Logo for Climate Social Science Network (CSSN)


Steven Bernstein

University of Toronto

Based in

North America

Steven Bernstein is Distinguished Professor of Global Environmental and Sustainability Governance at the University of Toronto in the Department of Political Science. He is also Co-Director of the Environmental Governance Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, co-editor of the journal Global Environmental Politics, and a lead faculty member of the Earth Systems Governance Project. His research spans the areas of global governance and institutions, global environmental politics, non-state forms of governance, international political economy, and policy studies. He is the author or co-editor of several books and author of over 75 scholarly articles and book chapters.

How to Connect



Christian Elliot, Amy Janzwood, Steven Bernstein and Matthew Hoffmann. 2023. Rethinking Complementarity: The Co-evolution of Public and Private Governance in Corporate Climate Disclosure. Regulation & Governance. Early View. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/rego.12550.

Benjamin Cashore and Steven Bernstein. 2023. The Tragedy of the Diffusion of the Commons Metaphor: Bringing the Environment Back into Environmental Studies. Perspectives on Politics 21 (2): 478-501.

Heather Millar, Eve Bourgeois, Steven Bernstein and Matthew Hoffmann. 2020. “Self-Reinforcing and Self-Undermining Feedbacks in Subnational Climate Policy Implementation.” Environmental Politics. Online first, October 7: 1-20.

Steven Bernstein. 2020. “The Absence of Great Power Responsibility in Global Environmental Politics.” European Journal of International Relations 26 (1): 8-32.

Steven Bernstein and Matthew Hoffmann. 2019. “Climate Politics, Metaphors and the Fractal Carbon Trap.” Nature Climate Change 9 (December): 919–925.

Benjamin Cashore, Steven Bernstein, David Humphreys, Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers, Katharine Rietig. 2019. “Designing Stakeholder Learning Dialogues for Effective Global Governance. Policy and Society 38 (1): 118-147.

Steven Bernstein and Matthew Hoffmann. 2018. The Politics of Decarbonization and the Catalytic Impact of Subnational Climate Experiments.” Policy Sciences 51 (2):189–211.

Daniel Compagnon and Steven Bernstein. 2017. “Non-Demarcated Spaces of Knowledge-Informed Policy Making: How Useful is the Concept of Boundary Organization in IR?” Review of Policy Research 34 (6): 812-826.

Steven Bernstein and Hamish van der Ven. 2017. “Best Practices in Global Governance.” Review of International Studies 43 (3): 534-556.

Hamish van der Ven, Steven Bernstein, and Matthew Hoffmann. 2017. “Valuing the Contributions of Non-State and Subnational Actors to Climate Governance.” Global Environmental Politics 17 (1): 1-20.

Kenneth W. Abbott and Steven Bernstein. 2015. “The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development: Orchestration by Default and Design.” Global Policy 6 (3): 222–233.

Matthew Paterson, Matthew Hoffmann, Michelle Betsill, and Steven Bernstein (equal authorship, reverse alphabetical order). 2014. “The Micro Foundations of Policy Diffusion towards Complex Global Governance: An Analysis of the Transnational Carbon Emission Trading Network.” Comparative Political Studies 47 (3): 420-449.

Steven Bernstein. 2013. “Rio + 20: Sustainable Development in a Time of Multilateral Decline.” Global Environmental Politics 13 (4): 12-21.

Book Chapters

Kenneth W. Abbott, Steven Bernstein and Amy Janzwood. 2020. “Orchestration and Earth Systems Governance.” Architectures of Earth System Governance: Institutional Complexity and Structural Transformation. Edited by Frank Biermann and Rakhyun E. Kim. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 233-253.

Steven Bernstein. 2018. “Challenges in the Empirical Study of Global Governance Legitimacy.” Legitimacy in Global Governance: Sources, Processes, and Consequences. Edited by Jonas Tallberg, Karin Bäckstrand, and Jan Aart Scholte. Oxford University Press, pp. 189-200.

Nathan Lemphers, Steven Bernstein and Matthew Hoffmann. 2018. “The Global Subsidies Initiative: Catalytic Actors and the Politics of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform.” The Politics of Fossil Fuel Subsidies and Their Reform, edited by Jakob Skovgaard and Harro van Asselt. Cambridge University Press, pp. 173-189.

Steven Bernstein and Matthew Hoffmann. 2018. “Decarbonisation.” Governing Climate Change: Polycentricity in Action? Edited by Andrew Jordan, Dave Huitema, Harro van Asselt and Johanna Forster. Cambridge University Press, pp. 248-265.

Steven Bernstein and Hamish van der Ven. 2017. “Continuity and Change in Global Environmental Politics.” International Politics and Institutions in Time, edited by Orfeo Fioretos. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 293-317.

Norichika Kanie, Steven Bernstein, Frank Biermann and Peter Haas. 2017. “Introduction: Governance through Goals – A Goal-Driven Approach for Sustainable Development.” Governance through Goals: New Strategies for Global Sustainability, edited by Norichika Kanie and Frank Biermann. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 1-27.

Steven Bernstein. 2017. “The United Nations and the Governance of Sustainable Development Goals.” Governance through Goals: New Strategies for Global Sustainability, edited by Norichika Kanie and Frank Biermann. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 213-239.