Social Dynamics of Energy-Climate Transitions
Research interests: Social dynamics of electricity system change, Smart Grid, wind power, carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy transitions, stakeholder engagement in climate modeling, sustainable energy clusters, shared action learning, social learning, sustainability education, climate and energy literacy
On November 25, 2013 Clark University hosted a community conversation focused on “What is Smart Grid and Why Should We Care?” Read the Worcester Magazine article about the event.
“Getting Smart? Climate Change and the Electric Grid” available open access Full Text can be downloaded here.
This paper explores the complexities of electricity system change, identifying tensions among key societal actors and illustrates how divergent societal priorities are influencing electricity system innovation. The piece characterizes differences among actors’ perceptions of change across two critical dimensions: (1) moving toward more centralized versus more decentralized energy systems, and (2) radical versus incremental change. This article also makes the key point that climate change/sustainability goals are only one set of many considerations motivating innovation in electricity systems, and depending on the path taken, a future “smart grid” could do little to reduce, or could even exacerbate, risks associated with climate change.
Stephens, J. C., E.J. Wilson, T.R. Peterson, J. Meadowcroft. 2013. Getting Smart? Getting Smart? Climate Change and the Electric Grid. Challenges 4(2): 201-216.
A commentary on smart grid development in Worcester and beyond highlights the potential and the uncertainty of how electricity systems will change. Read article here
Integrating stakeholder perspectives is increasingly important in environmental science as a growing number of research projects are justified with a “solutions” orientation prioritizing societal relevance. Dr. Jennie Stephens, Clark ES&P Alum and Washington State University-based graduate student Liz Allen and co-authors Chad Kruger and Fok-Yan Leung examine perceptions of project goals and attitudes about stakeholder engagement among a team of researchers who are addressing water supply and nutrient cycling in the context of climate change in the Columbia River Basin. A paper on this research has been published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, and is publicly available (open access) here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13412-013-0136-x
Graduate student, Liz Allen, presented research on “Learning from stakeholder engagement in a regional earth system modeling initiative” at the American Geophysical Union Chapman Conference on Communicating Climate Science in Granby, Colorado on June 10th, 2013. The same research was also presented at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management in Estes Park, Colorado on June 5th. View Poster Presentation here