Prof. Shannon O'Lear

Shannon O'Lear
  • Director, Environmental Studies Program
  • Professor

Contact Info

Office Phone:
Department Phone:
Malott Hall #3012


I am a political geographer with interests in environmental geopolitics, critical geopolitics, the South Caucasus, and Science and Technology Studies (STS). An overarching objective of my work is to apply a critical, spatial awareness to bring new insights to bear on dominant understandings of human-environment relationships. I demonstrate this approach in my 2018 book, Environmental Geopolitics. I have also published work on climate science, geography and STS, geopolitics in Azerbaijan and Armenia, genocide and other forms of violence. I am finishing work on an edited book project for Edward Elgar’s Research Agenda series focused on geographies of slow violence. Currently, I am the interim Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Kansas. I am also serving as an Expert on the Environmental Science and Human Security Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (AC-ERE) of the National Science Foundation. I am serving as the Councilor for the Great Plains Rocky Mountain Region of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) through 2023 and am serving my second year on the AAG’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. As a response to the unusual circumstances this academic year, I am co-organizing a webinar series for the AAG with one track focused on early career concerns and another track focused on issues for leadership within the discipline. I hold a BA in Geography and Russian and a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. from Syracuse University.


Research interests:

  • Political geography of environmental issues
  • Environmental security and vulnerability
  • Political geography of former Soviet republics
  • Human dimensions of global change
  • South Caucasus region
  • climate science
  • violence
  • environmental geopolitics
  • Azerbaijan
  • Caspian Sea


Teaching interests:

  • human geography
  • political geography
  • geography of genocide
  • environmental policy
  • environmental geopolitics
  • critical geopolitics