Dr Linda Westman


Faculty of Social Sciences

Senior Research Fellow

Linda Westman
Profile picture of Linda Westman

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Dr Linda Westman
Faculty of Social Sciences
Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences (ICOSS)
219 Portobello
S1 4DP

Linda is a Senior Research Fellow at the Urban Institute. Her research revolves around environmental politics, with a focus on urban climate governance, transformations, and justice. She joined the UI in 2019.

Linda was recently awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant. PLURALIZE, a five-year project to be hosted by the UI, will explore just transitions in the context of environmental politics in China. China, as the world’s second largest economy, largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and leading producer and user of renewable energy, will shape global transition trajectories. However, the concept of just transitions has not yet gained traction within China's political system. PLURALIZE constitutes a pioneering attempt to bring together philosophical principles, historical analysis, contemporary policy, and foreign investment flows to explore just transitions in urban China. The project not only seeks to expand the geographical scope of just transitions research, but to construct a new theoretical toolkit to reimagine just transitions in an era of geopolitical transformation.

More broadly, Linda’s work sits within the UI Climate Urbanism theme. Prior to PLURALIZE, she has worked as a researcher on the ERC-funded project LO-ACT (https://www.loactproject.com/), which examines urban climate imaginaries in international policy and climate innovation in ordinary cities in the Global South. 

Together with Vanesa Castán Broto, Linda has published Urban sustainability and justice: Just sustainabilities and environmental planning (ZEB Books), which examines sustainability and justice in cities with an emphasis on postcolonial and feminist scholarship. Linda is chapter scientist and contributing author of Chapter 6 of the IPCC Assessment Report 6. She is also co-founder of the Urban Working Group of the Earth System Governance network. 

Research interests

Standing at the brink of a global environmental crisis, the days of business as usual in environmental politics are over. Far-reaching interventions are required to address the global climate breakdown. However, such actions will inevitably bring deep social impacts. Linda’s research examines various components of the governance and politics of climate action, including dynamics of transformation and multiple dimensions of justice. In particular, her current work seeks to interrogate the epistemological foundations of environmental justice theory and explore emerging conceptual directions in dialogue with feminist and decolonial scholars.

Linda’s recent work involves documenting the evolution of urban imaginaries in international climate policy. This research points to the homogeneity of current climate discourse, including the limited possibilities to deliver transformative action from within dominant policy rationales. Overall, Linda’s work on international climate policy is transversed by a concern with the political economic arrangements that sustain international relations and the reproduction of hegemonic symbolic orders even through policy narratives that seek radical change.

Linda’s previous research has examined empirical and conceptual perspectives of urban climate governance. This includes the role of private sector actors in sustainability politics and environmental governance dynamics in cities in China. In particular, her research has questioned the application of theoretical frameworks and concept developed within Europe and North America (e.g., partnerships, multilevel governance, transitions, justice) in this political setting.