Center for Global Ethics: George Mason University

Andrew Light

Light Photo

Areas of Specialization

Philosophy and public policy (especially international governance, the role of moral principles in policy deliberation, and risk analysis), environmental ethics and policy (especially climate change mitigation and adaptation, restoration ecology, and terrestrial biodiversity), and the ethics of emerging technologies (especially nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and geoengineering


Andrew Light is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy and Director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he works primarily on international climate and science policy.

Light is an internationally recognized expert on the relationship between environmental policy and ethics and on the social dimensions of emerging technologies. He is the author of 76 articles and book chapters, and has authored, co-authored, and edited 17 books including Environmental Values (2008), Philosophy and Design (2008), Controlling Technology (2005), Environmental Ethics (2003), Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice (2003), Technology and the Good Life? (2000), and Environmental Pragmatism (1996). He is currently working on a book on the moral dimensions of restoration ecology in a changing climate.

His doctoral work was at the University of California at Riverside and he completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in environmental risk assessment in the School of Medicine at the University of Alberta, Canada. Before moving to Washington, D.C., he taught at the University of Montana, SUNY Binghamton, New York University, and the University of Washington, Seattle. Light is a frequent advisor to various agencies on environmental and technology policy, including the State Department, DOE, U.S. Forest Service, the National Parks Service, 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-editor of the journal Ethics, Policy, and Environment.

Recent Presentations

"Finding a Future for Climate Ethics." Environmental Humanities Project. Stanford University. October 31, 2011. [Video available soon]

"A Conversation between Andrew Light and Johnathan Moreno on Moreno's new book The Body Politic:  The Battle Over Science in America." Center for American Progress. October 21, 2011. [Video]

"'Use It or Lose It': A Governance Proposal for Geoengineering" (keynote address). In the workshop Ethical Issues in Engineering Biological and Ecological Systems. Northeastern University, Boston. October 1, 2011.

"Sustainable Climate Ethics -- Moving from Mitigation to International Finance." Environmental Studies Colloquium. University of Colorado at Boulder. September 7, 2011. [Video available soon]

"Building on the Building Blocks:  Possibilities and Pitfalls on the Road to Durban." In the workshop Designing Just Institutions for Global Climate Governance. Australia National University, Canberra. June 30, 2011.

"Should We Intentionally Create Novel Ecosystems in Response to Climate Change?" Novel Ecosystems Workshop. Pendar Island, Victoria (University of Victoria). May 23-26, 2011.

"International Climate Ethics in a Time of Uncertain Climate Policy." Boston Colloquium on the Philosophy of Science. Boston University. April 15, 2011. [Video]

 "How to Risk a Culture War: Deep Disagreements from Biotechnology to Synthetic Biology." Press Release. Department of Philosophy, Denison University. April 8, 2011.

"American Climate Politics:  Threat or Role Model." Cogito Green Foundation. Stockholm, Sweden.  March 9, 2011. [Video]

"American Perspectives on Global Climate Talks." Announcement. University of Lund, Sweden. March 11, 2011.

"U.S. Climate Policy on the Road to Cancun." Singapore International Energy Week. November 2, 2011.

"Getting Ahead of the Curve: Responsible Governance for Geoengineering." In the workshop The Ethics of Geoengineering: Investigating the Challenges of Solar Radiation Management. University of Montana, Missoula. October 18-30, 2010. [Video interview] [Video of plenary The Ethics of Solar Radiation Management]

"Why the World Needs Climate Action." Global Climate Network roundtable discussion. Center for American Progress, Washington, DC. July 22, 2010. [Video]