Christian Bay Award

Christian Bay Award

The Christian Bay Award recognizes the best paper presented on a new political science panel at the previous year’s annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

2020 Recipient:
Gregory Koutnik, University of Pennsylvania

Paper Title: “Ecological Populism: Politics In Defense of Home”

2020 Committee:
Jeffrey Broxmeyer (chair), Lucrecia Garcia-Iommi, Ben Pauli

In his APSA paper, Koutnik explains that people come to value and protect the environment by way of a sense of belonging (ecological belonging), which presents itself as one of three modes corresponding to different ways of valuing one’s environ: economic, epistemic, and affective. On the basis of this, he argues that these three modes of ecological belonging inspire a politics of self-defense—ecological populism—in which everyday people act politically to defend their homes against the economic processes that threaten to degrade and destroy them.

Koutnik’s paper is thought provoking and innovative in moving beyond debates over whether populism is inherently ethno-nationalist, authoritarian, and regressive. The effort to outline political action in defense of the home (defined in environmental, and not national terms) against what Koutnik calls “developmentalism” offers a framework for community groups and activists to engage with in their struggles.

We of the award committee were particularly drawn to the paper’s implication regarding the generation of a broader appeal for the protection of the environment. Koutnik demonstrates the potential for “ecological belonging” to facilitate and sustain the collective action necessary to build a better world, both in checking the power of economic elites and by bringing grassroots environmental values to the forefront. The concept of “ecological belonging” is fertile ground, theoretically and politically. The framing constructs a socially and ecologically inclusive imagined community, while working to combat the economic processes that “sacrifice the things that everyday people cannot bear to lose.”

As this conference paper is part of a larger dissertation project, we the committee look forward to seeing the future impact of Koutnik’s work in the discipline, and hope to see his ideas aid in the progress of social movements.

Past Recipients
2019: Mark Major, Independent Scholar 
“Why the South Prevailed: Civil Rights, Anticommunism, and the Origins of the ‘Liberal Media.'”

2018: Priscilla Yamin and Alison Gash, University of Oregon
‘Illegalizing Families’: State Status and Deportability.” 

2017: Timothy Weaver, University at Albany, SUNY
A City of Citizens: Social Justice and Urban Social Citizenship.”

2016: Jocelyn Boryczka, Fairfield University
An Anatomy of Sexism: The Colonized Vagina.” 

Additional Recipients »

Deadline for nominations: April 1, 2021

Award Committee

Greg Koutnik, Chair
University of Pennsylvania 
John Berg 
Suffolk University
Lucrecia Garcia Iommi
Fairfield University