Jeannie Sowers

Jeannie Sowers

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy

Jeannie Sowers is a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. She is also professor and chair of the Political Science Department at the University of New Hampshire, where she researches and teaches in environmental politics and comparative politics, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2021-22, Sowers was a Faculty Leave Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University, where she co-edited the “Oxford Handbook of Comparative Environmental Politics“; co-wrote a chapter on “Environment and War”; and continued working on a monograph titled “War, Infrastructure, and Humanitarianism in the Middle East”, co-authored with Erika Weintal. Under contract with Oxford University Press, the book analyzes the targeting of civilian and environmental infrastructures in protracted conflicts, drawing on fieldwork and an original dataset.

Sowers’ first book, “Environmental Politics in Egypt: Experts, Activists, and the State” (Routledge Series in Middle Eastern Politics, 2012), compared efforts by environmental networks to mobilize reforms across environmental policy areas. Case studies included urban land use conflicts, protected area management, industrial pollution control, and the evolution of national regulatory institutions. The book was awarded runner-up for the Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for the best book in international environmental politics by the Environmental Studies Section, International Studies Association. Her other books include “Modern Egypt: What Everyone Needs to Know” (Oxford University Press, 2018), co-authored with Bruce Rutherford, and the co-edited “Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest, and Social Change in Egypt” (Verso, 2012). Her articles on environment and climate politics, political economy, protracted conflict and infrastructure, and comparative development issues have been published in International Affairs, Security Dialogue, Climatic Change, Development and Change, International Environmental Agreements, the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Middle East Report, and Current History, among others.

Before pursuing a career in academia, Sowers held several public policy positions. She worked after college as a legislative assistant with the D.C. law firm Reno, Cavanaugh, and Hornig, and subsequently represented paper recycling companies in California as director of the Association of California Recycling Industries in Los Angeles, CA. While in graduate school, she worked at the Congressional Research Service as a Middle East analyst, where she wrote on U.S. foreign policy towards Egypt and the Israel-Palestine conflict. As a program officer with the Stanley Foundation, she developed their U.S. and the Muslim World Program in 2004-05.

In 2020-21, she served as an advisory board member for the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ project, “Sustainable States: Environment, Governance and the Future of the Middle East,” and is currently a Mercator Fellow for a project titled “Renewable Energies, Renewed Authoritarianisms? The Political Economy of Solar Energy Projects in the Middle East and North Africa,” funded by the German Research Foundation.

Sowers holds a bachelor’s from Harvard University, and a master’s and doctorate from Princeton University. She studied political economy and Indian politics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India on a post-graduate Rotary Scholarship, held a Fulbright-funded fellowship as a CASA III scholar in Cairo, and was a senior associate fellow at the Middle East Centre at Oxford University.  Her research has been funded by the Dubai Initiative at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, the American Council of Overseas Research Centers, and the Institute for the Study of World Politics, among others.


American Political Science Association, member
Environmental Peacebuilding Association, Water Interest Group member
International Studies Association, Environmental Studies Section, executive committee
Middle East Studies Association, member

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Comparative politics
    • Environment and climate politics
  • Current Positions

    • Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, University of New Hampshire
  • Past Positions

    • Director, International Affairs Program, University of New Hampshire
    • Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of New Hampshire
    • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of New Hampshire
  • Education

    • Ph.D., Princeton University, 2003
    • M.A., Princeton University, 1997
    • B.A., Harvard University, 1989
  • Languages

    • Arabic (proficient in modern standard and Egyptian colloquial)
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