Kathryn Harrison is Professor of Political Science and Brenda and David McLean Chair of Canadian Studies at the University of British Columbia. She received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering before completing her PhD in Political Science. Professor Harrison has worked in the oil industry and as a policy analyst for both Environment Canada and the United States Congress. She has served as Senior Associate Dean and Acting Dean in the UBC Faculty of Arts. Harrison has published widely on Canadian and US climate policy. She is chair of the Expert Advisory Panel on climate mitigation of the Canadian Climate Institute and a member of British Columbia’s Climate Solutions Council. Harrison is a frequent media commentator on climate policy, and tweets at @profkharrison.
As McLean Chair, Harrison will be writing a book exploring the central role of natural resource exports in the colonial project of Canada. Exported resources have shifted over time from codfish and beaver pelts, to timber and wheat, to oil and gas, each with distinct domestic and international political economies, regional politics, and patterns of engagement with and oppression of Indigenous peoples. Harrison’s particular focus will be on Canada’s heavy reliance since the 1990s on fossil fuel exports, which now face multiple challenges: growing US domestic production of oil and gas; Indigenous opposition; and especially global climate change mitigation, which demands a dramatic decline in fossil fuel consumption. Canada’s ability to navigate these challenges is exacerbated by regional economic diversity, our federal system of government, and partisan cleavages. The project will compare the political economies of coal, oil and gas/LNG, and consider the prospect for new exports, including critical minerals, hydrogen, and biofuels.