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Call for PhD participants: Conducting research at global environmental negotiations

6 June 2019

Alice Vadrot (Vienna University) and I are looking for PhD students to participate as active discussants in a workshop on methods for Conducting research at global environmental negotiations. The workshop will take place at the University of Vienna, 10th to 11th of September 2019.

Prospective participants need to have an interest and experience in researching global environmental negotiations, from the intergovernmental meeting to all elements of mega-events, including the COPs, side events, and surrounding protest to the more distant research site that is connected and impacted by these events.

Please send an abstract to of how your research interest might connect to the workshop by June 30th.

Workshop Abstract 

Recent scholarship in Global Environmental Politics makes apparent the importance of gaining access and observing the making of global environmental agreements in order to understand the process and power relations of their formation (Campbell et al. 2014; Ciplet, Roberts and Khan 2015; Depledge 2013; Dimitrov 2010). As more scholars attend and collect data at intergovernmental meetings and global mega-events, the need to develop new conceptual and methodological apparatus to capture the dynamics within and between these sites has become apparent, which has resulted in interventions and developments in the field (Betsill and Correll 2007; Campbell et al. 2014; Corson et al. 2019; Hughes, Marion Suiseeya and Vadrot 2019).

While these innovations challenge our understanding of the people, practices, and power relations that shape global environmental politics, they do not provide practical guidance to those new to these study sites. An increasing number of scholars use the mega biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development conferences as sites to gain access to networks of global environmental politics and interview participants. Many also attend intergovernmental meeting sites to observe and document the actors, practices, discourses and institutional dynamics of global environmental agreement making. However, once on site, researchers do not always have a clear sense of how to cope with the scale of researching the complex interactions that are apparent on arrival, which meeting or side-event to attend, or from whom to collect data and how to make sense of it.

This workshop will bring together scholars experienced in global environmental negotiations and contributing to the development and application of conceptual and methodological innovations. The aim is to further develop these innovations and produce a guide for those new to the study of environmental meetings. To achieve this, the workshop will integrate the needs and perspectives of postgraduate scholars so that together we can explore how a new generation of research can be catalysed, the aim of which is to transform how we collectively study global environmental agreement making.

The Project

This workshop responds to the need for greater practical methodological guidance and is part of a series of events that are designed to facilitate in-depth discussion between experienced, early career and postgraduate researchers in order to develop appropriate research tools and frameworks. The workshop builds on work by Hughes and Vadrot as published in a recent special section in Global Environmental Politics on Methodological Innovation in the Study of Global Environmental Agreement Making, edited by Hannah Hughes, Kimberly Marion Suiseeya and Alice Vadrot.

The workshop also draws on and informs research conducted in the ERC Project MARIPOLDATA directed by Alice Vadrot. Participants to the workshop will become part of the MARIPOLDATA research methods network. As such, they will be invited to share their views on applying our conceptualisations and methodological approaches to the specific case of an emerging negotiation site.

MARIPOLDATA studies negotiations on a new international legally binding instrument to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under the United National Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The BBNJ case will be used to develop and apply a new multi-scale approach to study new forms of power at the intersection between ocean science and marine politics. PhD students working in the project will share their experiences in conducting research at ongoing BBNJ negotiations. The MARIPOLDATA team and invited PhD participants will contribute an important element of the workshop discussion, offering insights from their research and the challenges they have faced during fieldwork, and will have the opportunity to publish collective contributions.

The Practicalities

  • The workshop will include 3 night’s accommodation, workshop lunches and a dinner, and support travel up to €200 within EU/€600 outside EU.
  • If you have questions regarding financial support and advice for travel arrangements, please contact Emmanuelle Brogat at