James Van Alstine

Associate Professor in Environmental Policy, University of Leeds

James Van Alstine

James is Associate Professor in Environmental Policy and Co-Director of the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds. With a disciplinary background in human geography, he draws upon organisational and institutional theories as well as political economy and political ecology to explore human-environment interactions at multiple scales.

James seeks to bridge the academic-practitioner divide by pursuing action-oriented research that aims to maximise policy and pro-poor development impacts. For example, he leads a three-year (2012-2015) donor-funded project with local partners that explores opportunities for community-driven accountability in Uganda’s oil-bearing regions. He works closely with development partners, policy makers and regulatory agencies at the international, national and local levels, as well as with industry, NGOs and communities. James’ research spans the Global North and South, including Brazil, Ghana, Ireland, South Africa, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Zambia.


Prior to joining SRI in 2008, James was a fellow in Environmental Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he completed his PhD on corporate environmentalism in the South African petrochemical industry. James is also a writer, editor and team leader for the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Earth Negotiations Bulletin at United Nations multilateral environmental negotiations. James holds an MSc in Environmental Assessment and Evaluation from LSE and a BA in Philosophy from Northwestern University in the US.

Research interests

  • Natural resource governance and politics
  • Corporate social responsibility and international development
  • Community-driven accountability and social justice
  • Climate change governance and the politics of low-carbon transitions

Research articles


Working papers