Kate Sherren

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Category: Energy (page 1 of 13)

Cornell Energy Incubator

Dylan Bugden chairs our discussion of research best practice.

Dylan Bugden chairs our discussion of research best practice.

Excellent first day here at the ‘Energy Incubator’ invited meeting here at Cornell, sponsored by Rich Stedman‘s social science fellowship at the Atkinson Centre for a Sustainable Future. Mostly Americans, save for Tom Beckley and Louise Comeau (UNB) and I, this group is gender- and experience-balanced and engaged in research across a range of energy/society issues: landscape, justice, gender, ‘booms’, impacts on other industries (ag), etc.

Getting started at the Energy Incubator.

Getting started at the Energy Incubator.

We started with short bursts on the more or less ‘half-baked’ ideas people pitched up before we came–at the half-baked end I talked about my ideas for an enpathy engine (that is, energy empathy) to combat climax thinking. We then brainstormed best practice for energy impacts research and broke into groups for some more focused discussions, which is what we’ll spend today doing. We then had a chance to explore the stunning Ithaca campus on the way to dinner.

The small hydro facility on the Cornell campus.

The small hydro facility on the Cornell campus.

Our meeting today was held in a beautiful centre at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, but the gracious campus buildings are also nestled beside stunning gorges that tumble down to the townsite. There is even a small hydroelectricity dam that provides power to the campus (probably a project of the Engineering school)? Sign me up, Cornell. 

Ithaca is Gorges!

Ithaca is Gorges!

Jeffrey Jacquet tours us around Cornell's gorges.

Jeffrey Jacquet tours us around Cornell’s gorges.

SSHRC team meetings all week

John Parkins, Carolyn Mann and Wes Tourangeau celebrate #Dal200 this week

John Parkins, Carolyn Mann and Wes Tourangeau celebrate #Dal200 this week in the Dalhousie ‘quad’

A real pleasure to have collaborators in town this week for meetings on several SSHRC-funded projects. Wednesday and Thursday we’ve been talking about what’s been achieved in the HM/sustainable grazing project 2.5 years in, and what we’ll do from here on in. John Parkins, co-applicant on that grant, has come from the University of Alberta, and Carolyn Mann, RA, from Ottawa. We’ve had collaborators Marney Isaac and Ed Bork skype in from Toronto and Edmonton, respectively. The whiteboard is no longer white, but laden with scrawled insight. Tomorrow we switch gears and talk energy.

Culturomics on the horizon

Conservation culturomics is one of this year's emerging issues.

Conservation culturomics is one of this year’s emerging issues.

I drove in this slippery morning listening to the Smiths, turning off my car during Some Girls are Bigger Than Others. It’s still in my head, but now I’m hearing “some cites are better than others”. Earlier this week I saw that our Mactaquac ‘flocus group’ work was cited in an interesting new article by Susana Batel engaging critically with social acceptance of energy literature. Bummer, then, to see our paper reported as case work from Nevada, USA, instead of New Brunswick, Canada! Improving my mood, this morning, our culturomics commentary in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on the potential of images in culturomics was one of five cited in the ninth annual ‘horizon scan’ of emerging issues for global conservation and biological diversity in Trends in Ecology & Evolution to support the growing importance of conservation culturomics. Some citations are truly better than others.

Funded MES projects for fall 2018

Students who are interested in starting a thesis-based MES in my lab starting fall 2018 should start getting in touch now. Early applicants, if high quality, can be put forward for important scholarships like the Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship program: its first round closes in late November.  I am looking particularly for students interested in the social perceptions and implications of energy installations such as wind and hydroelectricity. Backgrounds in sociology, art history, cultural studies, human geography, anthropology are particularly valuable for these roles, but the most important variables are interest and motivation:

  • One project will collaborate with me on a project led by John Parkins out of the University of Alberta, exploring wind energy transitions in Alberta. This research will include engagement with social media as a research tool (e.g. this), as well as quantitative surveys and possibly landscape visualization.
  • Another project is expected to be funded from a grant proposal currently under consideration, to explore the ways that images in social media and digital archives (e.g. newspapers) can help us understand the social impacts of hydroelectricity development over time, and if such insights differ significantly from those provided by conventional social science methods like surveys and interviews. Read this paper for more information.

If you think you have a good alignment with these topics, skills and backgrounds, please get in touch.

The last dam paper (?)

New Brunswick, with dots representing survey respondents, coloured by their Mactaquac preference.

New Brunswick, with dots representing survey respondents, coloured by their Mactaquac preference.

Coincidentally, given the previous post, the last paper out of research that Energy Transitions in Canada undertook on the Mactaquac decision came out today in Water Alternatives. This new open source paper features both qualitative and quantitative analysis of a randomized proportional survey of 500 New Brunswickers implemented back in 2014, before the official public engagement campaign began in earnest. We compare the results of that survey against insights from our qualitative fieldwork with local residents, undertaken in 2013-2014. The paper describes how and why the local and provincial discourses came to align.  It is part of a special issue on dam removal, so thanks to co-editors Chris Sneddon, Régis Barraud, and Marie-Anne Germaine for their hard work on the collection.

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