Joshua Chad Gellers

University of North Florida
Political Science and Public Administration

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Jacksonville, FL
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My research lies at the intersection of comparative politics and international relations, and focuses on the origins and efficacy of instruments of environmental governance. This area of inquiry is informed by political science and socio-legal studies, specifically comparative legal institutions, democratic theory, development politics, environmental policy, human rights, and international relations theory. My work confronts questions such as: What factors influence the design of environmental law and policy? How do domestic and international politics impact the effectiveness of environmental laws and the pursuit of environmental justice? How does participation in environmental decision-making affect the accountability and legitimacy of domestic and international institutions? I employ mixed methods to address these important queries. My work explores the tensions between promoting democracy in a world of multi-level governance, safeguarding the environment, developing national economies, and protecting human rights. My goal is to provide a better understanding of the ways in which environmental law and policy grapples with and seeks to accommodate competing demands and external stressors in a world of increasing complexity and environmental change. My current projects analyze the relationship between environmental conditions and foreign investment in the developing world.

Gellers, Josh. 2016. “Crowdsourcing Global Governance: Sustainable Development Goals, Civil Society, and the Pursuit of Democratic Legitimacy.” International Environmental Agreements. 16 (3):415-432.
Abstract: To what extent can crowdsourcing help members of civil society overcome the democratic deficit in global environmental governance? In this paper, I evaluate the utility of crowdsourcing as a tool for participatory agenda-setting in the realm of post-2015 sustainable development policy. In particular, I analyze the descriptive representativeness (e.g., the degree to which participation mirrors the demographic attributes of non-state actors comprising global civil society) of participants in two United Nations orchestrated crowdsourcing processes—the MY World survey and e-discussions regarding environmental sustainability. I find that there exists a perceptible demographic imbalance among contributors to the MY World survey and considerable dissonance between the characteristics of participants in the e-discussions and those whose voices were included in the resulting summary report. The results suggest that although crowdsourcing may present an attractive technological approach to expand participation in global governance, ultimately the representativeness of that participation and the legitimacy of policy outputs depend on the manner in which contributions are solicited and filtered by international institutions.
DOI: 10.1007/s10784-016-9322-0
Gellers, Josh. 2016. “The Great Indoors: Linking Human Rights and the Built Environment.” Journal of Human Rights and the Environment. 7 (2):243-261.
Abstract: It is widely held that environmental rights are conceived as legal guarantees intended to protect individuals from environmental harms and improve the quality of the environment. However, thus far much of the scholarly attention paid to environmental rights has focused on their application to the natural environment. I argue that, in conjunction with international human rights regarding housing, health, and water and sanitation, environmental rights should apply to the built environment as well. Through an analysis of international law, case law and scientific evidence, I demonstrate that protecting indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is necessary to the full realization of health, housing, water and sanitation, and environmental rights. This argument has three important implications. First, it provides victims of indoor environmental harms with a rights-based mechanism for redressing their grievances. Second, it makes a strong case for the inclusion of green building development in efforts to protect environmental rights throughout the world. Third, by directing policymakers to specific, measurable steps that can be taken to protect environmental rights, it refutes the charge that such rights are too ambiguous to be successfully implemented.
DOI: 10.4337/jhre.2016.02.03
Gellers, Joshua C. 2015. "Constitutional Environmentalism in South Asia: Analyzing the Experiences of Nepal and Sri Lanka." Transnational Environmental Law 4 (2):395-423.
Abstract: Why do some countries adopt constitutional environmental rights while others do not? This article uses qualitative content analysis of interviews conducted in Kathmandu (Nepal) and Colombo (Sri Lanka) to analyze the cases of Nepal, which adopted a constitutional environmental right in the 2007 Interim Constitution, and Sri Lanka, which has not enacted such a right in any of its governing charters. It finds that the presence of a constitutional environmental right in Nepal and the absence of such a right in Sri Lanka can be best explained directly with reference to domestic political conditions and structures, and indirectly in terms of the international normative environment in which the constitution was written. The article outlines a research agenda which focuses on evaluating the impacts of constitutional environmental rights. This research provides important insights into the process of constitutional design in developing states and the translation of international norms in domestic contexts.
Gellers, Joshua C. 2015. "Greening Critical Discourse Analysis: Applications to the Study of Environmental Law." Critical Discourse Studies 12 (4):483-492.
Abstract: While scholars have expended great effort analyzing environmental discourse and applying a critical lens to environmental law, scant work has used critical discourse analysis (CDA) to study environmental law. This is surprising given the rising prominence of CDA and the continued development of critical environmental law scholarship. The present article seeks to correct for this oversight by highlighting the particularities of environmental law which compel the use of CDA, and outlining a method by which social science researchers can use CDA to understand the role of power in the domain of environmental law.
DOI: 10.1080/17405904.2015.1023326
Gellers, Joshua C. 2015. "Explaining the Emergence of Constitutional Environmental Rights: A Global Quantitative Analysis." Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 6 (1):75-97.
Abstract: While the growing trend towards constitutional enactment of environmental rights has mainly been discussed in normative and descriptive terms, few scholars have endeavoured to explain the phenomenon in a systematic fashion and none have approached the subject from the perspective of international relations (IR). In this article, I seek to correct for this theoretical gap and augment the existing understanding of this global development in constitutional design. Using survival analysis, I examine normative, rationalist-materialist, and domestic politics explanations for the phenomenon observed. I find that the adoption of constitutional environmental rights is significantly associated with international civil society influence, human rights legacy, and level of democracy, and best explained by theories of domestic politics and norm socialization. This research suggests that the emergence of constitutional environmental rights signals a major shift in the international normative arena.
URL: http://
DOI: 10.4337/jhre.2015.01.04
McLarty, Dustin, Davis, Nora, Gellers, Joshua, Nasrollahi, Nasrin, and Altenbernd, Erik. 2014. "Sisters in Sustainability: Municipal Partnerships for Social, Environmental, and Economic Growth." Sustainability Science 9 (3):277-292.
Abstract: While debates about sustainable development tend to focus on national- and international-scale problems, sustainability programs and research generally focus on the regional, county, municipal, or even household level. Less research has focused on evaluating the benefits of pairing two cities (i.e., sister city partnerships) with different needs and capabilities to jointly enhance the potential for sustainable practices between the cities. Given shrinking state and federal budgets and the nascent national climate policy, how might US cities use existing resources to achieve greater levels of sustainability? This paper presents a new data-driven mathematical tool—the partnership assessment for intra-regional sustainability—that city planners can use to explore the prospects for improving sustainability practices by leveraging existing resources and establishing synergistic partnerships with neighboring cities. The efficacy of the tool is assessed through the presentation of a Southern California case study and the results of a psychological survey of Southern California residents. Results indicate that cities of different size and scale would benefit from synergistic sustainability programs that pool the resources and needs of both cities. The paper concludes with a discussion of potential societal implications, methodological issues, and barriers to implementation.
DOI: 10.1007/s11625-014-0248-6
Gellers, Josh. 2012. "Review of Kerri Woods, Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability," 2010, International Environmental Agreements 12 (2):211-214.
Gellers, Josh. 2011. “Righting Environmental Wrongs: Assessing the Role of Legal Systems in Redressing Environmental Grievances.” Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation 26 (2):461-492.
Gellers, Josh. 2012. “Greening Constitutions with Environmental Rights: Testing the Isomorphism Thesis.” Review of Policy Research 29 (4):522-542.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1541-1338.2012.00574.x
Gellers, Josh. 2010. "Review of Oran R. Young, Leslie A. King, and Heike Schroeder (Eds.), 'Institutions and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers.'" International Environmental Agreements 10 (1):85-87.

Substantive Focus:
Law and Policy SECONDARY
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
International Relations

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY