Shannon O'Lear

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Geography and Atmospheric Science, Environmental Studies Program
Director, Center for Global and International Studies
Primary office:
Lindley Hall
Room 213
University of Kansas
1475 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045-7613


I am a political geographer with interests in environmental geopolitics, critical geopolitics, the South Caucasus, and spatial aspects of power and violence in different forms. Some of my recent work has explored linkages between climate science and slow violence, and in another project I have examined academic and military perspectives on environmental security. An overarching objective of my work is to apply a critical, spatial awareness to challenge and bring new insights to bear on dominant understandings of human-environment relationships.


Ph.D., Department of Geography, Syracuse University

M.A., Department of Geography, University of Colorado at Boulder

B.A., Geography and Russian , University of Colorado at Boulder

Teaching Interests

  • Human geography
  • Political geography
  • Geography of genocide
  • Environmental policy
  • Environmental geopolitics
  • Critical geopolitics

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

Selected Publications

O'Lear, S. (2018). Environmental Geopolitics, Rowman and Littlefield.

O'Lear, S. (2018). Environmental Politics. In , The Companion to Environmental Studies, edited by Noel Castree, Mike Hulme, and James D. Proctor (pp. 321-324). Routeledge.

O'Lear, S. (2018). Review of the book Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation by Christopher Sneddon The AAG Review of Books, 6(1), 41-49. DOI:10.1080/2325548X.2018.1402286

O'Lear, S. (2016). Climate Science and Slow Violence: A view from political geography and STS on mobilizing technoscientific ontologies of climate change . Political Geography, 52, 4-13. DOI:10.1016/j.polgeo.2015.01.004

Reiz, N. & O'Lear, S. (2016). Spaces of Violence and (In)justice in Haiti: A Critical Legal Geography Perspective on Rape, UN Peacekeeping, and the United Nations Status of Forces Agreement . Territory, Politics and Governance, published online 20 Jan 2016. DOI:10.1080/21622671.2015.1114963

O'Lear, S. Heilke, T. Hanley, E. & Omelicheva, M. (2016). This isn’t your usual obstacle course: Critical pedagogy with Special Operations Forces. Geoforum, 75, 159-167.

O'Lear, S. (2016). Unconventional Classroom: Critical Work with Special Operations Forces Officers . Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 106(3), 536-542.

O'Lear, S. (2015). Geopolitics and Climate Science: The Case of the Missing Embodied Carbon. In , Reframing Climate Change: Constructing Ecological Geopolitics (Shannon O'Lear and Simon Dalby, eds. Routledge) (pp. 100-115).

O'Lear, S. & Dalby, S. (2015). Reframing Climate Change: Toward Ecological Geopolitics, Routledge .

Trimbach, D. J., & Shannon, O. (2015). Russians in Estonia: Is Narva the Next Crimea? Eurasian Geography and Economics, 56(5), 1-12.

O'Lear, S. Pickett, N. R., Biersack, J. & Trimbach, D. J. (2014). Book review: The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate. Progress in Human Geography, 38(4), 629-631.

Biersack, J. A., & O'Lear, S. (2014). The Geopolitics of Russia’s Annexation of Crimea: Narratives, Identity, Silences and Energy. Eurasian Geography and Economics, 55(3), 247-269.

O'Lear, S. Dodds, K. Kuus, M. & Sharp, J. (2013). Critical Geopolitics of the Environment. In , Ashgate Companion to Critical Geopolitics (pp. 305-322). Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

O'Lear, S. & Tuten, A. (2013). Environment and Conflict: Security, Climate Change, and Commodity Resources. The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, 14(1), 97-109.

O'Lear, S. Briggs, C. M., & Denning, G. M. (2013). Environmental Security, Military Planning, and Civilian Research: The Case of Water. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 55(5), 3-13.

O'Lear, S. (2012). Response to my critics Dialogues in Human Geography, 2(3), 362-364.

O'Lear, S. (2012). Review of the book The Ashgate Research Companion to Border Studies by Doris Wastl-Walter The AAG Review of Books , 1(2), 63-64. DOI:10.1080/2325548X.2013.827029

O'Lear, S. (2012). Review of the book The Return of Private Property: Rural Life after Agrarian Reform in the Republic of Azerbaijan by Lale Yalçin-Heckmann Anthropos, 107, 319-320. Germany.

O'Lear, S. (2011). Borders in the South Caucasus: Meaning and Power. Defense and Security Analysis, 27(3), 267-276.

O'Lear, S. & Diehl, P. F. (2011). The Scope of Resource Conflict: A Model of Scale. Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, 12(1), 27-37.

O'Lear, S. (2010). Environmental Politics: Scale and Power, Cambridge University Press.

O'Lear, S. & Egbert, S. (2009). Geography of Genocide. Space & Polity, 13(1).

O'Lear, S. Agyeman, J. & Ogneva-Himmelberger, Y. (2009). Oil Wealth, Environment and Equity in Azerbaijan. In , Environmental Justice in the Former Soviet Union (pp. 97-118). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

O'Lear, S. Herb, G. & Kaplan, D. H. (2008). Azerbaijan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview, 1713-1721. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

O'Lear, S. & Whiting, R. (2008). Which Comes First, The Nation or The State? An analysis of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict in the Caucasus. National Identities , 10(2), 185-206.

O'Lear, S. (2007). Azerbaijan’s Resource Wealth: Political Legitimacy and Public Opinion. The Geographical Journal , 173(3), 207-223. DOI:10.1111/j.1475-4959.2007.00242.x

O'Lear, S. & Diehl, P. F. (2007). Not Drawn to Scale: Research on Resource and Environmental Conflict. Geopolitics, 12(1), 166-182.

O'Lear, S. & Gray, A. (2006). Asking the Right Questions: Environmental Conflict in the Case of Azerbaijan. Area, 38(4), 390-401.

O'Lear, S. Diehl, P. F., Frazier, D. V., & Allee, T. L. (2006). Dimensions of Territorial Conflict and Resolution: Tangible and Intangible Values of Territory. GeoJournal, 64(4), 259-261.

Diehl, P. F., Allee, T. Frasier, D. & O'Lear, S. (2006). Introduction. Conflict Management and Peace Science , 23(4), 263-266.

O'Lear, S. O'Lear, S. Diehl, P. F., Frazier, D. V., & Allee, T. L. (2006). Resource Concerns for Territorial Conflict. GeoJournal , 64(4), 297-306.

O'Lear, S. (2006). Resources, conflict and approaches to peace GeoJournal, 64(4), 333-337. DOI:10.1007/S10708-005-5813-1

O'Lear, S. & Lebillon, P. (2005). Resources and Conflict in the Caspian. In , The Geopolitics of Resource Wars (pp. 161-186). London: Frank Cass.

O'Lear, S. & Warf, B. (2004). Energy, Territory and Conflict: Research in the Caucasus. In , WorldMinds: 100 Geographic Solutions to Saving Planet Earth (pp. 31-35). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Selected Presentations

O'Lear, S. . (04/05/2018). US Wild Card, Carbon Emissions, and COP 21: Disrupting Policy and Practice on Climate Security. International Studies Association Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA

O'Lear, S. . (03/24/2017). Geography, Power, Knowledge, and the Possibility of ‘Otherwise’. Environmental Geopolitics in the Anthropocene. University of North Carolina and Greensboro, Greensboro, NC

Selected Grants

O'Lear, Shannon , (Researcher), Singer, Alisa, (Collaborator), Communicating Climate: Science, Art, and Society, The Commons JumpStart Funds, Submitted 11/01/2017 (03/01/2018. University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded.

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