Patrick Christie, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs

Professor, Jackson School of International Studies

Research areas

Patrick Christie is interested in justice and sustainability, in that order. Sustainability without justice is regressive and untenable. He happens to work at the interface of oceans and coastal communities, but also works in other environments. While Patrick started (and continues) to work on protected areas, fisheries management, and coastal management, he now believes, especially in these times, that working in support of visionary environmental justice social movements is both more interesting and more essential than conducting one more technical study resulting in recommendations that are largely ignored when they challenge the status quo. The status quo includes overreliance on natural science-based environmental decision making, privileging the same old voices, and relying on so-called experts for answers. As a White, privileged, male, he aspires to use his position to explore and foster allyship. As such, he has written about such matters and is working to understand and support social movements demanding change. His teaching, research, and activism works to support Indigenous leaders who are at the forefront of fossil fuel protest movements, anti-racist policies, and inter-cultural understanding. He has much to learn in this realm. Join him and others in this change process.

Over his career, Patrick has led various comparative, socio-ecological research projects in the U.S., Philippines, Indonesia and Latin America to inform the practice of marine resource management. He has been particularly interested in the human dimensions of marine conservation employing marine protected areas, ecosystem-based management, and conservation fishing technologies—research that resulted in a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation. He regularly provides technical advice on the human dimensions of marine conservation to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, World Bank, USAID, and various other governmental and non-governmental environmental organizations. In addition to his scholarship, he is actively engaged in marine protected area design and implementation. Recently he was involved in an NCEAS working group that provided guidance to the Palauan government on the implementation of a large, new MPA.

In February 2016, he and others organized a meeting of 125 conservation leaders, social scientists and donors to consider the human dimensions of large-scale marine protected areas. This effort has also resulted in an informal community of practice in this realm, a workbook for practitioners, and various peer reviewed publications—including journal articles and a journal theme issue (see below).

Dr. Christie is increasingly focused on understanding Indigenous-led environmental recovery in the Salish Sea and the Upper Great Lakes Region, petroleum infrastructure-resistance movements, and climate change social movements.  After conducting hundreds of surveys and interviews of tribal leaders, Dr. Christie and others co-hosted a workshop with the Tulalip Tribes in 2016 to explore the human dimensions for coastal squeeze in the Puget Sound region and potential of tribally-led estuary restoration projects. This resulted in a publication on tribal leadership in Puget Sound restoration (see below).

In Winter 2017, Dr. Christie and Francesca Hillery (then Public Affairs Manager, Tulalip Tribes) taught a course titled “Finding common ground in a world of environmental change”, in which students developed a strategic communications strategy for the Tulalip Tribes and a digital story about their experience. Dr Christie also led a course in 2018 with the globally recognized Indigenous leader, Winona LaDuke, on tribal rights and methods for growing hemp as means of sustainable agriculture and post-petroleum economic activity.

Dr. Christie recently has been involved in research, organizing, and digital storytelling to raise critical questions about how society engages in marine conservation and restoration efforts and whether these efforts are inclusive of diverse perspectives. He is leading a project that uses digital storytelling methods to engage Tulalip youth and UW students to explain tribal rights and leadership in Salish Sea recovery. He is also working on a project to understand conflict in ocean spaces around the world and the development of context-appropriate conflict resolution methods. Lastly, Patrick is interested in understanding the efficacy and supporting the creating of learning networks around the world that bring policy makers, scientists, community leaders and others together to share information and catalyze equitable and sustainable relations with the environment. As such he’s working with Future Earth ( and colleagues in Brazil ( to foster ocean-related learning networks.

He is jointly appointed in the Jackson School of International Studies. Dr. Christie received his Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Christie teaches:

  • SMEA/JSIS/ENVIR 433: Environmental Degradation in the Tropics
  • SMEA 502: Decision Making and Action Taking in Marine Affairs
  • SMEA 509: Integrated Coastal Management
  • SMEA/JSIS/ENVIR 103: Society and the Oceans
  • SMEA 550: Political Ecology and Environmental Justice

Selected publications

Nathan J. Bennett, Elena M. Finkbeiner, Natalie C. Ban, Dyhia Belhabib, Stacy D. Jupiter, John N. Kittinger, Sangeeta Mangubhai, Joeri Scholtens, David Gill & Patrick Christie. 2020. The COVID-19 Pandemic, Small-Scale Fisheries and Coastal Fishing Communities, Coastal Management, DOI: 10.1080/08920753.2020.1766937

Bennett, N.J., Andrés M. Cisneros-Montemayor, Jessica Blythe, Jennifer J. Silver, Gerald Singh, Nathan Andrews, Antonio Calò, Patrick Christie, Antonio Di Franco, Elena M. Finkbeiner, Stefan Gelcich, Paolo Guidetti, Sarah Harper, Ngaio Hotte, John N. Kittinger, Philippe Le Billon, Jane Lister, Rocío López de la Lama, Emma McKinley, Joeri Scholtens, Ann-Magnhild Solås, Merle Sowman, Nicolás Talloni-Álvarez, Lydia C. L. Teh, Michelle Voyer and U. Rashid Sumaila. 2019. Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy. Nature Sustainability 2: 991–993 (

Christie, P., D.L. Fluharty, H. Kennard, R.P. Pollnac, B. Warren, T. Williams. 2018. Policy pivot in Puget Sound: Lessons learned from marine protected areas and tribally-led estuarine restoration. Ocean and Coastal Management 163: 72–81.

Graziano, K., RP Pollnac, P. Christie. 2018. Wading past assumptions: Gender dimensions of climate change adaptation in coastal communities of the Philippines. Ocean and Coastal Management. 162: 24–33.

Twichell, J., R. Pollnac, P. Christie. 2018. Lessons from Philippines MPA management: Social ecological interactions, participation, and MPA performance. Environmental Management 61:916-927.

Christie, P., N.J. Bennett, N.J. Gray, T.‘A. Wilhelm, N. Lewis, J. Parks, N.C. Ban, R. Gruby, L. Gordon, J. Day, S. Taei, A.M Friedlander. 2017. Why people matter in ocean governance: Incorporating human dimensions into large-scale marine protected areas. Marine Policy 84: 273-284.

Bennett, N., L. Teh, Y. Ota, P. Christie, A. Ayers, J.C. Day, P. Frank, D. Gill, R. Gruby, J.N. Kittinger, J. Z. Koehn, N. Lewis, J. Parks, M. Vierroso, T.S. Whitty, T.’A. Wilhelm, K. Wright, J. Aburto, E. Finkbeiner, C. Gaymer, H. Govan, N. Gray, R. M. Jarvis, M. Kaplan-Hallama, T. Satterfield. 2017. An appeal for a code of conduct for marine conservation. Marine Policy 81: 411–418.

Patrick Christie, Diana M Pietri, Todd C Stevenson, Richard Pollnac, Maurice Knight and Alan T White. 2016 Improving human and environmental conditions through the Coral Triangle Initiative: progress and challenges. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. pp. 169-181 DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2016.03.002

Visit Dr. Christie’s Google Scholar page