Dr. Chris Rea is Assistant Professor of Public Affairs and Sociology (by courtesy) in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. Broadly, Dr. Rea (said “ray”) studies the ways that large-scale institutions and organizations shape environmental governance, politics, and regulation, with the aim of understanding and informing interventions into some of the most important issues of our time: climate change, species extinction, and environmental justice. In 2021, he founded the Rea Environment and Society Lab (RESL) to create opportunities for students to advance actionable social scientific knowledge on questions of environment, nature, governance, and justice.

A major strand of Dr. Rea’s current research weaves together insights from sociology, organizational theory, political science, environmental history, and geography to understand “environmental states” and the ways they organize environmental governance and human relationships with nature. A second and related strand of research focuses on the emergence of novel and often market-oriented governance institutions in climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation. The questions here are no less profound even if their policy manifestations are more esoteric. The basic inquiry is one into the ways that people manage and value nature, and the ways those values – cultural as much as pecuniary – shape environmental governance and justice.

Dr. Rea is a core faculty member of the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State. He was formerly a visiting researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society at Brown University, and also a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results Fellow. (Unfortunately, the EPA STAR program was shuttered in 2015.)  He is an active alumnus of the Summer Institute on Organizations and their Effectiveness at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.  A little more basically, Dr. Rea is also a teacher, an avid traveler, a cyclist, a cook, a parent, a partner, and an outdoors person.