Karen O’Brien is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo, Norway. She is also co-founder of cCHANGE, a company that supports transformation in a changing climate. Her research has emphasized the social and human dimensions of climate change and implications for human security. Karen’s current work focuses on the relationship between climate change adaptation and transformations to sustainability, with an emphasis on the role of creativity, collaboration, empowerment, and flexibility. She is particularly interested in the role of beliefs, values, worldviews, and paradigms in generating conscious transformations to sustainability, including an exploration of the potential for “quantum social change.” O’Brien has participated in four reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and in 2019 and 2020 she was named by Web of Science as one of the world’s most influential researchers of the past decade. In 2021 she was co-recipient of the BBVA Foundations Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Climate Change.

This profile was last updated on April 27, 2021

Mind & Life Connections


2021 Summer Research Institute Session

Panel Discussion: Science Forum: The Science of Social Change for Sustainability

Moderators: Elissa Epel
Panel: Christine Wamsler, Ed Maibach, Karen O' Brien, Elissa Epel

Topics: Environment | Interconnection | Mindfulness | Social Change