Ken Conca

Professor, Department of Environment, Development, and Health

Ken Conca is a professor of International Relations in the School of International Service at American University. His research and teaching focus on global environmental politics, with an emphasis on water, environmental peacebuilding, the politics of resilience, environmental human rights, and the United Nations. His work has been recognized with several major awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize for Ideas Improving World Order, the Al-Moumin Award for thought leadership in environmental peacebuilding, the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for best book on international environmental affairs, and the Chadwick Alger Prize for best book in the field of International Organization. Dr. Conca was a founding member of the UN Environment Programme’s Expert Advisory Group on Conflict and Peacebuilding and served on the Scientific Steering Committee on Global Environmental Change and Human Security. He has addressed UN ambassadors on the links between climate change and violent conflict and gave expert remarks for the International Law Commission as it developed articles for a treaty on protecting the environment in the context of armed conflict.
Dr. Conca’s most recent books are An Unfinished Foundation: The United Nations and Global Environmental Governance (Oxford), The Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy (Oxford), and Advanced Introduction to Water Politics (Edward Elgar). His current book project focuses on the politics of flood resilience in Ellicott City, a small town battered by two “thousand year” rainfall events within two years. He earned his Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley.

Current Projects

  After the Floods: The Search for Resilience in Ellicott City

  Charting new pathways to peace: A systematic, comparative analysis of environmental peacebuilding conditions, mechanisms, and outcomes (funded by the United States Institute of Peace)

  Adapting to new dimensions of conflict risk in international river basins

• Environmental peacebuilding theory and practice: Growth, diffusion and controversy.


Lead Faculty, Earth System Governance Project

Advisory board member, New Security Beat blog

Woodrow Wilson Center Advisory committee

Water Security initiative

EcoPeace Middle East Education Interest group

Environmental Peacebuilding Association