Universiteit Leiden

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Jan Aart Scholte

Professor Global Transformations and Governance Challenges

Prof.dr. J.A. Scholte
+31 71 527 2727

Jan Aart Scholte is Professor of Global Transformations and Governance Challenges at Leiden University. The chair is held jointly between the Institute of Political Science in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Institute of Security and Global Affairs in the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. Jan leads Leiden University’s interfaculty programme on Global Transformations and Governance Challenges (GTGC). His own current research interests include globalisation and social change, polycentric governing, legitimacy in global governance, global democracy, civil society in global politics, and Internet governance.

More information about Jan Aart Scholte

I am Professor of Global Transformations and Governance Challenges at Leiden University since 2020. I convene Leiden’s programme on Global Transformations and Governance Challenges (GTGC), an interfaculty and interdisciplinary initiative to advance knowledge and practice on how we govern—and could govern—major world-scale changes in contemporary society.

Previously I held positions at the University of Duisburg-Essen, University of Gothenburg, University of Warwick, London School of Economics (Centennial Professor), Institute of Social Studies, and University of Sussex, where I also obtained my PhD. In all I have (co-)convened a dozen international research projects and programmes on global studies.

The red thread in my research across four decades concerns what it means to live in and to govern a global world. My main general work on this subject, Globalization: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave, 2000 and 2005), examines definitions, drivers, consequences and policy in relation to contemporary globalization. I also co-edited (with Roland Robertson) a four-volume Encyclopedia of Globalization (Routledge, 2007).

On governing a global world I explore—and seek to synthesize—institutional, legal, relational, structural and normative analyses, often around the concept of ‘polycentrism’. This approach is especially developed in a co-edited volume (with Frank Gadinger) on Polycentrism: How Governing Works Today (Oxford University Press, 2023). I also give particular attention to global governing through nonstate actors and so-called ‘multistakeholder’ arrangements, including a study of Multistakeholderism: Filling the Global Governance Gap? (Global Challenges Foundation, 2020). Another recent book (co-authored with Karin Bäckstrand, Thomas Sommerer, and Jonas Tallberg) examines Global Governance: Fit for Purpose? (SNS, 2023).

A further long-term research interest addresses democracy in global politics, often with a particular focus on the role of civil society. My main publications in this vein include Contesting Global Governance (with Robert O’Brien et al., Cambridge University Press, 2000), Democratizing the Global Economy: The Role of Civil Society (CSGR, 2004), and Building Global Democracy? Civil Society and Accountable Global Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2011), together with articles inter alia in Global Governance, Government and Opposition, European Journal of International Relations and Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

In 2016-2021 I co-convened (with PI Jonas Tallberg and Karin Bäckstrand) the Legitimacy in Global Governance (LegGov) programme based at Stockholm University. From that research I co-wrote the books Legitimacy in Global Governance: Sources, Processes and Consequences (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Citizens, Elites, and the Legitimacy of Global Governance (Oxford University Press, 2022), as well as articles in outlets such as American Political Science Review, European Journal of International Relations, International Affairs, and Review of International Studies.

Finally, I focus on substantial research into global governing on the policy field of Internet. Hortense Jongen and I have conducted a large study of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), including articles in European Journal of International Relations, Global Governance, and Regulation & Governance. In 2021-24 we undertake a further study of the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean. During 2014-16 I was an advisor on accountability issues for the so-called ‘IANA Stewardship Transition’ in global Internet governance. My broader investigations of the internet field have resulted in co-edited volumes on Power and Authority in Internet Governance: A Return of the State? (with Blayne Haggart and Natasha Tusikov; Routledge, 2021) and Global Digital Data Governance: Polycentric Perspectives (with Carolina Aguerre and Malcolm Campbell-Verduyn; Routledge, 2024), as well as a forum (co-edited with Sigrid Quack) on ‘Unity and Diversity in Global Internet Governance’ (2022).

Wherever possible and constructive I pursue practitioner-research engagement with non-academic circles. Over the years I have engaged across all continents with local, national, regional and global governance organizations, civil society associations and social movements, foundations, and media outlets.

My external grants to support the above research have come from the Ford Foundation, German Ministry of Education and Research, Global Challenges Foundation, Nuffield Foundation, International Development Research Centre, Oxfam Novib, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Swedish Research Council, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, United Nations University, and World Vision.

My teaching at Leiden University focuses on ‘Governing a Global World’ (bachelor level) and ‘Global Transformations and Governance Challenges’ (master level). I also supervise PhD students on subjects concerned with governing a global world.

Professor Global Transformations and Governance Challenges

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Politieke Wetenschap

Work address

Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague
Room number 6.22


Professor Global Transformations and Governance Challenges

  • Faculty Governance and Global Affairs
  • Institute of Security and Global Affairs

Work address

Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague




  • University of Gothenburg onderzoeksproject
  • Moscow State University Visiting Professor
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