S. Ravi Rajan

DivisionSocial Sciences Division
DepartmentEnvironmental Studies Department
AffiliationsAnthropology Department,
Digital Arts and New Media
Web Site Ravi Rajan's Home Page
Office424, Interdisciplinary Sciences Building
Office HoursMondays, 12 - 2 PM or by appointment (except Monday May 9).
Campus Mail StopEnvironmental Studies
Mail424 Interdisciplinary Sciences Building
Santa Cruz, CA
S. Ravi Rajan

Research Interests

Ravi Rajan’s research addresses three broad themes:

Environmentally Inclusive Governance:
With a focus on the relationship between the environment and human rights, and on the environmental basis of poverty.

The Governance of Environmental Risks:
With a focus on the governance of risk in developing countries, and on the management of the risks of emerging technologies.

Green Design and Entrepreneurship:
With a focus on identifying design opportunities, and building scalable policy and business models for technologies that can provide environmental solutions in developing countries.

Biography, Education and Training

Ravi Rajan was educated at the Universities of Delhi and Oxford, and received post-doctoral training at Berkeley, Cornell, and the Max Planck Institüt für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin. He was a Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore during 2012-14. Rajan is also a Visiting Senior Fellow of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, and a Visiting Professor at TERI University.

Rajan has three broad research interests: a) Environmentally Inclusive Governance; b) The Governance of Environmental Risks; and c) Green Design and Entrepreneurship.

Rajan has made significant contributions to higher education administration. As Provost of College Eight at UC Santa Cruz from 2006 - 2012, he did pioneering work designing a ‘green’ curriculum aimed at nurturing environmental entrepreneurs. Amongst the highlights are a novel three quarter freshman core course which includes an national award winning sustainability field practicum; a popular online learning and teaching portal based on the latest web based interactive technologies; and a series of programs aimed at forging environmental entrepreneurship amongst students. He has held several faculty leadership appointments at UC Santa Cruz. He served on the Education Abroad Program Committee during 1999-2002; the Committee on Planning and Budget during 2005-07; and the Committee on Educational Policy during 2008-09, where he contributed substantially to the reconceptualizing and redesign of the campus’s General Educational Requirements.

Rajan has been a significant presence in national and international academic institutions. He is Chair of the Outreach Committee of the American Society for Environmental History, and has served on many of its committees in the past, including as the Program Chair for the Society’s Annual Meeting. He was a founding member of the editorial board of the journal, Environment and History. He currently serves on the editorial board of the journal, Environmental Justice, and of the book series of the European Society for Environmental History. He has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), as well as for a number of leading journals and publishers.

Rajan has also served a number of civil society organizations. His public service includes the Presidency of the Board of Directors of Pesticide Action Network, North America (PANNA) ; board service for the International Media Project, which produces the weekly radio news program, Making Contact; membership of the city of Santa Cruz’s Green Building Committee, which created the new building code for the city; and Charter Membership of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), Silicon Valley, the world’s largest not for profit organization for entrepreneurs. He co-founded the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, a documentation and information center on the gas disaster, in 1985, and served on the core group of the Indian environmental organization, Kalpavriksh, during the 1980s. In addition to his scholarly work, Rajan also writes periodic essays in the popular news media.

Rajan is married to Priya Rao, a software engineer and classical vocalist, they have three children - one human and two feline.

Honors, Awards and Grants


Senior Research Fellowship. Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. 2012 - 2014.

Walther Rathenau Fellowship. Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin. 1996.

Rockefeller Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science and the Global Environment. Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University. 1995.

International Scholarship. Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). 1994.

S. V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellowship in Natural Resource Studies. University of California, Berkeley. 1993.

Junior Research Fellowship. Wolfson College, University of Oxford. 1992.

Beit Senior Research Scholarship in Commonwealth History. University of Oxford. 1992.


National Science Foundation. Division of Social and Economic Sciences. Science and Society Program, to study Science, Democracy and Environmental Policy in Developing Countries. 2009–13.

France Berkeley Fund. to conduct comparative research on the social and ecological risks associated with Genetically Modified Organisms. (with Professor Deborah Letourneau, UCSC, and Dr. Christophe Bonneuil (CNRS, Paris). 2008.

The Christensen Fund. To stage a workshop entitled, “Ecologies of Hope. ” 2005.

School of Advanced Research in the Human Experience (SAR), Santa Fe. Short Seminar Award for the “Ecologies of Hope” project. 2005.

National Science Foundation. Division of Social and Economic Sciences. Ethics and Value Studies Program, to study environmental governance. 2002–5.


UC Pacific Rim Graduate Award. 2009.

Grant from the Committee on Research, and the Social Science Division, University of California, Santa Cruz (with Deborah Letourneau and Dennis Kelso) for a research project entitled, “Mobilizing Science: Ecological Risk and Public Policy – the Case of Genetically Engineered Organisms. ” 2005.

Grant from the Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community, University of California, Santa Cruz, to co-convene (with Nancy Chen and Monica Casper) a program of research and studies on “Science, Technology and Justice. ” 2001; Renewed 2002.

Alfred D. Bell Jr. Fellowship. Forest History Society. 2001.

National Science Foundation. Division of Social and Economic Sciences. Graduate Award. 2000.

Grants from the Committee on Research, and the Social Science Division, University of California, Santa Cruz, to study regulatory compliance concerning chemical exposure and accidents in India. 1999-2001.

Grant from the Center for Global, Regional and International Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz. (with Roberto Sanchez), for a research project on “Environmental Justice in the Age of Globalization. ” 1998.

Charles Wallace Trust Grant. 1992.

Radhakrishnan Trust Grant. 1992.

Wolfson College Graduate Award. Oxford. 1990.

Radhakrishnan Scholarship. Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee of India. 1989.

ICPR Fellowship in Philosophy. The Indian Council of Philosophical Research. 1989.

The Overseas Research Scheme (ORS) Award, UK. 1989.

Visiting Studentship. The Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science. Bangalore. 1987.

Selected Publications

Selected Presentations


Selected Exhibitions


Selected Recordings


Selected Performances


Teaching Interests

Governance of Environmental Risks and Disasters
Political Economy of the Environment
Green Entrepreneurship
Environmental Justice and Human Rights
Science and Environmental Policy in Developing Countries
Environmental History

Courses Taught

See the UCSC Catalog for a current list of Rajan's courses.