Katherine Morton

Professor Katherine Morton

Professor of China's International Relations

B.A (Hons). M.A, (Sussex) Ph.D. (ANU)

Contact details
Email: katherine.morton@sheffield.ac.uk
Tel: 0114 222 8418
Room: C07


Katherine Morton is a specialist on China’s International Relations with a particular focus on transnational security, global governance, environment and climate change, and international norms. Prior to her appointment at the University of Sheffield she was the Associate Dean for Research at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University and a Senior Fellow in the Department of International Relations, ANU. In the 1990s, she was Deputy Director of the East Asia Programme at the University of Sussex, England, and worked for Matsushita Electric Industrial Corporation Ltd in Osaka, Japan. Her work on China spans two decades covering various aspects of China’s modernisation drive and international engagement. She is the recipient of numerous research grants including two Ford Foundation collaborative grants on Sino-Australia Security Relations and Regional Security Challenges in the New Century. Between 2013-15 she held a Senior Membership to St Antony’s College, University of Oxford and visiting fellowships to Peking University, People’s Republic of China, and Columbia University, United States. She is currently writing a book on the likely impacts of China’s rising international status upon the evolving system of global governance. She speaks Mandarin, French, Italian, and basic Japanese.

Current Research

Research Interests: China’s International Relations; Non-Traditional Security; Global Governance; International Norms; Environment and Climate Change; the Role and Influence of Civil Society; Chinese Politics.

My research contributes to key debates on China’s re-emergence as a dominant power in the Asia region, and globally, situated at the nexus between Chinese Studies and International Relations. A central aim is to assess both the domestic and international motivations behind China’s changing role in the world and the implications for foreign policy and the study of International Relations. A particular focus is upon Chinese responses to transnational security challenges such as environmental degradation, food security, or internal conflicts that require new institutional mechanisms, forms of governance, and collective norms to regulate behaviour. Other projects include work on East Asia security relations, China’s Western Frontier, and maritime security in the East and South China seas.

Current research projects include:

  • The relationship between China’s rising international status and the future of global governance.
  • China and maritime security in East Asia.
  • Climate change and transboundary water security across the Himalayan-Hindu Kush with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other partner institutions in South Asia.

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is simply to inspire intellectual curiosity and openness to learning. I am a strong advocate of helping students to develop critical analytical skills - not teaching what to think but rather how to think – as well as encouraging new ideas and debate. Active student participation is also essential for learning. There is no such thing as a stupid question. All questions are valuable in the classroom environment, especially amongst students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds because this helps us to maintain a broader perspective. At best the experience of learning should challenge pre-existing worldviews.

Teaching Focus

At a time when China’s rising influence in the world is under intense scrutiny the study of Chinese history, politics, economy, and society is of immense importance to our future generation of scholars and practitioners. Equally important, is a deeper understanding of the richness and complexity of the Chinese experience from a global perspective. Bringing China more centrally into the study of International Relations is a challenging task, and I look forward to sharing it with students in my modules. Often some of the best ideas and new ways of thinking originate from the classroom.

Research Supervision

Mentoring is one of my most enjoyable tasks as an academic and I have a strong commitment towards high quality research supervision, focusing on cutting edge topics related to China, the East Asia region, and the field of International Relations more generally. Previous topics include The Expansion of European International Society and the Socialisation of China and Japan, The Power of an Idea: China, Responsibility, and Global Governance,’ Contentious Activism and Inter-Korean Relations, and The Irony of the Information Age: US Power and the Internet in International Relations. My Ph.D. students have taken up positions at prestigious universities and published their theses. I enthusiastically welcome applications from potential PhD students within my area of expertise.

Key Publications

(2015) ‘Learning By Doing: The Global Governance of Food Security’ in Scott Kennedy (ed.) The Dragon’s Learning Curve: Global Governance and China, Global Institutions Series, Routledge.

(2014) ‘Policy Case Study: the Environment’ in William Joseph (second edition) (ed.) Politics in China: An Introduction, Oxford University Press.

(2013) ‘China and Global Climate Policy Making: Leadership in a State of Flux’ in Huang Xiaoming and Robert Pateman (eds.) Becoming a World Power: China and the International System, Lynne Reinner Publishers.

(2013) ‘Responding to Climate Change in the Region: New Partnerships and Chinese Leadership’ in Jochen Prantl (ed) Effective Multilateralism: Through the Looking Glass of East Asia, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, St Anthony’s Series.

(2012) ‘Learning by Doing: China’s Role in the Global Governance of Food Security’ Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, Indiana University, Working Paper, 30, September.

(2011) ‘Climate Security at the Third Pole,’ Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, vol. 53, no.1, February-March.

(2010) ‘Policy Case Study: the Environment’ in William Joseph (ed.) Politics in China: An Introduction, Oxford University Press,

(2010) ‘Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival' a research report in collaboration with the Humanitarian Futures Programme at Kings College London, the Natural Hazards Centre at University College London, and Chinadialogue.

(2009) China and the Global Environment: Learning from the Past, Anticipating the Future, Lowy Institute Policy Paper.

(2009) ‘Sustainability and Underdevelopment: Complex Tradeoffs on the Tibetan Plateau’ International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability vol.5, issue 4.

(2008) ‘China and Environmental Security in the Age of Consequences’ Asia Pacific Review, vol.15, issue 2, November.

(2007) ‘Transnational Advocacy at the Grassroots in China: Potential Benefits and Risks’ in Peter Ho and Richard Louis Edmonds (eds), China’s Embedded Activism: Opportunities and Constraints of a Social Movement, Routledge.

(2007) ‘Civil Society and Marginalisation: Grassroots NGOs in Qinghai Province’ in Heather Xiaoquan Zhang, Bin Wu, and Richard Sanders (eds) Marginalisation in China: Perspectives on Transition and Globalisation, Ashgate.

(2006) ‘Surviving an Environmental Crisis: Can China Adapt?’ The Brown Journal of World Affairs, vol.XIII, issue I, Fall/Winter.

(2005) ‘The Emergence of NGOs in China and their Transnational Linkages: Implications for Domestic Reform’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 59, no.4, December.

(2005) International Aid and China’s Environment: Taming the Yellow Dragon, Routledge Studies on China in Transition, London and New York, Routledge.

Public Engagement

(2014) ‘Transnational Water Security in Asia: A Leadership Role for Rising Powers?’ China Policy Institute Blog, 2nd October.

(2014) ‘The Rights and Responsibilities of DisagreementThe China Story Journal, 21 September

(2012) ‘China’s Positive Stance on Global Food Policy’ Special Issue on Energy, Resources, and Food, East Asia Forum Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 4, October-December.

(2011) ‘China and the Future of International Norms’ Australian Strategic Policy Institute Forum, 22 June.

(2011) ‘China and Non-Traditional Security: Towards What End?’ East Asia Forum, 31 March.

(2009) ‘An Uncertain Future’, Chinadialogue online (in English and Chinese), April 28.

(2009) ‘Humanitarianism and Civil-Military Relations in a Post 9/11 World’ co-edited with Jacinta O’Hagan Keynote 10, Department of International Relations, The Australian National University. March.

Recent Papers, Public Lectures, and Roundtables

‘China and the Post-War Principled World Order’ China Institute, Workshop on China and Global Governance, 17 July 2015.

‘China and the Future of Global Governance’ Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, 29 January 2015.

‘How Ambivalent is China about Global Governance?’ Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, 27 January 2015.

‘China and Global Governance’ Public Lecture, St Antony’s College, Oxford University, 21 October 2014.

“China and the Future of Global Governance’ Joint Event School of Contemporary Chinese Studies and Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies, School of Politics and International Relations, Nottingham University, 2 October 2014.

‘Who Makes the Rules? China and Global Food Security’ and ‘China’s Maritime Power in the South and East China Seas’ TOChina Summer School, Torino World Affairs Institute, Torino, Italy, 1-2 July 2014.

Policy Roundtable with Jerome Cohen and Peter Dutton ‘East Asia and the Law of the Sea: Recent Developments’ Council on Foreign Relations, New York, United States, 29 April 2014.

Public Lecture ‘China’s Maritime Power and Disputes in the East and South China Seas’, Columbia University, United States, 28 April 2014.

Guest Lecture ‘China and the Future of Global Governance’ US Naval War College, Rhode Island, United States, 15 April 2014.

Public Lecture ‘China’s Environmental Challenges’ Torino World Affairs Institute, University of Torino, 19 March 2014.

‘China’s Rise and the Future of Global Governance’ Public Lecture, SOAS, London, 3 March 2014.

‘China and the Making of International Norms’ Guest Lecture, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, 5 February 2014.

‘China’s Maritime Power and the South China Sea’ Public Lecture, St Antony’s College, Oxford University, 15 October 2013.

Policy Roundtable with Peter Dutton ‘China’s Maritime Power’ International Institute of Strategic Studies, London, 10 October 2013.

‘Maritime Security and Regional Norms in the South China Sea’ Workshop on Cooperation and Development in the South China Sea, State Oceanic Administration, Beijing 19-20 July 2013.

‘(Moral) Intransigence and (Political) Flexibility: China’s Approach to Maritime Security’ Symposium on ‘Intersections of Power, Politics, and Conflict in Asia’ Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, 18-20 June 2013.

‘China and the Remaking of International Norms’ Fifth World Forum on China Studies, ‘China’s Modernization: Road and Prospects, Shanghai, 23-26 March 2013.