Max Boykoff Research AREAS

Max Boykoff's research has concentrated on interactions between state and non-state actors at the interface of environmental science, policy and practice. He has been working in two primary research areas:

  1. issues in the cultural politics of climate change, and
  2. transformations of carbon-based economies and societies


As a few examples of his research in ‘cultural politics and climate change’:

  1. His most recent book is called Who Speaks for Climate? Making sense of media reporting on climate change (released November 15, 2011), with Cambridge University Press. This book works to make sense of how media representations of climate change influence the spectrum of possible responses to modern climate challenges. It is motivated by conditions in this 21st century where people rely more than ever upon media representations to help interpret and make sense of the many complexities relating to climate science and governance. Media representations – from news to entertainment – are powerful and important links between people’s everyday realities and experiences, and the ways in which these are discussed at a distance between science, policy and public actors. A dynamic mix of influences – from internal workings of mass media such as journalistic norms, institutional values and practices, to external political economic, cultural, and social factors – shape what becomes climate ‘news’ or ‘information’. Amid these spaces of meaning-making reside questions regarding who – through media visibility – translates climate science and governance, as well as how. 
  2. For a number of years, he and Maria Mansfield (University of Oxford) have been tracking newspaper coverage of climate change or global warming in 50 newspapers across 20 countries and 6 continents. To view the latest graph see: 2004-2010 World Newspaper Coverage of Climate Change or Global Warming (updated monthly). Country level profiles are now available as well for the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, India, and Japan (contributed by Dr. Midori Aoyagi-Usui).


For two examples of his research on the ‘transformations of carbon-based economies and societies’:

  1. Max co-authored a 2010 Global Environmental Change article with Dr. David Frame (University of Oxford) and Dr. Sam Randalls (University College London). This article interrogated the institutionalization of the discourse of "climate stabilization" over the last three decades. Taking a historical perspective, they argue that while this discourse has been valuable in making climate science legible and useful to governance in the past, it is now limiting wider considerations for alternative mitigation efforts, through premature foreclosure around fixed international policies.
  2. He has increasingly worked on issues of climate adaptation and urban environments in the Indian context. With Dr. Emily Boyd (University of Reading), he has examined adaptation strategies associated with flood events in Mumbai, India. Such work links with some of Max’s past research that examined vulnerability and livelihood issues in relation to global climate change and extreme events in Honduras.