Karen O'Brien

Image of Karen O'Brien
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47 22858480
Mobile phone +47 90063814
Room 339
Username
Visiting address Moltke Moes vei 31 Harriet Holters hus 0851 Oslo
Postal address Postboks 1096 Blindern 0317 Oslo

Academic Interests

Karen O'Brien is an internationally recognized expert on climate change and society, focusing on themes such as climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation including how climate change interacts with globalization processes and the implications for human security. She is interested in how transdisciplinary and integral approaches to global change research can contribute to a better understanding of how societies both create and respond to change, and particularly the role of beliefs, values and worldview in transformations to sustainability. She is passionate about what potential there is in quantum social theory and the implications for climate change responses. She currently leads a Norwegian Research Council Topforsk project called AdaptationCONNECTS (Adaptation: Combining Old and New kNowledge to Enable Conscious Transformation to Sustainability), that aims towards developing new understandings of whether and how transformations can contribute to successful adaptation to climate change. She has been heavily involved in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Global Change Programmes and the transition to Future Earth, a 10-year global change research initiative. She is the co-founder and partner in cCHANGE, an Oslo-based company.  cCHANGE is a beacon for individuals and organizations seeking a new perspective, inspiration, knowledge, and tools on climate change and sustainability transformations.

Background

  • B.A. in International Relations at the College of William and Mary, 1985
  • M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990
  • Ph.D. in Geography at the Pennsylvania State University, 1995
  • Post-doc at the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), 1996
  • Senior Research Fellow at CICERO, 1997-2005
  • 20% position in the Department of Human Geography, 2001
  • Professor in Human Geography, 2005

Awards

  • 2020 Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa at Linköpings University (to be awarded in May 2021), Sweden
  • 2019 Award for Excellence in Research, Human Dimensions of Global Change Speciality Group, American Association of Geographers (AAG).
  • 2015 University of Oslo Student Parliament's Teaching Award
  • 2011 Burtoni Prize for Adaptation Research
  • 2008 AAG Meridian Book Award (with Robin Leichenko) for ”Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures
  • Shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awared to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Positions Held

  • 2020 - Member of Scoping Group for IPBES Assessment Report on Transformative Change.
  • 2017 – 2019   Science Committee, Transformations 2018, Santiago, Chile. 
  • 2017 – 2019   Scientific Committee, Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, Norrköping 2018, Sweden.  
  • 2016 – 2017    Science Committee, Transformations 2017: Transformations in Practice Conference, Dundee 2017.
  • 2014 – 2015    Science Committee, Our Common Future in a Changing Climate Conference, Paris 2015.
  • 2013 – 2015    Member of Science Committee, Future Earth.
  • 2012 – 2014    Transdisciplinary Advisory Board member, EU Joint Programming Initiative –Climate Change.
  • 2012 – 2014    Core Writing Team Member for the Synthesis Report (SYR), IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, and Topic 3 Co-Facilitator
  • 2012 – 2014    Author, Summary for Policy Makers, IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group II.
  • 2009 – 2014    Lead Author, IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Working Group II, Chapter 20.
  • 2012 – 2014    Board Member, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo.
  • 2011 -- 2013    Chair of Working Group "Towards a Revolution in Education and Capacity Building" for ESF-COST Forward Look RESCUE Project
  • 2011– 2013     Member, Transition Team, 10-year Initiative on Earth System Science for Global Sustainability. Co-Chair of Working Group on “Research Vision”.
  • 2009 – 2012    Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 8 of the IPCC SREX report
Tags: Human geography, Environment, Climate change, Transformation, Social Change

Publications

Shrivastava, P., Stafford Smith, M., O’Brien, K., and Zsolnai, L. (2020). Transforming sustainability science to generate positive social and environmental change globally. One Earth 2(4): 329-340.

Leichenko, R. and K. O’Brien (2020) Teaching Climate Change in the “Anthropocene”: An Integrative Approach. Anthropocene 30: 100241.

Leichenko, R.M. and K.L. O’Brien 2019. Climate and Society: Transforming the Future. London: Polity Press.

Bentz, J. and K. O’Brien (2019). ART FOR CHANGE: Transformative learning and youth empowerment in a changing climate. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

O’Brien, K., Selboe, E. and B.M. Hayward. (2018) Exploring youth activism on climate change: dutiful, disruptive, and dangerous dissent. Ecology and Society 23(3):42. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-10287-230342

O’Brien, K. (2018). Is the 1.5°C Target Possible? Exploring the Three Spheres of Transformation. Current Opinion in Sustainability 31: 153-160. 

O'Brien, K. (2016) Climate change and social transformations: Is it time for a quantum leap? WIREs Climate Change, 7(5): 618-626.

O’Brien, K. (2015) Political agency: The key to tackling climate change. Science, 350(6265): 1170- 1171.

O’Brien, K.L. and E. Selboe (eds) (2015) The Adaptive Challenge of Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Inderberg, T.H., S. Eriksen, K.L. O´Brien and L. Sygna (2015) Climate Change Adaptation and Development: Transforming Paradigms and Practices. London: Routledge.

O’Brien, K.L., L. Sygna and J. Wolf (eds) (2013) A Changing Environment for Human Security: Transformative Approaches to Research, Policy and Action. London: Earthscan.

O’ Brien, K.L., A. St. Clair, and B. Kristoffersen (eds) (2010) Climate Change, Ethics, and Human Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Matthews, R. A., J. Barnett, B. McDonald and K. L. O'Brien (eds) (2010) Global Environmental Change and Human Security, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

O´Brien, K. (2012) Global environmental change II. From adaptation to deliberate transformation. Progress in Human Geography 36(5): 667-676.

Leichenko, R.M. and K.L. O’Brien (2008) Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures. New York: Oxford University Press

O’Brien, K.L. et al. (2007) Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses. Climate Policy 7: 73-88.

O’Brien, K. et al. (2004) Mapping vulnerability to multiple stressors: Climate change and economic globalization in IndiaGlobal Environmental Change 14(4): 303-313.

O’Brien, K.L., L. Sygna and J.E. Haugen (2004) Vulnerable or resilient? A multi-scale assessment of climate impacts and vulnerability in NorwayClimatic Change 64: 193-225.

Leichenko, R. and K. O’Brien (2002) The dynamics of rural vulnerability to global change: The case of Southern AfricaMitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 7: 1-18.

O’Brien, K. and R. Leichenko (2000) Double exposure: Assessing the impacts of climate change within the context of economic globalizationGlobal Environmental Change 10(3): 221-232.

  • O'Brien, Karen & Milkoreit, Manjana (2022). Climate Politics and Social Change: What Can Cognitive and Quantum Approaches Offer? . In Der Derian, James & Wendt, Alexander (Ed.), Quantum International Relations: A Human Science for World Politics. Oxford University Press. ISSN 9780197568248. p. 127–152. doi: https%3A/doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780197568200.001.0001.
  • Sæther, Bjørnar & O'Brien, Karen (2022). "The hottest summer ever!": exploring vulnerability to climate change among grain producers in Eastern Norway. In Bankoff, Greg & Hilhorst, Dorothea (Ed.), Why vulnerability still matters. Routledge. ISSN 9781032113432. p. 222–237.
  • Bentz, Julia; O'Brien, Karen & Scoville-Simonds, Morgan (2022). Beyond ‘blah blah blah’: Exploring the ‘how’ of transformation. Sustainability Science. ISSN 1862-4065. doi: 10.1007/s11625-022-01123-0.
  • Vogel, Coleen & O'Brien, Karen (2021). Getting to the Heart of Transformation. Sustainability Science. ISSN 1862-4065. doi: 10.1007/s11625-021-01016-8. Full text in Research Archive
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Reflecting on the Anthropocene: The Call for Deeper Transformations. Ambio. ISSN 0044-7447. 50(10), p. 1793 –1797. doi: 10.1007/s13280-020-01468-9. Full text in Research Archive
  • Leichenko, Robin; Gram-Hanssen, Irmelin & O'Brien, Karen (2021). Teaching the “how” of transformation. Sustainability Science. ISSN 1862-4065. doi: 10.1007/s11625-021-00964-5.
  • Fazey, Ioan; Schäpke, Niko; Rosenberg, Milda Nordbø; Caniglia, Guido; O'Brien, Karen & Hodgson, Anthony [Show all 40 contributors for this article] (2020). Transforming knowledge systems for life on Earth: Visions of future systems and how to get there. Energy Research & Social Science. ISSN 2214-6296. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101724. Full text in Research Archive
  • Leichenko, Robin M. & O'Brien, Karen (2020). Teaching climate change in the Anthropocene: An integrative approach. Anthropocene. ISSN 2213-3054. 30:100241, p. 1–4. doi: 10.1016/j.ancene.2020.100241. Full text in Research Archive
  • Shrivastava, Paul; Stafford Smith, Mark; O'Brien, Karen & Szolnai, Laszlo (2020). Transforming Sustainability Science to Generate Positive Social and Environmental Change Globally. One Earth. ISSN 2590-3330. 2(4), p. 329–340. doi: 10.1016/j.oneear.2020.04.010. Full text in Research Archive
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Towards an Integrative Discourse on Climate Change. Dialogues in Human Geography. ISSN 2043-8206. 9(1), p. 33–37. doi: 10.1177/2043820619829933.

View all works in Cristin

  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). You Matter More Than You Think: Quantum Social Change for a Thriving World. cCHANGE Press. ISBN 978-82-691819-5-1. 179 p.

View all works in Cristin

  • O'Brien, Karen & Pavel, Paloma (2022). Breakthrough Communities. [Internet]. Cities & Society [Podcast].
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). 144. Karen O’Brien on Quantum Social Change & Mattering More Than We Think. [Internet]. The RegenNarration Podcast.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Pathways for June 26, 2022: You Matter More Than You Think – Karen O’Brien. [Radio]. Pathways Radio by Paul O'Brien [Podcast].
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). #37 - Quantum Social Change, med Karen O'Brien. [Radio]. Dekodet [Podcast].
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). En 30 dagers utfordring – for klima. [Internet]. NRK.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Karen O’Brien: – Det er ikke CO2-utslippene som er det største problemet. [Newspaper]. Aftenposten A Magasinet.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). – Jeg tror det er et paradigmeskifte på vei. [Internet]. Forskerforum.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Karen O’Brien skal lede utredning for FNs naturpanel. [Internet]. Universitet i Oslo.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Fractals of Change: The Role of Agency in Transformations to Sustainability.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Taking the Urgency seriously: You matter more than you think.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Transformations to Sustainability: What are they and how do we make them happen?
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). The Challenge of Global Change: How do we Transform? .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Transformations to Sustainability.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Importas más de lo que crees! .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Climate Change: It’s a Relationship Problem.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). The Human Dimensions: They matter more than you think!
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Climate Change and Sustainability: Three Spheres of Transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Sustainability: You Matter More Than You Think!
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Transformative Change and Biodiversity: Integrating the Practical, Political, and Personal Spheres of Transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Transformative Change: Integrating the practical, political, and personal spheres of transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Quantum Social Change: You Matter More Than You Think .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Hope for the Paris Agreement? You matter more than you think! .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Transformations to Sustainability: You Matter More Than You Think! .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2022). Quantum Social Change: You Matter More Than You Think! [Keynote].
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). DF #21for21 - #8 - Karen O'Brien. [Internet]. Digital Society School [Podcast].
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Conversations with Michael & Karen O'Brien ~Climate and Society: Transforming the Future. [Radio]. WE Earth Radio: Conversations That Make A ... [Podcast].
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Karen O'Brien ~You Matter More Than You Think: Quantum Social Change For A Thriving World. [Radio]. WE Earth Radio: Conversations That Make A ... [Podcast].
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Møtereferat: En aften som skal snu opp-ned på tankemønstre. [Newspaper]. Morgenbladet.
  • O'Brien, Karen; Bjordam, Tone; Cooper, Lisa & Skadal, Martin (2021). Book Launch: "You Matter More Than You Think".
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Climate Change: It’s A Relationship Problem.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Climate Change: It’s A Relationship Problem.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Quantum social change.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Climate Change: We Matter More Than We Think.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Transformative Change.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Dekolonisering av paradigmer. In Ossavy, Nina & Kolbenstvedt, Marius (Ed.), Naturtro. Om å dekolonisere naturen.. Iris forlag. ISSN 9788293359265. p. 67–68.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). You Matter More Than You Think: Quantum Social Change for a World in Crisis.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Accelerating Action on Climate Change: Engaging with the practical, political, and personal spheres of transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Transforming to reach the 1.5℃ target.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Transformative Change: Integrating the practical, political, and personal spheres of transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Integrative Approaches to Transformations.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Education for Transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Democracy and Change.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). You Matter More Than You Think: Climate change, Social change, and The Humanities in the 21st Century.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Social and Cultural Values and Fractal Perspectives.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Transformation in Action.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Relationship matter.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). The Three Spheres of Transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Political Agency for Transformations: What does it take?
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Governing Transformations: It’s All About Relationships.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). From Problems to Solutions: Engaging People in Transformations to Sustainability.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2021). Looking into the Crystal Ball: What Does the Future Hold for the Cultural Environments.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Just Transformations: How can ideas of transformation be integrated into possible pathways and corridors to a safe and just future?
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). A springboard in the transition to a low emission society.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Paneldebatt: Hvordan lager vi en klimapolitikk som oppleves som rettferdig?
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Fractals Matter.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Agency Matters.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Quantum Social Change.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Transforming the Future.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). The Adaptive Challenge of Sustainable Development: Looking beyond a purely technical approach.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Education for Transformation: The significance of paradigms, politics, and practices.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Transformational Leadership for Sustainability .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Taking the Climate Crisis Seriously: Three Spheres of Transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Education for Transformation: Whose Values and Visions are Shaping the Future? .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). En helhetlig tilnærming til mobilitetsomstilling: Det handler om transformasjon.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). The Decade that Matters: Taking Transformations to Climate Change and Transformations to Sustainability Seriously.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Education for transformation: Aligning values and visions for a sustainable future.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Forskere mener vi ikke lenger kan stole på at teknologien skal redde klimaet. [Internet]. Forskning.no.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). Transformative Change at a Global Scale: From Understanding to Action.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2020). It’s a Relationship Problem: Addressing Biodiversity Loss, Climate Change, Inequality, and Global Pandemics.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). 006 Karen O'Brien - Climate Change and Societal Transformation. [Internet]. State of Emergence [Podcast].
  • O'Brien, Karen; El Khoury, Ann; Schafenacker, Nicole & Rosenfeld, Jordan (2019). Stories of Quantum Social Change. In O'Brien, Karen; El Khoury, Ann; Schafenacker, Nicole & Rosenfeld, Jordan (Ed.), Our Entangled Future: Stories to Empower Quantum Social Change. AdaptationCONNECTS. ISSN 978-82-691819-2-0. p. 1–13.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). The Most Powerful Solution to Climate Change. [Internet]. The Regen Narration.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Climate Change and Society: Transforming the Future.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Climate Change and Societal Transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Climate Change as a Relationship Problem.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). For lite miljø på exphil-pensum. [Newspaper]. Uniforum.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Kostnaden ved å gjøre ingenting: «200 millioner mennesker vil trenge nødhjelp årlig». [Business/trade/industry journal]. Bistandsaktuelt.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). The Personal Sphere of Transformation.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). How do we transform systems? .
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). People as the most powerful solution for sustainability.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Our Entangled Future: Stories to Empower Quantum Social Change.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Transformational Leadership for Sustainability.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Transformational Change: What does it mean for Chile’s long-term decarbonization and adaptation strategies?
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Quantum Social Change.
  • O'Brien, Karen (2019). Education for transformation: Whose values and visions are shaping the future?
  • Daszak, Peter; Amuasi, John; Das Neves, Carlos G; Hayman, David; Kuiken, Thijs & Roche, Benjamin [Show all 24 contributors for this article] (2020). IPBES (2020) Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

View all works in Cristin

Published Oct. 11, 2010 2:03 PM - Last modified Aug. 20, 2020 10:42 PM