My name is Georges Alexandre Lenferna (although I typically go by Alex). I am a Fulbright Scholar and Doctoral Candidate in the University of Washington, Department of Philosophy. My research specializes in the ethics of climate change or climate justice. My writing and research is freely available here, and also by following the respective links to the left. I also engage in a range of climate justice advocacy around fossil fuel divestment and carbon taxes, among other things. For a brief overview of my academic and advocacy work, you are welcome to read the respective sections below.
Academics and Writing
I am a PhD candidate in Department of Philosophy at the University of Washington (Seattle), specializing in climate justice. In my research I attempt to take a philosophically grounded interdisciplinary approach to climate justice, poverty and inequality in a way which hopes to recognize and elucidate the intersections between climate change and other forms of justice. I wrote a masters thesis focusing on climate justice and migration; my PhD thesis focuses on climate justice and the carbon bubble; and my broader research examines a range of related topics including philosophy of climate science, geoengineering, carbon pricing, climate reparations, global poverty, and the rights of nature.
Starting in Fall 2017, I am working as a research assistant for a National Science Foundation funded project on Geoengineering, Political Legitimacy and Justice. The grant aims to “to foster the creation of an international research community that focuses on the ethical and political issues concerning geo-engineering”. Previously, at UW, I have worked as: a lecturer and a teaching assistant in the Philosophy Department; a Research Assistant for the Program on Values in Society; a research associate at the UW’s Program on Ocean Change; and as research assistant for Prof Stephen Gardiner. I am also busy completing the UW Program on Climate Change‘s Graduate Certificate in Climate Science, and am a Graduate Fellow in Environmental Politics and Governance at the Center for Environmental Politics.
Climate change is one of the greatest moral challenges of our time, and one that urgently requires action. Thus outside of the my university work, I occupy a number of mostly volunteer roles aimed at actively working towards climate justice. Here is a list of some of the recent roles I have played within climate justice advocacy. If you are interested in finding out more or getting involved, please do not hesitate to contact me:
– a fellow and steering committee member with Carbon Washington, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental tax reform in the State of Washington. We put the first statewide carbon pricing initiative in America onto the Washington State ballot. Unfortunately, despite running an incredible grassroots campaign, the initiative faced difficult political headwinds (from both expected and unexpected places) and did not pass. Following the ballot we are continuing our work to push for strong climate policy.
– A Climate Justice Steward with the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, which is a broad coalition of organizations attempting to push for effective and equitable climate policies within the state of Washington.
– I worked as a research consultant with 350.org (international) – a grassroots climate advocacy organization. I provided research and broader support to a number of their important climate justice and fossil fuel divestment campaigns.
– For a number of years I was a leader of Confronting Climate Change, a Seattle based student-group dedicated to the fight for climate justice. We were successful in divesting the University of Washington from coal, making us the largest and richest public university to do so at the time. We have also successfully lobbied for $10s of millions worth of investment in clean energy and more.
– I also volunteer with 350Seattle, where I have played a leadership and research role in their fossil fuel divestment campaigns targeted at the city of Seattle, the city of Seattle pension fund, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Both sides of my family come from the small island nation of Mauritius. In 1983, my parents moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was born (in 1987), grew up and went to school. At the age of 19, I moved from Johannesburg to the town of iRhini in the Eastern Cape of South Africa to attend (the university currently known as) Rhodes University. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Organizational Psychology, I went on to study a Master of Arts in Philosophy focusing on both global poverty and environmental ethics. In the second year of my masters, I had the honour and the privilege of being selected as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar – an experience which introduced me to incredible leaders from across the African continent and further inspired me to dedicate my life to fighting climate change and global poverty.
Alongside my studies in South Africa, I was involved in, helped found and/or lead a number of primarily youth-driven social justice, climate change, and sustainable development-focused organizations and campaigns. I worked on a number of projects, including: using indigenous amaXhosa knowledge to help low income communities build resilience; an environmental education program working with low-income schools; a campaign to fight against proposed fracking plans in South Africa; a campaign advocating for South Africa to put in place a carbon tax.
After my studies at Rhodes University, I worked for both the Environmental Learning and Research Centre – where I worked on community-based sustainable development and education projects; and the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science – where I helped coordinate interdisciplinary educational workshops on earth systems science. Then in 2012, at the age of 24, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to undertake a PhD in the United States – I had applied because I thought the United States was where action on climate change was most urgently and ethically needed. So I packed my bags, and headed to the United States where I have been primarily researching, teaching and advocating for climate justice ever since. My PhD should be completed by mid-2018, after which I am legally obliged to leave the country. I am not 100% sure what I will do next, but I am quite sure it will involve working on climate justice, poverty and inequality.
I use social media primarily to disseminate articles and information relevant to issues of environmental, climate and social justice. Although a lot of the content is global in nature, much is particular to the African, South African and North American context. If you’re interested in connecting on social media, you can connect to me on Facebook here, Twitter here, or follow the widgets on the top right corner of this page.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments or would like to get in touch. My email address is: alexlenferna [at] gmail dot com