Sophia Kalantzakos was born in Athens, Greece. She received her B.A. in History and Italian Literature from Yale University, her M.A. from the School of International & Public Affairs, Columbia University and, after leaving public office, received her Ph.D. in Political Science and International Affairs from the University of the Peloponnese. In 2000, she became a Member of the Hellenic Parliament, the first woman elected from the State of Messinia, serving on the Committees for Foreign Affairs and Defense, European Affairs, and Education. As a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, she was responsible for Greek-US relations and headed the Greek delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. In 2004, she served as Greece’s Honorary Ambassador for the Olympic Truce preceding the Athens Olympics.
In 2007, she was appointed Deputy Minister of Labor and Pensions, one of two women in the cabinet. During her tenure, the government passed far-reaching pension reforms. She was responsible for negotiating with Greek Trade Unions and Social Partners to help ease the effects of the international financial crisis on the labor market and to help create effective worker training programs. She was especially interested in fostering equal opportunity for marginalized social groups and helping to promote gender equality in the workplace. Ms Kalantzakos also focused attention on the creation of green jobs through the use of EU structural funds for companies and environmental NGOs. Ms. Kalantzakos’ work has extended beyond the traditional policy realm, recognizing that cultural change and public engagement are essential to fostering a more sustainable and prosperous future.
In 2010 she left politics and was named Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy at New York University. She also serves as a member of NYU’s Sustainability Task Force, advising on strategy and communications to improve environmental performance and community engagement.
Ms. Kalantzakos has lectured widely on sustainability and public policy, addressing business, government and academic audiences on the challenges posed by the global ecological crisis and the opportunities inherent in strategic green economic development. Her research and teaching focus on the geopolitics of green growth and Europe’s path to a sustainable low carbon economy. One current project examines how rhetoric about sustainability and clean energy in the United States has failed to engage the public or advance policy goals, in contrast with divergent approaches in Europe. She writes widely on economic, labor, and environmental issues in the press and has recently completed a book on the geopolitics of rare earths and the implications of China’s near monopoly of these strategic materials.
“Understanding the New Europe: Democracy and Politics”, January 2014, Faculty Resource Network Seminar funded by a grant from the European Union, American College of Greece in Athens, Greece; “The History of the Formation of the EU”; “The Nature and threat of the Euro crisis and its impact on the European project “; “Europe-US: A frayed relationship that continues to matter”; “Climate Change: The Great ‘Asymmetric’ Threat of our generation”; “The Future of the European Project: Opportunities, challenges, dangers and growing public discontent.
“Rare Earths: Resource Competition and Green Growth,” The Center for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), Thessaloniki, Greece (2013)
“Global Distribution and Competition over Energy Resources and the Southeast Mediterranean Region” at Eastern Mediterranean conference, The Center for European and Mediterranean Studies and the Remarque Institute, NYU (2013)
“Women in and of the World: Lessons in Leadership” joint lecture at the Brademas Center for the Study of Congress, NYU, with Michele Flournoy, former U.S. Undersecretary of Defense (2013)
“Resource Competition in the Age of the BRICS”; “Geostrategic Competition over Rare Earths”; “Energy Security: U.S. vs China”, “The Failure in America of the Rhetoric of Sustainability and Green Growth”; Europe’s 2020 Strategy Derailed by Natural Gas?” –set of five invited lectures at the Department of International and European Studies at the University of Piraeus (2013)
“And the Strong will inherit the Earths: China’s Strategy for Cornering the Rare Earths Market”, NYU Abu Dhabi (2012)
“Is the European Economic Crisis Overshadowing Efforts to Combat
Climate Change?” Columbia University Seminar for Legal, Social and Economic Environmental Issues, Columbia University (2011)
“The Greek Debt Crisis and the Future of the Greek Banking System,” the Boenning and Scattergood Lecture, NYC (2011)
“The EU Response to Climate Change: A Paradigm of Leadership?” University of Thessaloniki (2010)
“Creating a Sustainable Athens for the 21st century,” NYU (2010)
“The Challenges of Ecosystem Management” with Shelby White, Leon Levy Foundation, NYU (2010)