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Dr. Nir Barak


Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Human Rights Under Pressure - Ethics, Law and Politics


Thesis Title: Civic Ecologism - Towards an Environmental Political Theory of Cities

Mt. Scopus

Nir is a Phd. candidate at the department of political science and he lives in Tel Aviv with his family. He received his B.A. and M.A (cum laude) in philosophy and political science from Tel Aviv University. In his Master thesis he analyzed political and philosophical differences in green political thought and his current research is largely motivated by some conclusions from the previous. That research indicated that most environmental theories are somewhat 'blind' to the city and their inhabitants, some are highly instrumental in their approach to the natural world, and a small portion are somewhat misanthropic. 'Urban Ecologism' is an attempt to overcome these fallacies and to introduce a theory that brings together human rights and environmental concerns in a relevant-urban language while maintaining a non-instrumental approach to nature.

In addition to his academic endeavors, Nir has a rich background in educational projects in different capacities, working mostly with disadvantaged teenagers.

Field of research: The Human Right to the City and Sustainable Urbanism

Title of dissertation: Civic Ecologism: Towards an Environmental Political Theory of the City

Nir's dissertation is in the field of normative political theory and in it he studies a radical form of democratic urban citizenship and its facilitation by environmental politics according to the following rationale. The effects of globalization are most noticeable in cities; international and supra-state organizations like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank or international corporations are gradually gaining greater influence over the lives of individual urbanites. In so, the ideal of democratic urban citizenship is limited not only by class differences (marginalization and exclusion) but also by the political pressures and interests that are brought about by globalization. This calls for conceptualizing the situation by what might appear as a new understanding of human rights in the form of the right to the city. It was originally coined by the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre and it denotes a radical type of collective right to reshape the processes of urbanization.

Nir is mostly interested in studying the various meanings and implications of this human right to the city in association with environmental considerations – that are an inseparable aspect of globalization. In order to treat these two issues in as an ensemble, he is working on a normative environmental theory named ‘urban ecologism’ which is an attempt to constitute a rights based approach to urban ecological citizenship that facilitates the right to the city.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles


Barak Nir (forthcoming in 2017), “Hundertwasser – Inspiration for Environmental Ethics: Reformulating the Ecological-Self”, accepted for publication in Environmental Values.



Peer Reviewed Book Chapters


Barak Nir and de Shalit Avner (2016), “Environmental Political Activism”, pp. 266-272 in ed. Byron Williston, Environmental Ethics for Canadians (2nd edition), Ontario: Oxford University Press.


Barak Nir (2015), “Hundertwasser’s Vienna: Architecture, Urban Identity and Environmental Sentiments”, pp. 249-268 in eds. Wakounig Marija, Kühnel Ferdinand, Central Europe (Re-)visited. A Multi-Perspective Approach to a Region, Vienna, LitVerlag.




Policy Papers


Barak Nir, “Placemaking as a tool for collective inquiry and structuring of urban political identities” in Making Places: Placemaking in Israel, The Urban Clinic at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2015. (Hebrew)

This publication is a joint project of the Urban Clinic at the Hebrew University and the research group I co-founded on ‘placemaking’ which wrote the academic articles for this publication.



Work in Progress


“Reassessing Environmentalism: Towards an Environmental Political Theory of the City” (In preparation)


“Towards a Model of Civic Ecological Citizenship” (In preparation)


“How does one say 'Political Science' in Hebrew?” (In preparation)



Barak Nir, “Cities as Human Niches: Against the Natural City”, in the academic blog Inhabiting the Anthropocene, https://inhabitingtheanthropocene.com/2016/10/05/cities-as-human-niches-against-the-natural-city/, October, 2016.

This invited post is part of a hosted series about Environmental Political Theory in an academic interdisciplinary blog addressing aspects of the Anthropocene.

Freie Universität Berlin
The Minerva Center for Human Rights
Menschenrechtszentrum Uni Potsdam
DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Einstein Foundation Berlin
Dahlem Research School