Sophia Kalantzakos

Membership:  2015

Member Bio

Sophia Kalantzakos is Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy at New York University and a long-term affiliate at NYU Abu Dhabi. Her research focuses on resources and power; on new spatial imaginaries that reflect the changing ways that we think of global space and interdependence; and on the new emergent patterns and avenues of possibilist thinking as a way of re-imagining geopolitics for the 21st century. Her work, for example, has examined how the strategic value of mineral deposits for the decarbonization of the global economy and the fourth industrial revolution intersects with a changing post-carbon resource map accelerating geopolitical realignments between the developing and developed world. Her recent research unpacks the implications of the push toward the unification of Eurasia and Africa as a result of the climate emergency, China’s global aspirations illustrated through the belt and road initiative, Europe’s reckoning with a seismic push against both its normative and economic power, and the US’s re-evaluation of its leadership role in the global order. Kalantzakos’ work examines how current epistemic systems will need to give way to new modes of thinking. As nation-states are turning inward in response to demands for de-globalization even while future challenges remain intensely global, her work advances the construction of dynamic, inclusive, and action-oriented responses to the greatest challenges facing our global commons.

Kalantzakos explores the fertile tensions between modes and styles of thinking to bridge the social sciences with the humanities. She founded and heads eARThumanities, the Environmental Humanities Research Initiative at NYU Abu Dhabi. In the summer of 2020, she launched a new project entitled The Geopolitics and Ecology of Himalayan Water which addresses growing water insecurity for 2.5 billion people as the climate crisis worsens and regional power struggles becoming increasingly fraught.

Kalantzakos is President of the RCC Society of Fellows. During the academic year 2019-2020 Kalantzakos was a Fung Global Fellow at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS). In AY 2020-2021 she is a Senior Fellow in the Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology at Caltech and the Huntington (RIHST@CH).


  • China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018). Translations: Kína és a ritkaföldfémek geopolitikája (Budapest, Hungary: Pallas Athéné, 2018); Newly revised and expanded Italian translation, forthcoming (Milan, Italy: Bocconi University Press, 2021).
  • The EU, US, and China Tackling Climate Change: Policies and Alliances for the Anthropocene (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2017).
  • Energy and Environmental Transformations in a Globalizing World: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, co-edited with Nikolaos Farantouris (Athens, Greece: Nomiki Vivliothiki, 2015).
  • “Opportunities to Cooperate on New Global Challenges: Introduction”, with Asteris Huliaras in Haastrup, Toni, Luís Mah, and Niall Duggan, eds. The Routledge Handbook of EU-Africa Relations. 1 edition. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge, 2020.
  • “The Race for Critical Minerals in an Era of Geopolitical Realignments,” The International Spectator, July 22, 2020, 1–16.
  • “The Geopolitics of Critical Minerals,” IAI Papers 19/27 – December 2019.
  • “EU-Africa Relations” with Asteris Huliaras, in Sp. Blavoukos, D. Bourandonis and P. Tsakonas, EU External Relations, Athens: I. Sideris, 2019, pp. 195-210.
  • “Rethinking the Collapse of the first East African Community (1967-1977): Lessons for the EU,” with Asteris Huliaras, Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence of the University of the Peloponnese, The Jean Monnet Papers on Political Economy, 19/2019.
  • “The Gulf States and the Horn of Africa: A New Hinterland?” with Asteris Huliaras Middle East Policy, Vol. XXIV, No. 4, Winter 2017, pp. 63-73.
  • “River Rights and the Rights of Rivers: The Case of Acheloos.” In “Can Nature Have Rights? Legal and Political Insights,” edited by María Valeria Berros and Anna Leah Tabios Hillebrecht, RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society 2017, no. 6, 45–51.
  • “A Paradox in today’s Europe: Greece’s Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis,” Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence of the University of the Peloponnese, The Jean Monnet Papers on Political Economy, 15/2017.
  • “Greece and the GCC: Strengthening ties in a time of crisis” with Asteris Huliaras in Foreign Policy Under Austerity: Greece’s Return to Normality? Eds. A. Tziampiris and Sp. Litsas (Palgrave-McMillan, 2016), pp. 49-76.