William San Martín (He/Him/El) is an interdisciplinary scholar of earth-systems sciences and global environmental governance trained in history, international politics & relations, and science & technology studies (STS). His work focuses on international development; Latin America & the Global South; socio-environmental (in)justices; and science, technology & the human environment. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Earth Systems Governance Project.
William is a former Fulbright Scholar (2011-2015); a Visiting Scholar and a Postdoctoral Associate jointly affiliated with the program of Science, Technology, and Society and the History Section at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2016-2018); and a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany (2021).
William's main research focuses on global nitrogen governance with particular attention to issues of expertise, sustainable development policy, and inequalities in the Global South. His research asks questions about the imbalances of knowledge, agencies, and power in the governance of earth-human interactions. He examines the unequal place of expert communities, science-policy interface frameworks, and research and governmental institutions in the governance of biogeochemical processes on earth—as processes linked to lasting issues of (under)development and colonialism.
Born and raised in Chile, William has vast experience in policy-oriented research and building collaborations with international organizations and communities. He received his B.A. (2006) and M.A. (2011) in History from the Universidad Católica de Chile and a Ph.D. in Latin American and World History at the University of California Davis (2017) with a focus on international agricultural development, U.S. - Latin America relations, science diplomacy, and environmental sustainability. William has conducted research in Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, and the United States.
Across academic projects and institutional collaborations, William is interested in the multiple forms issues of rights, justice, and democracy take in the formation of global environmental issues.Before focusing his attention on contemporary environmental issues, William worked on questions regarding race equity, slavery, legal systems, and state formation in the 18th and 19th centuries across the North Atlantic and the Americas. Today, he integrates many of the discussions from colonial, postcolonial and development studies, critical race theory, history and sociology of state formation, and the social history of law and policy into his teaching and scholarship. In doing so, he aims to highlight areas that tend to be overlooked in modern scholarly and public environmental governance debates, such as political economy, inequalities, violence, and colonialism.
William is co-editor, along with Emily O'Gorman, Mark Carey, and Sandra Swart, of the Routledge Handbook of Environmental History (under contract), and author of various peer-reviewed articles and book chapters published in fields including history of science and technology, political ecology, environmental studies, sustainable development, and Latin American studies. He currently curates the collections "Technology and Expertise" and "Histories across Species" for Arcadia, the online, peer-reviewed journal of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.
William is a contributing author to the International Nitrogen Assessment (INA), the first global assessment addressing issues at the intersection of nitrogen science, management, and governance. Set for publication in 2022, INA is a major output from the International Nitrogen Management System Project (INMS), implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). William is also a Steering Council Member for the North American Chapter of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI). INI is an international program sponsored by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) aiming to produce scientific advice to minimize nitrogen’s harmful effects on human health and the environment resulting from food and energy production.
At WPI, he is an affiliated faculty with the MS Community Climate Adaptation, the International & Global Studies, and the Great Problems Seminar Programs, and a Steering Committee Member of WPI's Latin American & Caribbean Studies Initiative. He has served as a faculty advisor for Interactive Qualifying Projects working with local organizations at the intersection of sustainable development, environmental conservation, and climate resilience at WPI's Costa Rica - Monteverde Project Center.