Professor Jan Selby


I joined the University of Leeds in 2023 as Professor of International Politics and Climate Change, having previously worked at the universities of Lancaster (2000-02), Aberystwyth (2002-04), Sussex (2005-20) and Sheffield (2020-23). 

My research focuses on the political causes of, and responses to, climate and other environmental changes, though he has also worked periodically on themes in International Relations theory; conflict, peacebuilding and development; and Middle East politics. 

Research interests

My research focuses on the links between climate and other environmental changes, and structures and dynamics of politics and power. This involves exploring both the political, including international political and political-economic, causes of environmental changes and crises, as well as the consequences of environmental changes and crises for politics, and the political responses to them. My work is informed by a combination of political ecology, and historical materialist and post-colonial International Relations. 

My research cuts across five areas:

Climate security: I have worked extensively on the conflict and security implications of climate change, including in relation to Sudan, Syria, the Lake Chad basin, and globally/theoretically, demonstrating across this body of work that the conflict and security implications of climate change have been widely misrepresented and misunderstood. My most recent book, Divided Environments: An International Political Ecology of Climate Change, Water and Security (Cambridge University Press 2022, co-authored with Gabrielle Daoust and Clemens Hoffmann here) synthesises these findings.  

Water politics: Prior to working on climate, I worked mainly on water issues. My first book (here) explored Israeli-Palestinian water politics within the context of the Oslo peace process. Subsequent research on Israeli-Palestinian water negotiation files provided the first documented evidence, in any field, of the Palestinian Authority formally consenting to Israel’s illegal settlement-building programme in the West Bank (here). I have also written on the implications of water scarcities for international politics, critiquing ‘water wars’ narratives. My recent CUP book builds upon this twenty-plus years of work on water politics and conflicts, to explore the security implications of climate change via analysis of water (the ‘climate-water-security nexus’).

Climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation: Building on this work on environmental conflict and security, I have also moved into exploring other existing and projected climate change impacts, as well as attempts to adapt to or pre-empt them. This has included research on the implications of climate change for migration (including a major evidence review for the UK government here); on the use of social assistance finance for climate adaptation (through ongoing participation in the BASIC research programme here); and on ‘everyday’ practices of climate adaptation in the global South (a new area on which I’m just starting to work). 

The politics of climate mitigation and low-carbon transitions: My research increasingly focuses on mitigation issues, including on the impacts of non-energy policies on energy demand, on supply-side climate governance, and on the international politics of energy transition. In 2021, I gave the Kenneth Waltz Memorial Lecture on these themes (here). I am just starting a new stream of research on the global politics and governance of methane emissions. 

Broader contributions to IR: I have also worked on various broader themes within IR. This has included work on global governance (the subject of a 2003 volume co-edited with Feargal Cochrane and Rosaleen Duffy here); on the use and misuse of the work of Michel Foucault within IR; on the work of Edward Said; on militarism and International Relations (the subject of a 2012 book co-edited with Anna Stavrianakis here); on ‘the myth of liberal peace-building’ within peacebuilding research; and on the point and purpose of IR as a discipline (the subject of a 2017 book with Synne Dyvik and Rorden Wilkinson here). 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA in Combined Social Sciences (Philosophy, Politics and Sociology), University of Durham
  • MA In Cultural Studies, Lancaster University
  • PhD in Sociology, Lancaster University

Student education

I contribute to modules on climate change, climate politics and environmental politics on POLIS’s UG and MA programmes, and also contribute to the University’s cross-disciplinary MA in Climate Futures. 

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>