John Meyer

Office: FH 138
Office Hours: MWR 1-2pm
Phone: 707-826-4497

John M. Meyer, Professor & Chair

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison


I teach in two overlapping areas: political ideas and the politics of environmental sustainability. My courses include Introduction to Political Theory, Environmental Politics, Contemporary Political Theory, Radical Political Thought, Politics of Sustainability, and seminars on a variety of themes including property, democracy, the politics of everyday life, and environmental political theory. I am also active in Humboldt’s interdisciplinary programs on Environment and Community and Environmental Studies.


My recent work focuses upon the ways in which environmental concerns might be the basis for effective social criticism. This has led me in several directions, including a critical analysis of the liberal concept of property; reflection upon the possibilities — and limitations — of a democratic conception of sacrifice; and the tension between populist and paternalist appeals within environmental argument. I am particularly interested in the ways in which large-scale material practices in society — including use of land, reliance upon automobiles, and dwelling in homes — can create both opportunities and constraints for arguments regarding environmental sustainability.

My new book Engaging the Everyday: Environmental Social Criticism and the Resonance Dilemma was published by the MIT Press in Spring 2015. I am also co-editor (with Teena Gabrielson, Cheryl Hall, and David Schlosberg) of the Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory and (with Jens Kersten) of the forthcoming book, The Greening of Everyday Life: Challenging Practices, Imagining Possibilities.

image image image

My earlier books are: The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice (MIT Press, 2010) (edited with Michael Maniates), Political Nature: Environmentalism and the Interpretation of Western Thought (MIT Press 2001), and American Indians and U.S. Politics (Praeger, 2002).

image image

I’ve published articles, essays, and reviews in the American Political Science Review, Environmental Politics, Environmental Values, Ethics, Place, and the Environment, the Journal of Political Philosophy, the Journal of Politics, Organization and Environment, Perspectives on Politics, Political Theory, Polity, and Theory&Event. More information is available on my curriculum vitae (below).

I’ve also written magazine essays commenting on the contemporary — and future — state of environmentalism in the U.S. These include “Rethinking Personal Sacrifice“ published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “Another Inconvenient Truth,” published in Dissent, and two essays about the controversy over the supposed “Death of Environmentalism” in Dissent and in a special issue of The American Prospect.

I have been a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt (LMU) in Munich, Germany, and a Member of the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.


I facilitate an international discussion list (contact me if you wish to join), and am active in an annual academic workshop, on environmental political theory. The workshop is scheduled in conjunction with the Western Political Science Association conference, which also includes a section devoted to environmental political theory. I serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Politics and am an associate editor of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

At Humboldt, I am a steering committee member for the Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT) and am proud to have received HSU’s “Club Advisor of the Year” award for my work with this student-driven organization. I have served on university’s sustainability steering committee, the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund Committee and the Cabinet for Institutional Change. I am currently a faculty representative on the University Senate.

Do you want a letter of recommendation?

  • If you’re considering applying to law school, read this and this.


Copies and links to my publications, talks, etc., may be found here:

Curriculum Vitae

View Curriculum Vitae (pdf)