Sara Hughes

Assistant Professor


PhD in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara

(734) 647-1209
G170 Dana


Professor Hughes' research focuses on the political and institutional dimensions of sustainable and equitable water and climate change policies, primarily in the urban context. Current projects examine the politics and production of safe and affordable drinking water in the U.S., the policy failures behind the Flint water crisis, and urban climate change governance, including equitable approaches to building urban climate resilience.


"Policy Learning from the Flint Water Crisis," Social Science and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant, 2018-2020 ($54,292)

University of Toronto Connaught New Researcher Award, 2015-2017 ($10,000)

"Waste Not: Closing the Loop on Organic Waste," University of Minnesota MNDrive, Co-Principal Investigator, 2014-2016 ($422,972)


2016 Bissell-Heyd Fellow, University of Toronto Center for the Study of the United States

2013 Clarence Stone Young Scholar Award from the Urban Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

2008-2010 CALFED Science Program Pre-Doctoral Fellow

2007-2008 Fulbright Postgraduate Fellow, University of South Australia

Select publications: 

Hughes, Sara. 2019. "Repowering Cities: Governing Climate Change Mitigation in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto," Cornell University Press

Hughes, Sara, Eric Chu, and Susan Mason. 2018. "Climate Change in Cities: Innovations in Multilevel Governance," Springer Press

Selected Articles:
Sara Hughes, Samer Yordi, Laurel Besco. 2018. “The Role of Pilot Projects in Urban Climate Change Policy Innovation,” Policy Studies Journal

Sara Hughes, Daniel Miller Runfola, Benjamin Cormier. 2018. “Issue Proximity and Policy Response of Local Governments,” Review of Policy Research, Vol. 35(2): 192-212.

James J. Patterson, Thomas Thaler, Matthew Hoffmann, Sara Hughes, Angela Oels, Eric Chu, Aysem Mert, Dave Huitema, Sarah Burch, and Andy Jordan. 2018. “Political Feasibility of 1.5°C Societal Transformations: The Role of Social Justice,” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 31:1-9.

Sara Hughes. 2015. “A Meta-Analysis of Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning in the U.S.,” Urban Climate, Special Issue: Building Capacity for Urban Climate Change Adaptation. Vol 14: 17-29.

Sara Hughes, Stephanie Pincetl and Christopher Boone. 2013. “Understanding Major Urban Transitions: Drivers and Dynamics in the City of Los Angeles,” Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 32: 51-59.

Sara Hughes. 2012. “Voluntary Environmental Programs in the Public Sector: Evaluation of an Urban Water Conservation Program in California,” Policy Studies Journal 40(4): 650- 673.


Chapter Lead Author, Gobal Enviornmental Outlook (GEO) for Cities
Chapter Lead Author, U.S. Global Change Program Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report
Chapter Lead Author, Second Assessment Report of the Urban Climate Change Research Network

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