Ian Gray, visiting doctorant of University of California Los Angeles, at the CSO from february to july 2020

Created: 10 February 2020

Ian Gray is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of California Los Angeles. His research focuses broadly on how environmental problems become economic problems. In particular, he is interested in how scientific knowledge about environmental change is apprehended, repurposed, and made “actionable” by commercial and economic actors. In his dissertation, he is looking at how efforts to calculate the physical impacts and costs of climate change are reconfiguring institutional relations in various administrative and economic sectors such as catastrophe insurance, public water management, and agricultural development.

While in Europe, Ian will be conducting research on the (re)insurance sector and efforts by specific actors in the sector to adjust their risk assessment practices in light of a changing climate. He is focusing specifically on global hurricane risk and the two institutional actors at the heart of producing knowledge about catastrophic risk – reinsurance companies and catastrophe modeling firms. Drawing on theoretical approaches from organizational studies, science studies and the sociology of risk, he traces how information related to hurricane risks is produced, diffused and brought into processes of decision-making for reinsurers—mostly based in Europe—and the spill-over effects reinsurers' actions have for other insurance actors around the world. How have the past two decades or so of knowledge about climate risks influenced their assessment practices? What kinds of new expertise have reinsurers brought into their natural catastrophe groups? How have traditional strategies of risk diversification been affected by the uneven geography of extreme events? And how are reinsurers innovating around the problems climate change poses to their business model?

To see his profile on UCLA’s website :