Richard Widick

Visiting Scholar


Interdisciplinary Research Hub Affiliation(s): Climate, Energy, and Environment


Richard Widick holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he lectured on theory, culture, media, globalization, social movements and environment before coming to the Orfalea Center. He is the author of Trouble in the Forest: California's Redwood Timber Wars (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), an ethnography, cultural analysis, and 150 year social history of the US colonization and industrialization of California's northern redwood region—a history of the Indian wars and labor trouble that set the legal, social and ecological conditions for converging peoples, labor and environmental movements in the present era of globalization. In new research aimed at further integrating global studies and cultural sociology with media and environmental theory, Widick scales up his institutional analysis of US culture to the international scene of western modernity and the UN climate negotiations.  In preparation of a new manuscript—Climate of Empire: Inside the Struggle over Global Climate Governance—he has conducted participatory fieldwork and research videography inside the annual Conferences of the Parties (COPs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where he has represented the University of California as an official UN Observer Delegate with collaborator John Foran (sociology, UCSB) for the past three years (COP 17, Durban, South Africa, 2011; COP 18 Doha, Qatar, 2012; and COP 19, Warsaw, Poland, 2013).  At COP 20 in Lima, Peru, December 2014, Widick and Foran will again participate in the struggle over the UN's next universal climate treaty, to be adopted at COP 21 in Paris, 2015.  Widick and Foran are founders and co-directors of The International Institute of Climate Action & Theory (IICAT), and publicize their climate-related work at  With Patrick Bond (University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa), Michael Dorsey (Joint Center for Political and Economic Study, Washington, DC), Hilal Elver (UCSB), and Richard Falk (UCSB), they participate in the policy and film research work of the Orfalea Center's Transnational Politics and Social Movements of Climate Justice Research Cluster.