Karen O'Brien’s research focuses on 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 worldviews in transformations to sustainability. She is also interested in the potential implications of quantum social theory for climate change responses. She has participated in four IPCC reports and is on the Science Committee for Future Earth, a 10-year global change research initiative. She is also the co-founder of cCHANGE.no, a website that provides perspectives on transformation in a changing climate. Her current research projects include "Voices of the Future: Values and visions of Norwegian Youth on Responses to Climate Change and CLIMATE&BELIEFS: Exploring the relationship between belief systems and climate change adaptation.
- SOSGEO2301 - Environment and Society
- SGO3200 - Environment and Innovation
- SOSGEO4301 - Global Environmental Change
- 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, 2001-2005
- Professor in Human Geography in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, 2005
- 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.
- 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