Sophia Kalantzakos is Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy at New York University and a long-term affiliate at NYU Abu Dhabi. 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 social sciences with the humanities. 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 becoming increasingly fraught.
She is the author of China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths (Oxford University Press, 2018; rev. 2021), The EU, US, and China Tackling Climate Change: Policies and Alliances for the Anthropocene (Routledge, 2017) and 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, a 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 AY 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).
During her time at Caltech and The Huntington, she worked on the Discursive Dimensions of China’s Ecological Civilization, the language, norms, and cultural values that are shaping notions of China’s “ecological civilization.” In addition, Kalantzakos organized an Institute on critical minerals entitled: Rich Rocks, the Climate Crisis and the Tech-Imperium, and a Residential Institute on the theme of Anthroforming the Landscape: A Historical View from Asia.