I am Professor of Environmental Policy in the Geography Department of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
I landed at the Open University in 1995 after working in accounts and as a merchant seaman. During a two year career break in the 1980s I travelled extensively, developing a concern about global environmental degradation along the way. This eventually led to a PhD in international forest politics at City University London and to my current research in global environmental governance, politics and policy.
I have served as an advisor to the World Commission on Forests and Sustainable Development, as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Forest Institute and with various UK government delegations to the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). I have been a UK representative on two EU-funded research programmes: COST Action E19 on ‘National Forest Programmes in a European Context’; and COST Action FP1207 on ‘Orchestrating forest policy analysis in Europe’. I was a member of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) Global Forest Expert Panel on the international forest regime and of the IUFRO Task Force on International Forest Governance, and am currently working with the IUFRO Working Group on Forest Policy Learning Architecture and Governance. In 2011 I was a member of the Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DelPHE) team on academic capacity building in Afghanistan supported by the British Council and Department for International Development.
I have guest edited special issues of five peer-reviewed journals: Forest Policy and Economics (2002, with Peter Glück); Global Environmental Politics (2003, with Matthew Paterson and Lloyd Pettiford); Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences (2009); Environmental Science and Policy (2014, with Marleen Buizer and Wil de Jong); and Forest Policy and Economics (2017, with Shonil Bhagwat). I am a member of the editorial board of Forest Policy and Economics and of the advisory board of Common Ground’s Global Studies knowledge community.
In 2015 I was appointed lead editor of Common Ground’s On Sustainability collection of academic journals, and academic lead for the annual International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. You can find out about the next conference in Cairns, Australia in January 2018 here, including details of how to register.
BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations, University of Kent at Canterbury (1991)
PhD International Relations, City University London (1995)
2008 International Studies Association: Harold and Margaret Sprout Award
2015 Institute of Chartered Foresters: Honorary Fellowship
2016 The Open University: Teaching Award for Excellence in Innovation
2017 Higher Education Academy: National Teaching Fellowship
My current research interests centre on five interrelated areas at the interface of geography, environmental politics and international studies. The first is global environmental governance, with a particular interest in the United Nations Forum on Forests and other forest-related international organisations, including the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN REDD+ mechanism. Research in this area also focuses on private sector governance schemes in shaping norms and rules, the interactions between public and private spheres in environmental governance, and the democratic regulation of business corporations. The second is environmental philosophy and environmental law, and in particular the role that different rights claims play in shaping environmental politics and domestic and international law, with an interest in the moral claim that nature has rights that precede those of humans. The third is the relationship between science, technology and politics with particular interests in two areas: forest science, and geoengineering. The fourth is research into national forest policy in the United Kingdom within the context of pan-European forest policy. The fifth is the relationship between ideas on sustainability and heritage, both environmental heritage and urban heritage. A common theme to all areas of research is the relationship between theory and practice and how research can inform the work of external user groups to generate durable governance.
I welcome applications from prospective PhD students interested in all areas of environmental geography, environmental policy and environmental politics.
I'm a member of the OpenSpace Research Centre.
Humphreys, D. and S. Stober (eds) (2014) Transitions to Sustainability: Theoretical Debates for a Changing Planet, Champaign IL, Common Ground, 360pp.
Humphreys, D., N. Clark, S. Smith, P. Jehlicka and N. Bingham (eds) (2013) Environment: Sharing a Dynamic Planet – Introduction, Life, Water, Milton Keynes, The Open University, 470pp. [DST206 set text].
Humphreys, D and A. Blowers (eds) (2009) A Warming World, Milton Keynes, The Open University, 274pp. [DU311 set text].
Humphreys, D. (2006) Logjam: Deforestation and the Crisis of Global Governance, London: Earthscan, 302pp.
Humphreys, D. (ed.) (2004) Forests for the Future: National Forest Programmes in Europe, Luxembourg: European Communities, 345pp.
Thomas, A., S. Carr and D. Humphreys (eds) (2001) Environmental Policies and NGO Influence: Land Degradation and Sustainable Resource Management in Sub-Saharan Africa, London: Routledge, 201pp.
Humphreys, D. (1996) Forest Politics: The Evolution of International Cooperation, London: Earthscan, 299pp.
Bhagwat, S., D. Humphreys and N. Jones (2017) 'Forest governance in the Anthropocene: Challenges for theory and practice', Forest Policy and Economics (online first).
Humphreys, D. (2016) ‘Integers, integrants and normative vectors: The problem of environmental policy integration under neoliberalism’, Environment and Planning C 34(3): 433-447.
Humphreys, D. (2016) ‘Rights of Pachamama: The emergence of an Earth jurisprudence in the Americas’, Journal of International Relations and Development 19 (online first).
de Jong, W. and D. Humphreys (2016) 'A failed Social Licence to Operate for the neoliberal modernization of Amazonian resource use: The underlying causes of the Bagua tragedy of Peru', Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research 89(5): 552-564.
Humphreys, D. (2015) ‘The reconstruction of the Beirut Central District: An urban geography of war and peace’, Spaces and Flows: An international journal of urban and extraurban studies, 6(4): 1-14.
Humphreys, D. (2015) ‘Negotiating the future under the shadow of the past: The eleventh session of the United Nations Forum on Forests and the 2015 renewal of the international arrangement on forests’, International Forestry Review 17(4): 385-399.
Humphreys, D. (2015) ‘Know your rights: Earth jurisprudence and environmental politics’, International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice 10(3-4): 1-14.
Buizer, M., D. Humphreys and W. de Jong (2014) ‘Climate change and deforestation: the evolution of an intersecting policy domain’, Environmental Science and Policy 35: 1-11.
Satyal Pravat, P. and D. Humphreys (2013) ‘Using a multilevel approach to analyse the case of forest conflicts in the Terai, Nepal’, Forest Policy and Economics 33: 47-55.
Humphreys, D. (2011) ‘Smoke and mirrors: reflections on the science and politics of geoengineering’, Journal of Environment and Development 20(22): 99-120.
Humphreys, D. (2009). Discourse as ideology: Neoliberalism and the limits of international forest policy. Forest Policy and Economics, 11(5-6) pp. 319–325.
Humphreys, D. (2009) ‘Working across boundaries: science-policy interfaces and international forest politics’, Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences 6(3): 163-174.
Humphreys, D. (2009) 'From Corporate Social Responsibility to the Democratic Regulation of Transnational Corporations', International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Social and Economic Sustainability 5(4): 207-218.
Humphreys, D. (2009) 'Environmental and Ecological Citizenship in Civil Society', The International Spectator 44(1): 171-183.
Humphreys, D. (2008) 'The politics of “Avoided Deforestation”: Historical context and contemporary issues', International Forestry Review 10(3): 433-442.
Humphreys, D. (2005) 'The Elusive Quest for a Global Forests Convention', Review of European Community and International Environmental Law (RECIEL) 14(1): 1-10.
Humphreys, D. (2004) 'Redefining the Issues: NGO Influence on International Forest Negotiations', Global Environmental Politics 4(2): 51-74.
Humphreys, D. (2003) 'The United Nations Forum on Forests: Anatomy of a stalled international process', Global Environmental Change 13(4): 319-323.
Humphreys, D. (2003) 'Life Protective or Carcinogenic Challenge?: Global Forests Governance under Advanced Capitalism', Global Environmental Politics 3(2): 40-55.
Paterson, M., D. Humphreys and L. Pettiford, (2003) 'Conceptualizing Global Environmental Governance: From Interstate Regimes to Counter-Hegemonic Struggles', Global Environmental Politics 3(2): 1-10.
Glück, P. and D. Humphreys (2002) 'Research into National Forest Programmes in a European Context', Forest Policy and Economics 4(4): 253-258.
Humphreys, D. (2001) 'Forest Negotiations at the United Nations: Explaining Cooperation and Discord', Forest Policy and Economics 3(2): 125-135.
Humphreys. D. (2013) ‘Deforestation’, in C.G. Bates and J. Ciment (eds) Global Social Issues: An Encyclopaedia – Volume 1 (A – F), Armonk NY: Sharpe Reference, pp. 198-203.
Humphreys, D. (2011) ‘International forest politics’, in G. Kütting (ed.) Global Environmental Politics: Concepts, theories and case studies, London: Routledge, pp.135-150.
Humphreys, D., J. Gosenns, M.J. Jackson, A. Plasmeijer, W. van Betuw and F. Mohren (2007) 'Biotechnology in the Forest?: Policy Options on Research on GM Trees', in A.K. Kumari (ed.) (2007) GM Crops and Genetic Engineering: Impact on Agriculture and Ecology, Hyderabad: ICFAI University, pp.9-42, originally published as European Forest Institute Discussion Paper 12, Joensuu, Finland, 35 pp.
Humphreys, D. (2002) 'The Pedagogy and Practice of Role Play: Using a Negotiation to Teach Social Science Theory', in International Conference on Computers in Education, 3-6 December 2002, Auckland, New Zealand: Proceedings, vol. 2, pp.1063-1067.
A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.
From 2007 to 2013 I was the qualification director for the BA in Environmental Studies. I have worked on several Open University module teams, including Earth in Crisis: Environmental Policy in an International Context (DU311). I co-chaired the production of the University’s second level interdisciplinary module Environment: Sharing a dynamic planet (DST206).
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