Great Problems, Great Minds Seminar Series: The New Global Politics of Waste and Recycling


Kate O’Neill

Join the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker Kate O’Neill, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and associate dean of instruction and student affairs for the Rausser College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University. She is known for her work on global environmental politics and governance and the global political economy of waste. Her most recent book, Waste, was published by Polity Press in 2019. She is also the author of Waste Trading Among Rich Nations: Building a New Theory of Environmental Regulation (MIT Press 2000), and The Environment and International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2009 and 2017). She has published her work in journals such as the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, the Annual Review of Political Science, International Studies Review, Public Understanding of Science, WIRES Climate Change, and others. Her recent work has been featured on radio shows such as Fresh Air, Here and Now, and Marketplace, and quoted in the Economist and other venues, including The Conversation. She is a former co-editor-in-chief of the MIT Press journal Global Environmental Politics and has chaired the Environmental Studies Section of the International Studies Association.

The virtual event will take place on February 23 beginning at 12:40 p.m.

This presentation addresses how waste disposal and recycling have globalized in recent years, and what that means for the global governance of waste. It connects trends in local recycling systems with national and global events. The research focuses specifically on plastics, as they have been at the leading edge of controversy over the impacts of waste on the global environment and the failures of recycling. The presentation concludes with an assessment of the potential for global regulation of plastics and waste, particularly with a new plastics treaty under negotiation within the United Nations.

“The New Global Politics of Waste and Recycling” event will take place on Zoom.

The event is part of the Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series that explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page.

For more information, contact Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at


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