Oxford University Press, 2018), The EU, US, and China Tackling Climate Change: Policies and Alliances for the Anthropocene (Routledge, 2017). Kalantzakos edited  Critical Minerals, the Climate Crisis and the Tech Imperium (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2023) and is co-editor of  Energy and Environmental Transformations in a Globalizing World: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue,(Nomiki Vivliothiki, 2015). Her forthcoming book is entitled: EU and China: Face-off in the Horn of Africa.

She has been a Rachel Carson Fellow at LMU Munich in 2015 and 2018 and member of its Academic Advisory Board and is currently President of the RCC Society of Fellows. During the academic year 2019-2020, Kalantzakos was a Fung Global Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS). In Academic Year 2020-2021, she was a Senior Fellow in the Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology at Caltech and the Huntington (RIHST@CH).

Courses Taught