JoAnn Carmin
Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning
Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology



For over a decade, I have been studying environmental governance, both in the United States and in countries around the world. Within this broader context, much of my research examines responses that cities, communities, and NGOs have to significant issues and events such as sitings of potentially hazardous facilities, natural disasters, and climate impacts.

In my current research, I am conducting an international comparative assessment of urban climate adaptation planning. This study draws on case studies and surveys from developed and developing countries to understand what is leading cities to engage in climate adaptation planning, the considerations local governments are giving to the needs of the most vulnerable populations, and the influence that NGOs and communities have on local adaptation decisions and actions.

The overarching goal of my research is to understand how civil society actors can achieve voice in decision processes and local governments can develop environmentally sound and socially just policies and plans.

Durban, South Africa - Site of my recent research.
Photo: Debra Roberts

I received my B.S. and M.S. from Cornell University in management and organizational theory and my Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in environmental policy and planning. I received additional training at the School of Business at the University of British Columbia and in the Program on Nonprofit Organizations at Yale University. Before joining the faculty at MIT, I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech and a Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Environmental Solutions at Duke University.

I am an Associate Editor of Urban Climate and serve on the editorial boards of several additional refereed journals and scholarly presses. I work with numerous international organizations and am a Lead Author for the urban and infrastructure chapter of the U.S. National Climate Assessment and for the Working Group II contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).


77 Massachusetts Avenue, 9-320 • Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Telephone: 617.452.2697 • Fax: 617.253.7402 • Email: