Andrew Light

Andrew Light
Research Team

Philosophy and Public Policy

Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy
George Mason University


Andrew Light is Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy, and Director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at George Mason University. He is currently on leave, serving as a Senior Adviser to the Special Envoy on Climate Change in the U.S. Department of State, where, among other priorities, he leads efforts on the U.S.-India bilateral relationship on cliamate change and the climate track of the post-2015 development agenda. Most recently he was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. (CAP), where he organized and developed CAP’s work on international climate and energy policy, serving as chief adviser on these issues to CAP’s founder and chairman, John Podesta. During this period he authored 11 major reports and over a hundred columns and editorials.

In addition to his current work on climate policy, Light is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of the scientific and moral dimensions of environmental policy. He is the author of over 85 scholarly articles and book chapters, and has authored, co-authored, and edited 17 books including Environmental Values (2008), Controlling Technology (2005), Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (2003), Technology and the Good Life? (2000), and Environmental Pragmatism (1996).

Before moving to Washington, D.C. in 2008 he held a variety of joint and interdisciplinary positions, most recently as Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, Seattle, and Director of the graduate program in Environmental Conservation at New York University. Light has been a frequent adviser to various agencies on environmental and technology policy, including the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico and is co-founder and editor of the journal Ethics, Policy, and Environment.


BA (’89), History, Political Science, and Philosophy, Mercer University
MA (’92), Philosophy, University of California, Riverside
PhD (’96), Philosophy, University of California, Riverside
Post-Doctoral Fellow ('95-'97), Environmental Risk Assessment, University of Alberta

Selected Publications: 

Light, A. and Taraska, G.  (Forthcoming, 2014). Climate Change, Adaptation, and Climate-Ready Development Assistance. Environmental Values.

Light, A., James, A. and Hernandez, M. (2013). 40x35:  A Zero Carbon Target for the World’s Largest Economies.<> Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress, March 2013.

Light, A. (2013).  Beyond Durban:  A New Agenda for Climate Ethics. In Justice, Sustainability, and Security:  Global Ethics for the 21st Century, ed. E. Heinze.  Palgrave Macmillan.

Light, A. (2013). An Equity Hurdle in International Climate Negotiations. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, Vol. 31, No.1. <>

Light, A., Thompson, A. & Higgs, E. (2013).  Valuing Novel Ecosystem. In Novel Ecosystems:  Intervening in the New Ecological World Order, eds. R. Hobbs, E. Higgs, and C. Hall. Blackwell. <>

Light, A (2012).  Environment and Immigration. In Debates on Immigration, eds. J. Gans, E. Replogle, and D. Tichenor. Sage Publishers.

Light, A. (2012).  Finding a Future for Environmental Ethics. The Ethics Forum / Les Ateliers de l’éthique, Vol. 7, No. 3.

Light, A., O'Neill, J. and Holland, A. (2012).  Varieties of Environmental Ethics. Nature:  Education, Vol. 3, No. 10.

Light, A. (2012). On the Need for Front Line Climate Ethics. In The Environment (Topics in Contemporary Philosophy), ed. B. Kabesenche, M. O’Rourke and M. Slater. MIT Press.

Light, A. (2012). The Death of Restoration? In Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future, ed. A. Thompson and J. Bendik-Keymer. MIT Press.

Light, A. (2011). Climate Ethics for Climate Action. In Environmental Ethics: What Really Matters? What Really Works?, 2nd edition, ed. D. Schmidtz and E. Willott. Oxford University Press.

Light, A., Stevenson, A. and Purvis, N. (2010). The U.S. Role in International Climate Finance:  A Blueprint for Near Term Leadership<>. Washington, D.C.:  Alliance for Climate Protection and Center for American Progress.

Light, A. (2010). Methodological Pragmatism, Pluralism, and Environmental Ethics. In Environmental Ethics: The Big Questions, ed. D. Keller. Blackwell Publishers.

Light, A. (2010). The Moral Journey of Environmentalism:  From Wilderness to Place. In Pragmatic Sustainability:  Theoretical and Practical Tools, ed. S. Moore. Routledge Press.<>

Light, A. (2009). Does a Public Environmental Philosophy Need a Convergence Hypothesis? In Nature in Common:  Environmental Ethics and the Contested Foundations of Environmental Policy, ed. B. Minteer. Temple University Press.

Light, A. (2009). Ecological Restoration:  From Functional Descriptions to Normative Prescriptions. In Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds:  Comparative Philosophical Perspectives, ed. P. Kroes and U. Krohs. MIT Press.

O'Neill, J., Holland, A. & Light, A. (2008). Environmental Values. London: Routledge Press.

Curriculum Vitae: