The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Katharine Rietig

Senior Lecturer in International Politics


Dr. Katharine Rietig is Senior Lecturer in International Politics. Her research examines how the effectiveness of climate change governance can be improved. Her particular focus is on the role of learning, non-state actors and multilevel governance dynamics between countries and the United Nations, and how these dynamics facilitate policy change for more effective environmental governance.


She holds a British Academy/Wolfson Fellowship as Principal Investigator on ‘Climate Smart Cities: Responsible Policies for governing Artificial Intelligence in Transitions to Low Carbon Societies. Her research and impact activities have been funded by the UK Research and Innovation Council/ Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the Wolfson Foundation and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.


She has been participating regularly as academic observer in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations since November 2009 and conducted various research projects on the UNFCCC negotiations focusing on the influence of non-national actors, negotiation strategies and the role of leadership by state and non-state actors.


She holds a PhD and MSc in Environmental Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an M.A. in Political Science, International Law and Economics from the University of Munich.


Her work appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals including Environmental Policy and Governance, Environmental Politics, Global Governance, International Affairs, International Environmental Agreements, the Journal of European Public Policy, Policy Studies Journal, Policy Sciences and Public Administration.


Her research monograph on Learning in Governance is forthcoming (2021) with MIT Press.


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PhD, London School of Economics and Political Science

Magister Artium in Political Science, Economics and International Law (distinction equivalent), Ludwig Maximilian University Munich

MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation (with distinction), London School of Economics and Political Science

Teaching Qualifications 

Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (full), London School of Economics and Political Science 

Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy 

Certificate in Research Supervision, De Montfort University 

Institutional Responsibilities and External Activities

Chair of Outreach Committee, International Studies Association - Environmental Studies Section (2018/20)

International Exchange and Erasmus Coordinator, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University (2016-19)

Widening Participation Coordinator for Politics, School of GPS, Newcastle University (2016/17)

Peer-reviewer for Public Administration, Review of International Organization, International Studies Review, International Environmental Agreements, the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Environmental Politics, Politics, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan and Oxford University Press

Member of International Studies Association, International Public Policy Association, International Political Science Association

Research Fellow at the Earth System Governance Network

Co-Chair/ Organiser of LSE Interdisciplinary Research Conference

Reviewer and Evaluator, FIBAA, German Higher Education Accreditation and Quality Assurance Agency

Previous Positions


Before joining Newcastle University in 2015, I was Lecturer in Politics and Research Methods at the Politics and Public Policy Department at De Montfort University Leicester and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Governance of Sustainable Pathways at the University of Leeds. I taught Environmental Governance, Environmental Management and Research Methods at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and contributed to research projects on Sustainable Development in the European Union (LSE Government Department) as well as on climate change legislation and diplomacy at the LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment/ Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy.

My non-academic work experience includes the European Commission (Directorate General for Climate Action), the German Foreign Office and the World Bank's Development Gateway Foundation.





Research Interests

My research sits at the intersection of International Relations/ Global Governance and European Public Policy. It evolves around the governance of socio-technical transitions to low carbon economies, with a special focus on new technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, in energy and transport that allow us to address climate change as a key challenge of the 21st century.

My work focuses on three factors that can facilitate such sustainable transitions:

- Evaluating the influence of non-state actors, including cities, scientists, NGOs and business networks as well as the use of scientific knowledge in policymaking on the city/local, national, EU and global governance levels

- Examine the role of learning and leadership in achieving breakthroughs in international negotiations and public policy making

- Assess the interdependence between scientific findings, public concern about related societal challenges and policy change, e.g. how public opinion on new low carbon technologies and policymakers' perception of public concern influences and shapes innovation policies on the national, EU and global level

I am interested in supervising PhD/ research projects related to international organizations (EU, UN), non-state actors, public policy-making, environmental and climate change governance.

Engagement Activities

Since 2009, I have been regularly participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations (e.g. in Copenhagen 2009, Paris 2015, Marrakech 2016, Bonn 2017 and several inter-sessional meetings in Bonn). I participated in the Roundtable on Green Growth discussions, meetings of the Research and Independent Non Governmental Organizations, presented my research findings on improving the effectiveness of non-state actor participation in international climate change negotiations and co-organised a number of panel discussions (side events).

In 2012, I participated in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (RIO 20) in Rio de Janeiro/ Brazil.

Funding Awards (selection)

British Academy/ Wolfson Fellowship 2020-23 (Principal Investigator) on Climate Smart Cities: Responsible Policies for governing Artificial Intelligence in Transitions to Low Carbon Societies (£129,985) 

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account 2019/20 (Principal Investigator) with Christine Peringer (Co-I) on Improving the Effectiveness of Climate Change Negotiations with Mediation (£19,986)

British Academy Small Research Grant 2017-19 (Principal Investigator) on non-state actor leadership in transitioning to a low carbon economy (£9,800)

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs project 2018/19 (Co-I with Graham Long and Emily Clough) on Evaluating Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals 

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account 2016-19 (Principal Investigator) on improving the effectiveness of non-state actor participation in international climate change negotiations (£16,150/ 3 separate projects)

Newcastle University 2018/19 (PI) Small Research Grant on Learning and Capacity Building for Socio-Technical Transitions to Low Carbon Economies (£1,000)

Newcastle University 2017/18 (PI) Small Research Grant on the role of non-state actors in increasing climate policy stability (£1,000)

Newcastle University 2015/17 (PI); two Small Research Grants on the influence of learning among actors in international climate change negotiations (£2,000)

De Montfort University 2014/15 (PI); Grant on non-negotiation settings in climate negotiations (£1,500)

London School of Economics and Political Science Annual Fund 2013 (Co-Organiser); award for LSE Interdisciplinary Research Conference (£5,000)

External travel and conference grants from e.g. British Council, EU, Robert Bosch Foundation 2007-17 (~£12,000)

Murmann Fellow, Foundation of German Business/ German Ministry of Education and Research 2012/13; research grant for PhD at LSE 

London School of Economics and Political Science 2011/12; PhD research grant 

German Academic Exchange Service DAAD 2010/11; PhD research grant 




Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.

[Chinese Proverb]



Inspiring students to learn and stimulating their fascination for political science and especially the European Union is at the heart of my teaching philosophy. I achieve this through my own enthusiasm for teaching and student-centered learning activities in classes and lectures. I thoroughly enjoy encouraging students to develop critical thinking abilities and training their analytical skills, thus transferring my passion for the discipline to my students. My objective is to create an active learning environment for students. This active learning environment allows them to engage with the course material in a way that facilitates the development of skills relevant to their later careers and furthers deep-level learning.

I am currently on Research Leave

Current Teaching:

HSS8004: Qualitative Methodology in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (PhD/ PGR)

Previous Teaching: 

2018-19:       POL3118: Environmental Governance and Policy (module leader)

2016-19:       POL3110: International Organization and Diplomacy (module leader)

2015-19:       POL3046: UG Dissertation (supervisor, lectures)

2015-17:       POL8098: PGR MA Dissertation (module leader)

2015-17:       POL8099: PGT MA Dissertation (supervisor, module leader) 

2015/16:       POL3063: European Union Decision Making Simulation (UG, Newcastle)

2014/15:       Introduction to Politics (UG, DMU Leicester, module leader)

2014/15:       Political Analysis (UG, DMU Leicester)

2014/15:       Managing the Environment (UG, DMU Leicester, module leader)

2013/14:       Environmental Governance and Sustainability (PG, Leeds)

2011-13:       Environmental Governance (UG, London School of Economics)

2010/11:       Environmental Management (UG, London School of Economics)

2010/11:       European Environmental and Climate Change Policy (UG, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich)

2008-11:       Model United Nations preparation programme for Harvard WorldMUN and NMUN (UG, LMU Munich)