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  • Professor Emeritus, Political Science
  • Appalachian Center
  • Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  • Political Science
  • Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Other Affiliations:

Ernest J. Yanarella

Education and Honors

Dr. Yanarella received his BA from Syracuse University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in May1966 and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in August 1971. After coming to the University of Kentucky in August 1970, he was promoted to associate professor in 1975 and to professor in 1986.  In 1991, he was selected for the College of Arts and Sciences’ Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award.  In 1997, he was chosen the Chancellor’s (now Provost’s) Distinguished Scholar Award for a Tenured Faculty Member.  He was chosen as the inaugural Endowed Professor, UK Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, 2007-2010, and then became Chellgren Faculty Fellow, 2011-2019.  He was also chosen by a College review committee as the 2009-2010 Arts and Sciences Distinguished Research Professor, the College’s highest accolade and delivered its annual lecture to a College assembly in 2010.  During the same year, he was awarded the William E. Lyons Distinguished University Service Award for his extensive service activities to the University of Kentucky and the Lexington community.


Dr. Yanarella is a retired Professor in the Political Science Department.  For several decades, he served as the Associate Director of the Center for Sustainable Cities and was selected by the Dean on faulty recommendation as Director of Environmental Studies Program in the College of Arts & Sciences for two terms totaling 10 years of service. Dr. Yanarella's teaching and research interests aligned well with the mission of the program, and his experience as an administrator provided valuable guidance to the program. He served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate studies for several stints, from 2011-2017, and he also served as Chair of the Department of Political Science for six years before a year sabbatical and retirement in July 2019. He was president of the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Kentucky for seven years.


As a professor of Political Science, his primary teaching and research interests were in the areas of critical policy studies (urban, energy and environment, and agricultural and ecological policy), political theory (early, modern, and critical traditions), substainable urban design, and politics and literature. His most recent research grants involved him in fieldwork on issues of political economy, labor, and sustainable cities in Canada and extensive field studies in eco-cities in China.

Dr. Yanarella's books include: The Missile Defense Controversy (1977), Energy and the Social Sciences (1982), The Acid Rain Debate (1985), The Unfulfilled Promise of Synthetic Fuels (1987), Political Mythology and Popular Fiction (1988), The Politics of Industrial Recruitment (1990), North American Unions In Crisis: Lean Production as Contested Terrain (1996), The Cross, the Plow and the Skyline: Contemporary Science Fiction and the Ecological Imagination (2001), The Missile Defense Controversy: A Technology in Search of a Mission (2002, 2011), The City as Fulcrum of Global Sustainability (2011), and Getting from Here to There? Power, Politics, and Urban Sustainability in North America (2016). His latest book, derived from his 2017-18 sabbatical, From Eco-Cities to Sustainable City-Regions: China’s Uncertain Quest for Ecological Civilization (2020). His three dozen scholarly articles have appeared in a wide variety of professional journals, among others: International Interactions, Social Science Quarterly, Polity, Theory and Society, Review of Politics, Journal of Peace Research, Futures, Canadian Journal of Sociology, Built Environment, Quebec Studies, Sustainability: The Journal of Record, Sustainability and Climate Change, and others.

Critical policy studies (energy and environment, agricultural and ecological policy, and national security and arms control), political theory (early, modern, and critical traditions), sustainable urban design, public ethics, and politics and literature.