Professor Lisa Vanhala
Room: 3.03, 31 Tavistock Square
Tel: 020 7679 4984 (ext. 24984)
I am a Full Professor in Political Science. I hold a DPhil and MPhil in Politics from University of Oxford. I spent my undergraduate years at McGill University and Sciences Po Paris. Prior to joining UCL, I held positions at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies in Oxford and at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at LSE. I have held visiting professorships at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California, Berkeley and the European University Institute in Florence. I have held major grants, including a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship and a European Research Council Starting Grant.
Please note: I am on research leave from 2018 to 2023.
I am interested in the politics of climate change and the socio-legal study of human rights and equality issues. My current, ERC-funded project, the Politics and Governance of Climate Change Loss and Damage (CCLAD), explores attempts to govern the impacts of climate change we will not be able to adapt to at a global and national level. Relying on a political ethnographic approach, the project explores the role of norms, identities and the micro-level, everyday dynamics of global environmental governance.
Another facet of my work looks at the ways in which civil society organisations engage with the law to shape policy and social change. My first monograph, Making Rights a Reality? Disability Rights Activists and Legal Mobilization, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. The book won the Socio-legal Studies Association and Hart Early Career Prize 2012 and the Best Book in Comparative Politics, Canadian Political Science Association 2012. Since then, I have focused on the use of law by organisations interested in environmental issues and climate change as well as those concerned with human rights and equality.
I also work as a consultant and learning partner to a number of civil society organisations and philanthropic foundations. This has included work with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Public Law Project, Access Social Care, Independent Age, Impact Law for Social Justice, the Baring Foundation, the Lankelly Chase Foundation, the Legal Education Foundation and BBC Children in Need. I also sit as a co-opted member on the Sustainable Future Committee of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
- Vanhala, L. (2011) Making Disability Rights a Reality? Disability Rights Activists and Legal Mobilization in Canada and the United Kingdom. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Book chapters
- Lock, R. and Vanhala, L. (2022) ‘International NGOs and the (Non) Mobilization of Human Rights in the Context of Climate Change: An Inconvenient Frame?’, in G. de Búrca (ed.) Legal Mobilization for Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Calliari, E., Vanhala, L., Nordlander, L., Puig, D., Bakhtiari, F., Hossain and Rahman, M. F. (2020) ‘Loss and Damage’, in L. Reins and G. van Calster (eds.) A Commentary on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change: Implementation and Application. Elgar Publishing Ltd, pp. 200–217.
- Conant, L., Hofmann, A., Soennecken, D. and Vanhala, L. (2019) ‘Patrolling the Boundaries of Belonging? Courts, Law and Citizenship’, in S. M. Sterett and L. D. Walker (eds.) Research Handbook on Law and Courts. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 336–350.
- Vanhala, L. (2014) ‘Meaning Frames, Opportunity Structures and Rights in the Canadian Disability Rights Movement’, in M. Smith (ed.) Group Politics and Social Movements in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
- Landau, D. and Vanhala, L. (2005) ‘Circumventing the State? Stateless Nations, National Minorities and the EU Constitution’, in J. Drew (ed.) Redefining Europe. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 149–164.
- Journal articles
- Vanhala, L., Johansson, A. and Butler, F. (2022) ‘Deploying an Ethnographic Sensibility to Understand Climate Change Governance: Hanging Out, Around, In, and Back’, Global Environmental Politics, 22(2), pp. 180–193.
- Vanhala, L. (2022) ‘Environmental Legal Mobilization’, Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 18(1), pp. 101–117.
- Johansson, A., Calliari, E., Walker-Crawford, N., Hartz, F., McQuistan, C. and Vanhala, L. (2022) ‘Evaluating Progress on Loss and Damage: An Assessment of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism under the UNFCCC’, Climate Policy, 9–10, pp. 1199–1212.
- Vanhala, L. and Calliari, E. (2022) ‘Governing People on the Move in a Warming World: Framing Climate Change Migration and the UNFCCC Task Force on Displacement’, Global Environmental Change, 76.
- Vanhala, L. and Kinghan, J. (2022) ‘The “Madness” of Accessing Justice: Legal Mobilisation, Welfare Benefits and Empowerment’, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 44(1), pp. 22–41.
- Calliari, E. and Vanhala, L. (2022) ‘The “National Turn” in Climate Change Loss and Damage Governance Research: Constructing the L&D Policy Landscape in Tuvalu’, Climate Policy, 22(2), pp. 184–197.
- Calliari, E., Vanhala, L., Nordlander, L., Puig, D., Bakhtiari, F., Hossain and Rahman, M. F. (2021) ‘Loss and Damage’, The Paris Agreement on Climate Change: A Commentary, pp. 200–217.
- Vanhala, L., Robertson, M. and Calliari, E. (2021) ‘The Knowledge Politics of Climate Change Loss and Damage across Scales of Governance’, Environmental Politics, 30(1–2), pp. 141–160.
- Calliari, E., Mysiak, J. and Vanhala, L. (2020) ‘A Digital Climate Summit to Maintain Paris Agreement Ambition’ Nature Climate Change, 10, pp. 480.
- Vanhala, L. (2020) ‘Coproducing the Endangered Polar Bear: Science, Climate Change, and Legal Mobilization’, Law & Policy, 42(2), pp. 105–124.
- Calliari, E., Serdeczny, O. and Vanhala, L. (2020) ‘Making Sense of the Politics in the Climate Change Loss & Damage Debate’, Global Environmental Change, 64.
- Vanhala, L., Lambe, S. and Knowles, R. (2019) ‘“Let Us Learn”: Legal Mobilization for the Rights of Young Migrants to Access Student Loans in the UK’, Journal of Human Rights Practice, 10(3), pp. 439–460.
- Vanhala, L. and Setzer, J. (2019) ‘Climate Change Litigation: A Review of Research on Courts and Litigants in Climate Governance’, WIRES Climate Change, 10(3).
- Vanhala, L. (2018) ‘Is Legal Mobilization for the Birds? Legal Opportunity Structures and Environmental Nongovernmental Organizations in the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Italy’, Comparative Political Studies, 51(3).
- Conant, L., Hofmann, A., Soennecken, D. and Vanhala, L. (2018) ‘Mobilizing European Law’, Journal of European Public Policy, 1-14.
- Vanhala, L. (2018) ‘Shaping the Structure of Legal Opportunities: Environmental NGOs Bringing International Environmental Procedural Rights Back Home’, Law and Policy, 40(1), pp. 110–127.
- Vanhala, L. (2017) ‘Process Tracing in the Study of Environmental Politics’, Global Environmental Politics, 17(4), pp. 88–105.
- Vanhala, L. and Hestbaek, C. (2016) ‘Framing Climate Change Loss and Damage in the UNFCCC Negotiations’, Global Environmental Politics, 16(4), pp. 111–129.
- Vanhala, L. (2016) ‘Legal Mobilization under Neo-Corporatist Governance: Environmental NGOs before the Conseil d’Etat in France, 1975-2010’, Journal of Law and Courts, 4(1), pp. 103–130.
- Vanhala, L. (2015) ‘The Diffusion of Disability Rights in Europe’, Human Rights Quarterly, 37(4), pp. 831-853.
- Vanhala, L. (2013) ‘Civil Society Organisations and the Aarhus Convention in Court: Judicialisation from Below in Scotland?’, Representation, 49(3), pp. 309–320.
- Vanhala, L. and Hilson, C. (2013) ‘Climate Change Litigation: Symposium Introduction’, Law and Policy, 35(3), pp. 141-149.
- Vanhala, L. (2013) ‘The Comparative Politics of Courts and Climate Change’, Environmental Politics, 22(3), pp. 447–474.
- Vanhala, L. (2012) ‘Legal Opportunity Structures and the Paradox of Legal Mobilization by the Environmental Movement in the UK’, Law & Society Review, 46(3), pp. 523–556.
- Vanhala, L. (2011) ‘Social Movements Lashing Back: Law, Social Change and Socio-legal Backlash in Canada’, Studies in Law, Politics and Society, 54.
- Vanhala, L. and Kelemen, R. (2010) ‘The Shift to the Rights Model of Disability in the EU and Canada’, Regional and Federal Studies, 20(1), pp. 1–18.
- Vanhala, L. (2010) ‘Twenty-five Years of Disability Equality? Interpreting Disability Rights in the Supreme Court of Canada’, Common Law World Review, 39 (1).
- Vanhala, L. (2009) ‘Anti-Discrimination Policy Actors and their Use of Litigation Strategies: The Influence of Identity Politics’, Journal of European Public Policy, 16(5), pp. 738–754.
- Vanhala, L. (2009) ‘Disability Rights Activists in the Supreme Court of Canada: Legal Mobilization Theory and Accommodating Social Movements’, Canadian Journal of Political Science-Revue Canadienne de Science Politique, 42(4), pp. 981–1002.
- Vanhala, L. (2006) ‘Fighting Discrimination through Litigation in the UK: the Social Model of Disability and the EU Anti-Discrimination Directive’, Disability & Society, 21(5), pp. 551–565.
Journal special issues
- Vanhala, L. and Hilson, C. (2013) ‘Symposium on Climate Change Litigation’, Law & Policy, 35(3).
- Other publications
- Vanhala, L. and Kinghan, J. (2019) ‘Using the Law to Address Unfair Systems: A Case Study of the Personal Independence Payments Legal Challenge’, The Baring Foundation.
- Vanhala, L. and Kinghan, J. A. (2018) ‘Literature Review on the Use and Impact of Litigation’, Public Law Project.
- Vanhala, L. and Kinghan, J. A. (2018) ‘Using the Law for Social Change: A Landscape Review’, The Baring Foundation.
- Vanhala, L. (2017) ‘Case Study of Just for Kids Law’s Strategic Intervention in the UK Supreme Court: R (Tigere) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills’, Just for Kids Law.
- Vanhala, L. (2017) ‘Successful Use of Strategic Litigation by the Voluntary Sector’, The Baring Foundation.
- Vanhala, L. (2016) ‘Framework for Better Use of the Law by the Voluntary Sector’, The Baring Foundation.
I am currently on research leave (2018-2023). I am available to take on a limited number of PhD students who are interested in the law and politics of climate change loss and damage, or in studies of legal mobilization.