Karen Bakker

Wall Associate




Department of Geography





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Karen Bakker

Dr. Bakker is a scholar committed to understanding environmental policy, the role and significance of water resources in society, and distributive justice. Her primary work is in the field of the political ecology of water, water resources, and resource used in developed and developing countries. Dr. Bakker, a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, completed her doctorate in 1999 and subsequently held a Junior Research Fellowship at Jesus College, Oxford. She came to UBC as an Assistant Professor in 2001 and was a Peter Wall Early Career Scholar in 2002-2003.

Dr. Bakker authored “An Uncooperative Commodity: Privatizing Water in England and Wales” (Oxford University Press, 2004) and edited “Eau Canada: The Future of Canada’s Water” (UBC Press, 2006). In addition to producing numerous refereed articles and chapters and a great number of reports, Dr. Bakker contributes to popular debates in the media and elsewhere. At UBC, she is Director of the Water Governance Program.

Primary Recipient Awards

Karen Bakker – Theme Development Workshop – 2019
Karen Bakker – Exploratory Workshops – 2013
This workshop was held Jan 29-30, 2014. An estimated 80% of the world’s population faces a high-level water security or water-related biodiversity risk. Water security is also a serious issue in Canada, including drinking water risks (notably First Nations), water and climate change, and water and extractive sectors. However, water research and teaching is dispersed across disciplines, and interdisciplinary scholarship required to tackle these complex problems is relatively rare.  This exploratory workshop will include scholars working on water issues across the full range of the humanities and social sciences, natural sciences, and medicine, including (but not limited to): hydrology, geomorphology, geography, visual and performing arts, law, history, engineering, forestry, agricultural/food studies, hydrogeology, population and public health, biochemistry & molecular biology, and microbiology. Participants will explore some of our most pressing water problems from an interdisciplinary perspective, identifying potential innovative strategies and solutions.
Karen Bakker – Distinguished Scholars in Residence – 2007
Karen Bakker – Exploratory Workshops – 2005
This workshop took place on Nov 24-25, 2006. Increasing awareness of risks to water quality and quantity is driving the application of integrated watershed management approaches in many jurisdictions. Innovative approaches include source protection, the ‘multi-barrier’ approach, and risk assessment. Yet many questions remain unanswered. Should we adopt a risk-based watershed management approach to public health aspects of source protection? What new public health monitoring strategies are required? What innovations in water science methodologies are necessary to address source protection? How should science be integrated into source protection policies? What are the implications of source protection for integrating land use and water management? What governance mechanisms, at which scales, are required to for implementation? This Exploratory Workshop sought to address these and other questions through a two-day meeting of a select group of approximately 20 Canadian and international water experts from diverse disciplines. The organizing committee at the University of British Columbia was made up of senior water experts from engineering, environmental sciences, geography, law, medicine, and planning. The emphasis of the workshop was on discussion in small groups and plenary sessions. Each participant was expected to author a paper, and to deliver a short presentation addressing aspects of shared discussion questions. To facilitate discussion, participant’s papers were posted on the dedicated workshop website prior to the meeting. A workshop report was produced as the potential basis for the development of large-scale grant application to one or more of Canada’s major academic funding councils.
Karen Bakker – Theme Development Workshop – 2005
Karen Bakker – Early Career Scholars – 2002

Co-Principal Investigator Awards

Mary Galvin – International Visiting Research Scholars – 2017