Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Keith Hyams

KH photo

Professor of Political Theory and Ethics

Email: K dot D dot Hyams at warwick dot ac dot uk
Room: E2.22

I am a political theorist with an interest in democratic design, and in the use of methods from philosophical ethics to contribute to interdisciplinary research on global challenges. My research is animated by two questions:

  1. What democratic innovations would allow us to better cope with the environmental, social, and technological challenges that humanity faces?
  2. What does it mean, in theory and practice, to adapt to climate change, and to promote global development, in a way that is both ethical and just?

Ongoing research includes work on motivation in political theory, on ethics in adaptation to climate change, technology and democracy, pandemics, and Indigenous Peoples. My previous research focused on the philosophy of equality and fairness, particularly in respect of distributions of risk. I have also published on the ethics of consent, on carbon offsetting and carbon quotas, and on political authority. My research on justice and risk was awarded the Inaugural Sanders Prize in Political Philosophy in 2015.

My policy work includes advising a broad range of UK and international NGOs and government bodies, including the UK Cabinet Office. In 2020 I was awarded the International Society for Environmental Ethics Andrew Light Prize for Public Philosophy for policy engagement. I am a member of the Strategic Advisory Group for the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund, and a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Safeguarding for the UK Collaborative on Development Research.

I have a BA in psychology and philosophy, and a BPhil and DPhil in philosophy (Oxford). Before joining Warwick in 2014, I was a Lecturer in Political Theory at the Universities of Exeter and Reading. I have held visiting positions at the University of Toronto, the University of Louvain, and the University of Oxford. Prior to becoming an academic I lived and worked with marginalised groups in various countries, including Rwanda, Guyana, India, Peru, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, and the Middle East.

Research Projects

Current Projects

  • 2023-2026, Horizon Europe/UKRI, 'Knowledge Technologies for Democracy', Co-Investigator, €2,999,261 (led by Trinity College Dublin, with partners in Italy, Poland, Finland, Spain, France and Belgium)
  • 2022-2023, GCRF-Newton Fund, ‘Leveraging Youth Research for Policy Impact: Just Recovery from Covid-19 in Informal Settlements’, Principal Investigator, £20,000 (with Slum Dwellers International and youth affiliates in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Sierra Leone)

  • 2020-2023, British Academy, 'Technological Risks in Development', Principal Investigator, £199,336 (with the University of Nairobi and CABI, Kenya, and Warwick Life Sciences)

  • 2019-2022, ESRC, 'Challenging Inequalities: An Indo-European Perspective', Co-Investigator, £850,664 (with Warwick Economics and partners in India, France and Norway)
  • 2018-2023, Leverhulme Research Project Grant, ‘Future Politics', Principal Investigator, £189,985

Completed Projects

  • 2020- 2022, UKRI/Newton Fund, The COVID Observatories: Monitoring the Interaction of Pandemics, Climate Risks, and Food Systems among the World’s most Disadvantaged Communities’, Co-Investigator, £508,586 (with the University of Leeds, FAO, and research and policy partners from Uganda, Bolivia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Namibia, Peru, South Africa, Aruba, Australia, Canada)

  • 2020-2022, AHRC, 'Inserting Ethics into Adaptation and Resilience Policy', Principal Investigator, £147,773 (with the University of Cape Town and Cape Town City government, South Africa)
  • 2020-2022, Royal Academy of Engineering, 'New Approaches to Equitable Resilience', Principal Investigator, £19,935 (with the Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics, Kenya)
  • 2017-2022, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, ‘Climate Change and Indigenous Food Security’, Co-Investigator, £1,220,000 (with University of Alberta and Indigenous partners in Peru, Uganda, and Canada)
  • 2020-2021, AHRC, 'Supporting Just Response and Recovery to COVID-19 in Informal Urban Settlements: Perspectives from Youth Groups in Sub-Saharan Africa', Principal Investigator, £135,689 (with Slum Dwellers International South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, University of Nottingham, and Warwick Medical School)
  • 2019-2021, ESRC, 'Urban Violence & Climate Change Network', Network Member, £150,000 (with University of Nottingham, IBA Pakistan, University of Sao Paulo Brazil, University of Khartoum Sudan, KDI Kenya, Centre for Migration Research and Development Sri Lanka, CASM Honduras, Christian Aid, International Alert, and Warwick Law)
  • 2019-2020, British Academy, ‘Tackling Climate-Related Health Risks in Urban Slums: an interdisciplinary analysis of the challenge of integrating local and scientific knowledges’, Principal Investigator, £50,000 (with University of Lusaka, Zambia, and Warwick Medical School)
  • 2019-2020, Warwick Monash Alliance Catalyst Fund, 'Improving Earth Systems Governance through “Purpose Ecosystems”', Co-Investigator, £27,268 (with University of Monash and Warwick Business School)
  • 2018-2020, Warwick Impact Fund, ‘Ethics in Government: Cabinet Office Collaboration’, Principal Investigator, £7,700
  • 2018-19, ESRC Impact Accelerator Account grant, ‘Urban Violence and Adaptation to Climate Change’, Principal Investigator, £19,910 (with University of Nottingham, IBA Pakistan, University of Sao Paulo Brazil, University of Khartoum Sudan, KDI Kenya, Centre for Migration Research and Development Sri Lanka, CASM Honduras, Christian Aid, International Alert, and Warwick Law)
  • 2018, British Academy, ‘Remedying Injustice in Indigenous Climate Adaptation Planning’, Principal Investigator, £49,984 (with Makerere University, Uganda, and University of Leeds)
  • 2016-2019, Horizon 2020, ‘Piloting Responsible Research and Innovation in Industry’, Co-Investigator, €1,708,096 (TU Delft lead)
  • 2016-2018, Global Partnership Fund, ‘Development, Inequality, and Citizenship’, Principal Investigator, £19,970 (with Cenderawasih University and Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, and University of York)
  • 2016-2017, ESRC-AHRC-NERC, ‘Why we Disagree about Resilience’, Co-Investigator, £199,680 (with University of Cape Town, KDI Kenya, Christian Aid Philippines, and KCL)
  • 2016-2017, Warwick Impact Fund, ‘The International Politics of Self-Determination’, Principal Investigator, £6,700
  • 2015-2017, ESRC Impact Accelerator Account grant, ‘The International Politics of West Papua’, Principal Investigator, £19,897
  • 2011-15, EU FP7, 'Interoperability of Data and Procedures in Large-Scale Multinational Disaster Response Actions', Ethics Advisor, £11,000/€5,662,689
  • 2012-2014, Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, ‘Solving Moral Conflict’, Principal Investigator, £44,958
  • 2012, Hoover Fellowship, Chaire Hoover, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, €2,000
  • 2011-2013, British Academy, ‘Freedom, Equality, and Consent’, Principal Investigator, £7,458
  • 2011-2012, NERC Valuing Nature Network grant, ‘Bridging the gap between supply and demand for valuation evidence’ Network Member, £49,994
  • 2011-2012, EPSRC, 'Climate Engineering: an Interdisciplinary Assessment', Co-Investigator, £6,680
  • 2009-2010, Visiting Faculty Fellowship, Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto, £21,500
  • 2009-2010, British Academy ‘Equality, Insurance, and Choice’, Principal Investigator, £7,285
  • 2008-2012, AHRC research grant on equality and justice, 'Sharing Nature's Bounty', Principal Investigator, £210,000