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Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology; Director, Center for Environmental Studies

J. Timmons Roberts

Brown University

Timmons Roberts is Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies at Brown University, where he was Director of the Center for Environmental Studies from 2009 to 2012.  He taught at the College of William and Mary and directed its Program in Environmental Science and Policy from 2001 to 2009, and he held a joint appointment in Latin American Studies and Sociology and co-directed the Environmental Studies program at Tulane University from 1991 to 2001. Timmons was a James Martin 21st Century Professor at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute in 2006-2007, and a Research Fellow at William and Mary’s Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations in 2008-2009. His 1992 Ph.D. was from Johns Hopkins University in Sociology’s Program in Comparative International Development. His B.A. was in Biology (with research in tropical and temperate ecology) from Kenyon College.

Co-author and editor of eight books and edited volumes, and of over sixty articles and book chapters, Timmons’ current research focuses on climate change and international devleopment. It has three threads: 1. How shifting relations between the global North and South affect the United Nations negotiations on climate change; 2. The role of foreign aid in the negotiations and in assisting developing countries cope with climate impacts and greening their economies; and 3. What social factors explain national “pathways” (being relatively high or low carbon emitters for their level of human development). In all three his core focus is on how equity affects our ability to address this complex global problem.

A co-founder of AidData.org, Timmons is part of an international effort to produce a quantum leap in transparency in climate finance, and foreign aid more broadly. His Climate and Development Lab at Brown provides research support to the Least Developed Countries Group–the world’s 48 poorest nations–in the U.N. climate negotiations. He is a leader in Rhode Island’s efforts to plan for how to adapt to climate changes, serving on the RI Climate Change Commission, which was created in 2010 by legislation written by him and his Brown students. Professor Roberts has worked for many years with students on greening initiatives and with community groups and local, state and national governments. He teaches environmental sociology, globalization and the environment, and practicum group workshop courses on environmental policy issues. Most recently, he was appointed to the Board on Environmental Change and Society of the National Academy of Sciences.