Timmons Roberts

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Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development

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He was a James Martin 21st Century Professor at Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute in 2006-2007, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations 2007-2009 at the College of William and Mary, where he also directed the Program in Environmental Science and Policy from 2001 to 2006. His 1992 Sociology Ph.D. was from Johns Hopkins University in the Program in Comparative International Development. His B.A. was in Biology (with research in tropical and temperate ecology) from Kenyon College. He directed Brown University's Center for Environmental Studies from 2009 to 2012.

His current research has three threads: 1. How shifting relations between the global North and South affect the United Nations negotiations on climate change, and vice versa; 2. The role of foreign aid in the climate negotiations, and how aid is being transformed by the need to assist developing countries cope with climate impacts and green their economies; and 3. What social factors explain national "pathways of economic development" (whether nations are relatively high or low carbon emitters for their level of human development). In all three research threads his core focus is on how equity affects our ability to address the "wickedly" complex global commons problem of climate change.

Roberts' engagement work is global, national, and local. A co-founder of AidData.org while at the College of William and Mary, Timmons is part of an international effort to produce a quantum leap in transparency in development finance. During the past five years, Timmons has led the AidData group in building tools for tracking climate finance. His Climate and Development Lab at Brown provides research support to the Least Developed Countries Group (the world's 48 poorest nations) in the U.N. climate negotiations. He is a leader in Rhode Island's efforts to plan for how to adapt to climate changes. He serves as a working group co-chair on the Rhode Island Climate Change Commission, created in 2010 by legislation written by him and his Brown students. Professor Roberts has worked for many years with students on greening initiatives and with community groups and local, state and national governments. He teaches environmental sociology, globalization and the environment, and practicum group workshop courses on environmental policy issues. Most recently, Timmons was appointed to the Board on Environmental Change and Society of the National Academy of Sciences.