Karen Siegel is head of the research group “Transformation and Sustainability Governance in South American Bioeconomies”. She holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Glasgow, an MSc in Economic and Social Studies from Aberystwyth University and an MA (Honours) in French and Politics from the University of Edinburgh. Before moving to the University of Münster she was a Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow at the University of Glasgow. Other previous work experience includes lecturing at Edinburgh Napier University where she led courses on global environmental politics, qualitative research methods and British politics in Edinburgh and Hong Kong in cooperation with Hong Kong University School of Professional and Continuing Education as well as two years in Brussels working with the European Commission and the consultancy Bernard Brunhes International and a year in Quito, Ecuador where she worked as an English teacher at the Centro de Educación Continua de la Escuela Politécnica Nacional.
Research interests and projects
- Politics of sustainable development and sustainability transitions
- Natural resource governance in the global political economy
- Bioeconomy governance
- Latin America
The SABio project examines to what extent and in which ways the development of bioeconomies in the Southern Cone of South America may support a transition to inclusive and sustainable development. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and consists of two subgroups collaborating at the interface between agricultural economics (Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Jan Börner, University of Bonn) and political science (Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Thomas Dietz, University of Münster).
The Southern Cone of South America is one of the most important world regions for the provision of bio-based feedstock worldwide with many countries in the region currently undergoing dynamic changes in various bioeconomic sectors. Despite the region’s enormous potential for sustainable bio-based transformation, promoting environmentally responsible and equitable bioeconomic change remains a major governance challenge. This project focuses on the emergence and sustainability performance of the bioeconomies of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay and aims to analyse bio-based initiatives from a political sciences and agricultural economics perspective.
The planned research seeks to inform governmental and non-governmental, including private, decision-makers in South America and beyond about entry points for action towards promoting sustainable bio-based innovation processes that safeguard rural employment and the equitable distribution of the benefits and costs of bio-based transformation. Through strong partnerships with Universities in the Southern Cone and engagement at the science-policy interface, the project will strengthen international collaboration and its impact in the study regions.
- Siegel, K.M. (2021) “Bioökonomie und Nachhaltigkeit in Südamerika: erste Einblicke aus dem SABio Projekt”, Nach(haltig)gedacht: Der Blog des Zentrums für Interdisziplinäre Nachhaltigkeitsforschung, Universität Münster.
- Siegel, K.M. (2021) “Pulp friction in the La Plata basin: The importance of natural resource governance for South American regionalism”, Journal of Environment and Development, 30(2): 172-190, doi/10.1177/1070496521998734.
- Siegel, K.M. and Bastos Lima, M.G. (2020) “When international sustainability frameworks encounter domestic politics: The Sustainable Development Goals and agri-food governance in South America”, World Development, 135, November 2020.
- Bastos Lima, M.G. and K.M. Siegel (2020) “Promoting inclusive bioeconomies? Lessons from agri-food governance and the politics of the Sustainable Development Goals in South America”, ZEF Policy Brief 37, Center for Development Research, University of Bonn (available in English, Spanish and Portuguese).
- Siegel, K.M (2020) “Los vínculos entre la gobernanza de los recursos naturales y la calidad de la democracia: una reflexión”, FLACSO Argentina, Área de Relaciones Internacionales blog.
- Siegel, K.M. (2017) Regional environmental cooperation in South America: Processes, Drivers and Constraints, Palgrave Macmillan, International Political Economy series.
- Siegel, K.M. (2017) “The nature of power in elite interviews: researching environmental politics in the Southern Cone of South America” in Crawford, G. Kruckenberg, L., Loubere, N. and Morgan, R. (eds) Understanding Global Development: Reflections on Fieldwork Experiences, SAGE Publications.
- Siegel, K.M. (2016) “Fulfilling promises of more substantive democracy? Post-neoliberalism and natural resource governance in South America” Development and Change, 47(3): 495-516; republished in virtual special issue Facing the Future: The Legacies of Post-Neoliberalism in Latin America edited by Jean Grugel and Pia Riggirozzi, April 2019.
- Siegel, K.M. (2016) “Environment, politics and governance in Latin America” European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies - Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe (102): 109-117.
- Siegel, K.M. (2016) “Can regional cooperation promote sustainable development?” in Hammet, D. and Grugel, J. (eds) The Handbook of International Development, Palgrave Macmillan
International Appointments and Collaboration
- Member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research (ZIN), University of Münster
- Member of the Brazil Centre, University of Münster
- Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance Research Alliance
- Contributing Author of 2022 SDG Mid-term Assessment, Global Goals – Research for Sustainability Project, Utrecht University, led by Frank Biermann and funded by the European Research Council
- Elected Committee Member of the Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) (2016-2020) and co-organiser of the SLAS 2017 Annual Conference
- Academic partner for staff exchange with Helena Varkkey in Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility programme “International cooperation in a changing global order: the challenges of fostering sustainable development” between the University of Malaya, Malaysia and Glasgow University, 2018-2020
- Co-Investigator on Global Challenges Research Fund project “Markets, Constitutions, and Inequality” led by Anna Chadwick (School of Law, Glasgow University), 2018-19
- Principal Investigator, Research Incentive Grant, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, “Mapping political inequality in natural resource governance: the case of agricultural land use in Uruguay”, 2017-18
- Visiting Researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA) (June-July 2018)
- Principal Investigator, Research Excellence Grant, Edinburgh Napier University, “Understanding the politics of transboundary environmental problems in the Southern Cone region”, 2015-16
- Visiting Researcher at the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) Argentina, Buenos Aires (March-June 2011)
- Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy and Fellowship of Recognising Excellence in Teaching
Invited Presentations and Public Engagement
- Invited speaker at panel debate The politics of biofuels and bioeconomy: who wins and who loses?, Stockholm Environment Institute, 17 June 2021
- Invited presentation (with Daniel Kefeli) at Consejo Nacional de Innovación, Ciencia y Tecnología (CONICYT), Uruguay “Gobernanza agroalimentaria, desarrollo sostenible y bioeconomía en Uruguay”, 31 May 2021
- 5. BioSc Symposium, Bioeconomy Science Center, 5 March 2021, invited presentation „Bioökonomie und die SDGs in Südamerika: Möglichkeiten und Herausforderungen für internationale Forschungskooperation“
- Invited presentation at Science Slam Talk im Wissenschaftsjahr 2020/21 Bioökonomie, Haus der Wissenschaft Braunschweig, 10 December 2020
- International workshop “(Post)Neoliberalism in Latin America? Ruptures, continuities and alternatives of the progressive governments”, University College London, 23 January 2020, invited speaker for public debate
- International GCRF-funded workshop “The Natural Resources Economy in South America: Extraction, Sustainability and Citizenship”, University of York, 8-9 July 2019, invited speaker of session “SDGs and Natural Resource Extraction”
- Latin American Forum 2019, University of Edinburgh, 4-5 February 2019; invited speaker and moderator of session “Neo-extractivism and Regional Development”
- Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Latin America 2018 Conference, 25 October 2018, invited speaker of session “Sustainability, Energy and Natural Resources”
- FLACSO Argentina, Buenos Aires, “Medioambiente Sustentable en América del Sur: ¿Riesgos globales y soluciones regionales?”, 22 February 2018
- Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina, “Cooperación Ambiental en el Cono Sur – procesos, impulsores y limitaciones”, 20 February 2018
- University of Edinburgh, “The rise and downfall of the left in Latin America”, 19 October 2017, Edinburgh Political Union
- Key note speaker, Postgraduate Symposium “Reflections from the Field”, University of Stirling, 5 April 2016
- Edinburgh University’s III Latin American Week, 9 February 2016 “Natural resource governance and sustainability in South America: conflicting objectives?”