Michael Maniates

Professor of Social Sciences
  Head of Studies, Environmental Studies
  Head of Studies, Social Science Common Curriculum

Yale-NUS College, Singapore

16 College Avenue East, # 01-220, Singapore 138527


Most people are eagerly groping for some medium, some way in which they can bridge the gap between their morals and their practices.
--Saul Alinsky



It isn't enough to exhort people to participate [in the work of building a Great Society]. We must build institutions that make participation possible, rewarding, and challenging.
--Robert Bellah



[Let us work for a world] where doing good is like falling off a log, where the natural, everyday acts of work and life accumulate into a better world as a matter of course, not as a matter of conscious altruism.
-- Paul Hawken



Reason, under pressure, often produces prudence when boldness is called for.
--Winston Churchill



Teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
Mark van Doren



We may be lost, but we're making great time.
--Yogi Berra


Who is He?

For over 25 years, Michael Maniates (abbreviated curriculum vitŠ) has worked to illuminate democratic paths to environmental sustainability.  He has co-founded two award-winning environmental organizations, directed a semester of study on a floating university, and consulted widely with colleges and universities on sustainability initiatives. He is a co-recipient of the prestigious Sprout award for the best book in global environmental affairs and has been recognized for outstanding teaching by Allegheny College and Oberlin College, two nationally ranked U.S. liberal arts colleges. In the 1980s he worked in India as a Fulbright and Smithsonian scholar on the social impacts of village-scale energy technologies, and in 1994 he launched a set of networked resources for scholars and practitioners of global environmental politics, which today serves as a primary digital resource for the field.  For many years he helped run what was then the world's largest (volume) frozen yogurt shop, in Berkeley, California.  He holds a B.S. (Conservation and Resources Studies), and an M.A. and Ph.D. (Energy and Resources), all from the University of California.  

Where is He?

Professor Maniates currently serves as Professor of Social Sciences at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, one of Asia's first liberal arts colleges.  His responsibilities include working with colleagues to build a 'next generation' program in environmental studies.  Maniates was formerly a Senior Visiting Professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.  Prior to his work at Oberlin he was Full Professor of Political Science and Environmental Science at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he served for 20 years. (His was the only active joint appointment at Allegheny that bridged the natural- and social-sciences.) Maniates is also a frequent faculty member with Semester at Sea, a study abroad program of the University of Virginia.  He has sailed on six voyages, often in leadership positions, and most recently on the Summer 2014 expedition through the Baltic.  He makes his home in Singapore with his wife and two cats.

What Is He Up To?

Research and Writing (go here for details)

Professor Maniates' scholarship and writing focuses on several overlapping areas, including: 

  • the politics and practice of sustainable consumption
  • the environmental politics of sacrifice
  • the individualization of responsibility and "conscientious consumption"
  • teaching for turbulence within environmental studies and science (ESS) programs

Additionally, Maniates and students at Yale-NUS College are collaborating on two research projects. One documents expectations about social change among students of environmental studies. The other seeks to uncover formal and informal networks of scholarship and activism around 'sustainable consumption' in southeast Asia.  


Professor Maniates participates in, offers, or is developing several classes for Yale-NUS, including the following:

  • Comparative Social Institutions and Inquiry (CSI)
  • Introduction to Environmental Studies
  • Powering the Planet: Energy, Environment, and Action
  • Systems Thinking and Analysis: Theory and Practice for the Humanist, the Natural Scientist, and the Social Scientist
  • Thinking Institutionally on a Small Planet (also know as "Environmental Regulation and Theories of the State")
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Theory and Practice of Environmental Policymaking
Consulting and Speaking

Professor Maniates is a regular consultant to colleges and universities that are building  programs in environmental studies/environmental science, or evaluating or redesigning existing programs. He is also a frequent speaker at environmental gatherings and events. A list of his speaking topics (including consumption and overconsumption, teaching for turbulence, and a new environmental politics of sacrifice), and an overview of his consulting work, are available upon request.

Thank you for visiting.  Also see this page for more on Maniates' research, writing, and work with undergraduate researchers. 


From time to time I pop up in popular or mass-market venues, including the following:

Paul Steinberg, Who Rules the Earth?: How Social Rules Shape Our Planet and Our Lives, 2015, and his parallel TEDx talk

"Thinking about going green?," in BBC Focus Magazine, January 2015

Ingrid Leman Stefanovic: Which challenge should we grapple with now?   Why Canadians should put their eggs in the environmental basket, November 2014

Semester at Sea, "Beautiful Power: Researching Wave Energy in Spain," Summer 2014

"Can Philosophy Heal the Earth?," The Graduate (The Magazine of the National University of Singapore), April - June 2014, pp. 12 - 15

Judy Montagu, "The End of Plastic Bags?", The Jerusalem Post, February 2014

James Martin and James Samels, The Sustainable University: Green Goals and New Challenges for Higher Education Leaders, 2013
Video: "Teaching for Turbulence," The Worldwatch Institute, May 2013
Video: "International Relations and Global Environmental Politics," Institute of Political Science, Muenster University, March 2013

"The Limits of Political Consumerism," The Global Food Politics blog, January 2013

"Why Changing your Light Bulbs Won't Save the Planet,' Huffington Post, July 2012

News Clip: "Toxic Teaching Tools?," Fox News Noontime, May 2011

Clive Hamilton's Requiem For a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change, 2010

 "What Would You Sacrifice for a Secure Future?," Transforming Cultures blog, 2010

Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff, 2010

Gus Speth's The Bridge at the End of the World: Capitalism, The Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, Yale University Press, 2009
Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, 2008, and his speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival in the same year
"A Future of Less," Pacific Standard Magazine, August 2008
Judith Levin's Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, 2007

Last updated 27 May 2015