Melissa Lane

Class of 1943 Professor of Politics
Director, University Center for Human Values

Melissa Lane is the Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and director of the University Center for Human Values. She is also an associated faculty member in the Department of Classics and the Department of Philosophy at Princeton.

Prof. Lane is co-convenor of the Climate Futures Initiative, supported over time by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and serves on the executive committee of Princeton’s Program in Classical Philosophy. She has served as a trustee of Princeton University Press, chairing its editorial board in 2018-19, and on the Climate Change Working Group of the Social Sciences Research Council.

Prof. Lane's core research has focused on the history of political thought and political philosophy, with distinctive strength in ancient Greek political thought while spanning both the ancients and the moderns. She has also done substantial research on the ethics and political theory of climate change, and more broadly, of the intersection between science, democracy, and communication. Fruits of this research include her book Eco-Republic (UK edition, 2011 / US edition, 2012), which has generated attention among scientists (see for example A review of Eco-Republic in Science), classicists (leading to a number of public and keynote lecture invitations), political theorists (leading to her invited survey of political theory and climate change for the 2015 Annual Review of Political Science), and the general public (most recently in a broadcast lecture on the book subtitled in Italian for the Turin Festival del Classico, almost ten years after the book first appeared). Further research in this area, including articles and book chapters written collaboratively with her former Princeton graduate student K. Michael Lamb, and with Princeton faculty colleagues Robert O. Keohane and Michael Oppenheimer, can be found on her website.

She was awarded a 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize at Princeton University, and a 2012 Fellowship of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in the field of classics, which she held as a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Research in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Looking ahead, she will be the Isaiah Berlin Lecturer at Oxford University in 2022-23, delivering a set of Berlin Lectures in Trinity Term 2023; she was previously the Carlyle Lecturer at Oxford in 2017-18, delivering a set of Carlyle Lectures in Hilary Term 2018.

Selected Publications
  • Sverker Sörlin and Melissa Lane, ‘Historicizing climate change – engaging new approaches to climate and history,’ Climatic Change 151 (2018): 1-13. [This is the refereed introduction to a Special Issue on ‘Historicizing Climate Change’ edited by Melissa Lane, John R. McNeill, Robert H. Socolow, Sverker Sörlin]
  • Michael Lamb and Melissa Lane, ‘Aristotle on the ethics of communicating climate change’, in Clare Heyward and Dominic Roser (eds.) Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World, Oxford University Press, 2016, 229-254.
  • ‘Political Theory on Climate Change’, Annual Review of Political Science 19 (2016) 107-123.
  • Robert O. Keohane, Melissa Lane, and Michael Oppenheimer, ‘The ethics of scientific communication under uncertainty’, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, published online 27 June 2014. DOI: 10.1177/1470594X14538570
  • ‘When the experts are uncertain: scientific knowledge and the ethics of democratic judgment’, Episteme 11:1 (2014) 97-118.
  • Lane, Melissa. Eco-Republic: What the Ancients Can Teach Us about Ethics, Virtue, and Sustainable Living. (2012). Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.