Raul Lejano is a scholar in public policy, environment, and collective action, whose foremost interests involve understanding people’s deep engagements with community and environment, and in how we might design policies and institutions from a relational perspective. His work on climate justice and urban sustainability involves increasing resilience in vulnerable communities to risks from extreme weather events and environmental health risks. His research suggests strategies for reforming environmental governance around an ethic of care. Current projects include studying adapting to extreme weather in developing nations --e.g., empowerment workshops at Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, enacting a relational model of risk communication, and exploring high-definition virtual simulations for flood risk communication.
Beginning with his first book, Frameworks for Policy Analysis: Merging Text and Context (Routledge), he has developed approaches for integrating multiple analytical lenses in interpreting environmental situations. In his (co-authored) book, The Power of Narrative in Environmental Networks (MIT Press), a theory is advanced regarding the unique capacity of narrative to capture complex human motivations and human-nonhuman relationships. The theory is further developed in his recent (co-authored) book, The Power of Narrative: Climate Skepticism and the Deconstruction of Science (Oxford Univ. Press)*. His newest books are entitled Caring, Empathy and the Commons: A Relational Theory of Collective Action (Cambridge Univ. Press) and a co-authored work entitled Relationality: The Inner Life of Public Policy (Cambridge Univ. Press).
His work in the area of environmental policy emphasizes how ecological knowledge and action emerge from the capacity of a person to build relationships with the other. Since people’s motivations are never merely utilitarian or affective or deontological, policies cannot be so simplistically designed. As an example, cities need to be analyzed not merely in objective terms but as a web of relationships. His latest work involves the role of narrative and relationality in moving people to act on (or disregard) change. Lejano received his doctorate in Environmental Health Science in 1998 from UCLA, and held faculty appointments at MIT, UCI, and HKU before coming to NYU. As a doctoral student, he worked with Lloyd Shapley, recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics.
* American Association for Applied Linguistics, Book of the Year 2022, Link to book: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-power-of-narrative-9780197542101?cc=nz&lang=en&