Debra Javeline

Associate Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Notre Dame
Areas of Expertise:
  • Policy in Other Countries
  • Climate Change
  • Environment

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About Debra

Javeline specializes in the central global challenge of our time, climate change and adapting to its impacts. She is also a scholar of the former Soviet Union with a thematic focus on political conflict, political psychology, and political behavior and a methodological focus on survey research. The linkage between her prior and current work comes in the study of critical world problems and how people cope. From 1997-1999, she worked as a social science research analyst at the United States Information Agency (now part of the State Department). Currently, she devotes time to community outreach on climate change. Given the lack of opportunities to understand climate change and its impacts within standard curricula or community activities, she visits universities, schools, and community groups with the goal of making the complex issue of climate change digestible for a variety of audiences. She is also a presenter with the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.



Protest and the Politics of Blame: The Russian Response to Unpaid Wages (University of Michigan Press, 2003).
Describes one of the biggest problems of Russia’s political and economic transition from Soviet rule, the wage arrears crisis, and the relative passivity of most Russians in the face of such desperate circumstances. Focuses on the need to specify blame among the dizzying number of culprits and problem solvers in the crisis. Shows that understanding causal relationships drives human behavior and that specificity in attributing blame for a problem influences whether people address that problem through protest.
"The Role of Blame in Collective Action: Evidence from Russia" American Political Science Review 97, no. 1 (2003): 107-121.
Uses evidence from an original nationwide survey of 2,026 adult Russians conducted in 1998 during the height of the Russian wage arrears crisis. Shows that Russians who attributed blame for the crisis to specific culprits or problem-solvers protested more than Russians who did not, and the mobilizing efforts of entrepreneurs had a greater impact on the less specific attributors.
"The Surprisingly Nonviolent Aftermath of the Beslan School Hostage Taking" (with Vanessa A. Baird). Problems of Post-Communism 58, no. 4 (2011): 3-22.
Chronicles the mostly nonviolent aftermath of the 2004 school hostage taking in Beslan, North Ossetia, which had been widely expected to provoke retaliatory violence by ethnic Ossetians against ethnic Ingush and Chechens. Draws on surveys of 1,098 victims (82 percent response rate) and describes characteristics common to those who supported violent retaliation and those who participated in peaceful political action.
"Expert Opinion on Climate Change and Threats to Biodiversity" (with Jessica J. Hellmann, Rodrigo Castro Cornejo, and Gregory Shufeldt). Bioscience 63, no. 8 (2013): 666-673.
Examines survey data from 2,329 environmental biologists and finds that greater expertise is associated with projections of greater climatic change and more severe consequences. Finds that the opinions of scientists with greater expertise converge, and they expect larger temperature increases, higher percentages of species extinctions, and a high percentage of species’ ranges will change in response to climate change over the next 100 years.
"Scientific Opinion in Policymaking: The Case of Climate Change Adaptation" (with Gregory Shufeldt). Policy Sciences (2013).
Identifies a problem for policymaking: the absence of standards for defining, measuring, and using scientific opinion and the resulting accidental or intentional dissemination of misinformation and the marginalization of science where science could be most beneficial. Argues that scientific opinion can be usefully measured by systematic surveys of scientists that employ standards similar to those that govern public opinion surveys, including systematic decisions about target populations, sampling frames, and sampling techniques. Shows that survey results may be used to corroborate other types of information, refine or contradict other information, and offer novel insights into emerging issues, such as adaptations to climate change, that are currently not addressed with any other type of available information.
"The Most Important Topic Political Scientists are Not Studying: Adapting to Climate Change" Perspectives on Politics (forthcoming).
Describes the large and growing interdisciplinary field of study devoted not just to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions but to reducing our vulnerability to the now inevitable impacts of climate change. Argues that the lack of political science expertise and research represents an obstacle for adapting to climate change, because adaptation is fundamentally political. Technical advances in adaptations for infrastructure, agriculture, public health, coastal protection, conservation, and other fields all depend on political variables for their implementation and effectiveness. Explores the tremendous contributions that political scientists could make to adaptation research.

In the News

"Climate Change and Political Scientists: Defining a Research Agenda," Debra Javeline, Monkey Cage, July 12, 2013.