Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Maxwell T. Boykoff

Research Interests

I am a CIRES Fellow, an Associate Professor in Environmental Studies with a courtesy appointment in Geography, and Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR). I am also a Deputy Editor at the journal of Climatic Change and a Senior Fellow at the University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute. My research and creative work focus on cultural politics and environmental governance, creative climate communications, science-policy interactions, and climate adaptation. Through connected projects and collaborations, I examine how climate science and policy find meaning in people’s everyday lives, and how this, in turn, feeds back into science and policy decision-making.

Current Research

My research and creative work center on two themes. One is the ‘cultural politics of science, policy, and the environment,’ which refers to how the attitudes, intentions, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals and groups shape (and are shaped by) the perceived spectrum of possible action in the context of environmental challenges such as climate change. A second is the transformations of carbon-based economies and societies, with a particular emphasis on the interface of science, sustainability, and practical action, including policies. Through many connected projects and collaborations, my research commitments involve questions of how climate science and policy find meaning in people’s everyday lives, as well as how this, in turn, feeds back into science- policy decision-making. Together, my work has sought to critically analyze the role of various actors and organizations shaping political and cultural dimensions of environmental science and policy discussions in the public arena. 
For example:
  • Through the Media and Climate Change Observatory, colleagues and I monitor media coverage of climate change at various scales, updated monthly. We have established and maintain appraisals of 82 sources across 40 countries around the world and monitor country-level coverage in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition, through collaborations with Rogelio Fernandez-Reyes in Spain, and Midori Aoyagi-Usui and Shoko Yamaguchi in Japan, we maintain country-level counts there as well. As offshoots from this work, we work with many partners (e.g., Lancet Countdown on climate change and health issues) and we have produced a number of related reports and journal articles.
  • With colleagues Beth Osnes (Theater Department) and Rebecca Safran (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department) we run a multi-faceted project called ‘Inside the Greenhouse’. This project works to deepen our understanding of how issues associated with climate change are/can be communicated, by creating artifacts through interactive theatre, film, fine art, performance art, television programming, and appraising as well as extracting effective methods for multimodal climate communication. We also seek to build competence and confidence in the students with whom we work. The project effectively fosters a deliberative space for CU Boulder students to experiment with creative climate communications and build capacity for more systematic, capable and effective environmental communication strategies. As part of this project we teach numerous courses and produce seasonal events and various research outputs.

Max Boykoff in southern Zambia as part of the CSTPR and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre collaboration, working on climate adaptation and resilience. Photo: Wisford Mudenda

Max Boykoff speaking at side event at the United Nations Conference of Parties meeting on climate change (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco. Photo: Gregg Walker

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