Interview series: Professor Frank Fischer

Professor Frank Fischer joins IPPA for an interview discussing his academic journey and research interests. In the video, Fischer discusses his contributions on climate change and environmental policy, the role of experts, participatory governance, and the argumentative turn. He was interviewed in Singapore by PhD candidate Lili Li.



In this video interview, Professor Frank Fischer discusses his book, Climate Crisis, and the Democratic Prospect: Participatory Governance in Sustainable Communities (Oxford University Press 2017).  Fundamental to the book is a difficult question: Can contemporary democratic governments tackle the climate crisis?  Some argue that democracy has to be a central part of a strategy to deal with climate change.  Others argue that experience shows it not to be up to the challenge in the time frame available—that is, it will require a stronger hand, even a form of eco-authoritarianism.  A question that does not lend itself to an easy assessment, Climate Crisis seeks to draw out and assess the competing answers.


While the book supports the case for environmental democracy, it argues that establishing and sustaining democratic practices will be difficult during the global climate turmoil ahead, especially in the face of states of emergency.  This inquiry undertakes a search for an appropriate political-ecological strategy for preserving a measure of democratic governance during hard times.  Without ignoring the global dimensions of the crisis, the analysis finds an alternative path in the theory and practices of participatory environmental governance embodied in growing relocalization movements, and global eco-localism generally.  Although such movements largely operate under the radar of the social science, the media, and the political realm generally, these vibrant socio-ecological movements not only speak to the crisis ahead but are already well established and thriving on the ground, including ecovillage, eco-communes, eco-neighborhoods, and local transitions initiatives.  With the help of these ideas and projects, the task is to influence the discourses of environmental politics and policy theory in ways that can be of assistance to those who will face climate crisis in its full magnitude.



Frank Fischer has been a Distinguished Professor of Politics and Global Affairs at Rutgers University in the USA. Since 2016 he has worked as a research scholar in the department of political sociology and the Albrecht Daniel Thaer Institute of Humboldt University in Berlin and is associated with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam. He is a co-editor of the Critical Policy Studies journal, co-editor of the book series on Advancing Critical Policy Studies, and editor of the Handbook of Policy Research Series for Edward Elgar Publishing. In addition to widely lecturing around the world on environmental politics, democratic participation, and deliberative policy analysis, he has published 17 books and numerous essays. These include Technocracy and the Politics of Expertise (Sage 1990), Evaluating Public Policy (Wentworth 1995), Citizens, Experts and the Environment (Duke 2000), Reframing Public Policy: Discursive Politics and Deliberative Practices (Oxford 2003), Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics and Methods, co-edited with Mara Sidney and Gerald Miller (Taylor and Francis 2006), Democracy and Expertise: Reorienting Policy Inquiry (Oxford 2009), The Argumentative Turn Revisited: Public Policy as Communicative Practice, co-edited with Herbert Gottweis (Duke 2012), the Handbook of Critical Policy Studies, co-edited with Douglas Torgerson, Anna Durnova and Michael Orsini (Elgar 2015) and Climate Crisis and the Democratic Prospect (Oxford 2017). In addition to research in the United States and Germany, he has conducted field research in India, Nepal and Thailand on citizen participation and local ecological knowledge. He has also received numerous awards, including the Harold Lasswell, Charles Taylor, and Aaron Wildavsky Awards for contributions to the field policy studies.




Fischer, F. and Forester, J. (Eds.) (1993) The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis and Planning. Durham, Duke University.


Fischer, F. (2003) Citizens, Experts, and the Environment: The Politics of Local Knowledge. Durham, Duke University.


Fischer, F. and Gottweis, H. (Eds.) (2012) The Argumentative Turn Revisited: Public Policy as Communicative Practice. Durham, Duke University.


Fischer, F. (2017) Climate Crisis and the Democratic Prospect. Participatory Governance in Sustainable Communities. Oxford, Oxford University Press