Samuel Kay

Smiling dark haired man in portrait wearing blue shirt: Samuel Kay
Professional Title
Assistant Professor

I am a human-environment geographer who takes a justice-centered approach to questions at the intersection of urbanization and the environment. Key areas of focus in my research and teaching are urban environmental politics, environmental migration, climate and air pollution adaptation, population politics, and environmental justice. My current project attends to these urgent issues through a grounded, primarily ethnographic analysis of the Beijing government’s attempts to manage population and environment at the same time under the state framework of “ecological civilization.”

Building on this project, I am developing a new line of research that examines far-right and authoritarian environmentalisms, especially as they relate to issues of racial justice and settler colonialism in northern Minnesota.

Research keywords: Urbanization, Political Ecology, Environmental Justice, Environmental Humanities, Migration, Population, China

Courses Taught

-ES 3200: Environmental and Ecological Justice

-ES 2095: Climate Change and Environmental Humanities

-GEOG 1205: Our Globalizing World

-GEOG 3334: Urban Geography

-GEOG 3335: Urban Planning

-GEOG 3481: Urban Ecology


Recent Publications

Kay, S. (2021). Stranger Than Science-Fiction? Urban Inequality, Density, and the Spatial Imaginaries of Beijing’s City Plan and Hao Jingfang’s Folding Beijing. Feature for Beijing22, a project of I: Project Space and the Goethe-Institut China.

Kay. S. (2020). Reclaiming the Crisis: What Is an Ecological Narrative of Radical Possibility? In Luigi Tomba and Oliver Krischer, Shades of Green: Notes on China Eco-civilisation.

Kay. S. (2020). Breathing in Beijing: Governing Particles and People in Urban China. In Disastrous Times: Beyond Environmental Crisis in Asia, ed. Eli Elinoff and Tyson Vaughan. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.