ISA-ESS Engaged Scholar Award

“We encourage ourselves and our colleagues to remember to infuse [global environmental politics] scholarship with those original ideals of accessibility, policy relevance, interdisciplinarity, intellectual diversity, problem-focused research, and action-oriented analysis.” (Dauvergne and Clapp, 2016)[1]

The award

Following calls from scholars within the section to encourage active outreach, participation, and leadership beyond the academy, the Environmental Studies Section of the International Studies Association has established the Engaged Scholar Award. The award is to be given to a person at any stage of their career who has successfully spanned (or is successfully spanning) academia and social/political engagement or activism on issues related in some way to the environment.

The award will recognize scholars who spend some of their time directly involved in engaged work beyond scholarship, through activism, organization, or advocacy, whether in local communities, public or private institutions, or through transnational networks. We understand “engagement” and “activism” to include efforts by scholars to participate in community-based or policy-oriented engagement, advising, social organizing, and/or societal transformation, beyond having their academic work read by those outside academia.

The recipient will be recognized by the ISA-ESS section at the annual meeting of the ISA. Generally, recognition will involve: a panel session honouring the work of the recipient; acknowledgement at the ESS reception; and a $500 USD cash prize, sponsored by the ESS.

We hope this award will bolster the work of the recipient, and also serve to encourage and remind scholars in the ESS that our community values action-oriented transformative work alongside rigorous scholarship.


Recipients of the ISA-ESS Engaged Scholar Award must meet the following criteria:

  • Be (or become) a member of the International Studies Association: The recipient must be a member or be prepared to join the ISA for the year of the award. For those not already members of the Environmental Studies Section, the award will include membership in the section for the year.
  • Record of meaningful scholarly/academic work or promise: The recipient should have a record of writing that is used and recognized — or, for junior scholars, hold the promise of use and recognition — within the academic community of environmental studies (this includes interdisciplinary environmental studies, politics and policy, geography, sociology, and other cognate fields). That is, the recipient should be actively involved in academia and may be at any stage of their academic career.
  • Evidence of activist, public, community, and/or policy engagement: The recipient should have evidence of activity that moves beyond academia into participation in activism, policy, or organizing work. For this award, engagement refers to organizing, advocacy, or other transformational action beyond scholarly writing. That is, the award recipient should be more than someone whose scholarly writings are read and used by those outside the academy — they will themselves be actively engaged in activism, organizing, or policy work beyond scholarly publishing. The engagement may be short- or long-term (specific instances of engagement or ongoing participation), may be through advising or leadership roles, and may be through local, regional, or transnational communities, institutions, or processes.
  • Environmental connection: The academic and/or engagement work of the scholar should have some link (direct or indirect) to environmental studies. Usually the academic work of the recipient will inform or be informed by their engagement outside academia.

How to apply

You may nominate yourself or another scholar for this award. In both cases, the nominee must complete part of the application form. The deadline for the inaugural 2022-2023 award is June 1, 2022.

  • Deadline: June 1, 2022
  • Nomination process: You may nominate yourself or another scholar. In either case, the nominee must provide part of the nomination materials (this is to ensure nominees are willing to have their names put forward for the award). Nomination packages must contain:
    • 1) A CV of the nominee — this will be used to evaluate the nominee’s record of meaningful scholarly work/writing. For junior scholars, details about graduate degree programs should be provided (e.g., course of study, thesis/dissertation work in progress, etc.).
    • 2) A statement of engagement (one page [500 words] maximum) written by the nominee — this will be used to evaluate the nominee’s direct participation in activism, mobilization, community support, organizing, advocacy, and/or policy work (whether specific instances or ongoing participation). The statement will also be used to evaluate the relevance of the nominee’s work to the field of environmental studies (broadly understood).
  • Status of self-nominations: Please note that self-nominations are very welcome; many scholars engaged in activist/organizing/policy work might not be public about their efforts, especially if they are concerned such work will be viewed by their institutions or colleagues as a distraction from their academic pursuits.
  • Who to contact: Nominations may be sent by email to any member of the Award Committee for consideration. Please send nominations to Kate Neville ( or Matthew Hoffmann ( Please submit the nomination materials as email attachments in PDF format (you may submit a combined document or two separate documents).

The committee 

For the 2022-2023 award only, the committee will be an ad hoc committee with two representatives from the ExCom, and two appointed representatives: Kate Neville (University of Toronto) and Matthew Hoffmann (University of Toronto).

After this inaugural year, there will be a standing ESS committee with four members charged with adjudicating the award. The committee members will be elected by the ISA-ESS section during the annual business meeting, with elections managed by the nominations committee.

[1] Dauvergne, Peter, and Clapp, Jennifer. 2016. Researching Global Environmental Politics in the 21st Century. Global Environmental Politics 16 (1): 1-12.

Past recipients

2024Kariuki Kirigia & Kathryn Harrison