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Nik Heynen headshot

The Polson Institute for Global Development is thrilled to welcome Nik Heynen as its inaugural Distinguished Speaker from October 2-6, 2023. Nik Heynen is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia whose research explores areas of urban political ecology, abolition ecologies and geographies, and geographies of neoliberalism and racial capitalism.

In his work, Heynen seeks to theorize and demonstrate empirically how racialized processes of capitalism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism produce structurally unjust geographies and ecologies. Trained as an urban geographer, Nik has published research based in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Atlanta and New Orleans, and is now thinking about cities in the U.S. South and has several streams of research in the southern cities.  

For nearly a decade Nik has worked with the Saltwater Geechee community on Sapelo Island on the restoration of traditional agricultural practices and flood mitigation made necessary as a result of descendants losing their land to development pressure and increasing sea-level rise. Through this work, he co-directs UGA’s Cornelia Walker Baily Program on Land and Agriculture with Maurice Bailey.

Early in his career, Nik was fortunate to serve as part of the editorial collective at Antipode, which was one of the key inspirations that made him want to become a geographer and was the founding Chair of Antipode’s Institute for the Geographies of Justice (IGJ). He has also served as an editor for Annals of the Association of American Geographers and he helped establish the University of Georgia Press book series Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation, as well as was a founding editor of the journal Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space.

Monday, October 2

  • 10:15am-12pm | Office hours | Warren 230: Grad students can make an appointment to meet one-on-one with Professor Heynen.
  • 12:30pm | Welcome lunch: Open to MPS, Ph.D., Humphrey Fellows, Faculty and Staff in Global Development. 

Tuesday, October 3

Wednesday, October 4

Thursday, October 5

Friday, October 6

  • 11:15am-12:10pm | Coffee hour with graduate students | Warren B73: Open only to Ph.D. students in Development Studies.
  • 3pm-5pm: Seminar - Re-Earthing Sapelo: Abolition Ecology and the Struggle to Save the Land | Warren B73 and Zoom: Seminar in Critical Development Studies co-hosted by the Polson Institute for Global Development, Cornell Global Development and the Graduate Field of Development Studies. 

More information about this event.

Contact Information

Tamar Law, Ph.D. Student, Development Studies

  • tl432 [at]


Nik Heynen, Polson Institute Distinguished Speaker


Department of Global Development

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