Vanessa Schweizer

Associate Professor 
Department of Knowledge Integration


  • Geography and Environmental Management
  • School of Environment, Enterprise and Development
  • School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability
  • Systems Design Engineering

Faculty, Balsillie School of International Affairs

Member, Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation

Member, Waterloo Climate Institute

Fellow, Cascade Institute, Royal Roads University

Contact information:

Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 45106
Office: Environment 1 (EV1), room 211


  • PhD Engineering and Public policy, Carnegie Mellon University, 2010
  • Masters Environmental Studies, The Evergreen State College, 2007
  • BSc (H) Physics (minors in Mathematics, Philosophy, Speech Communication), University of Nevada, USA, 2001

Research interests:

Collective decision-making. This includes many processes such as articulating aspirations and values, exercising foresight, confronting uncertainties and risks, and negotiating tradeoffs.

Active research projects:

  • Systematic approaches to scenario design for large-scale environmental change
  • Path dependencies and discontinuities in social and technological change
  • Interdisciplinary knowledge integration for environmental problems, especially climate change

Key publications:

Selected honours / awards:

  • Paper with E.A. Lloyd recognized with a Diamond Ranking by editors of Synthese for being one of the top 10 downloaded papers of 2014
  • Contributing author to Ch. 21 (Regional Context) of the contribution of Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Paper with E. Kriegler selected for the "Highlights of 2012" collection of Environmental Research Letters
  • Doctoral fellowships from the Link Foundation (Energy Fellow, 2008-2010) and The Henry Luce Foundation (Clare Boothe Luce Fellow, 2005-2007)

Courses taught:

  • INTEG 121: Collaboration, Design Thinking, and Problem Solving
  • INTEG 251: Creative Thinking
  • INTEG 452: Real World Problem Solving
  • INTEG 441: Hard Decisions and Wicked Problems