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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Past Events

Find out about some of the previous events held by Durham Energy Institute:

DEI Seminar Series: ‘Disrupting energy research and innovation via the Social Sciences & Humanities: Policy expectations, funding conventions, and visions of interdisciplinarity’

21st March 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, E245, Engineering Department, Dr Chris Foulds

The ways that energy policy and funding institutions are currently organised favour engagement with energy research(ers) from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In contrast, the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) have had much less traction with policy actors, and thus also with those involved in shaping what evidence gets funded to combat policy problems. In reflecting on the challenges and opportunities within this space, this presentation draws on the experiences of co-ordinating the EU energy-related SSH platform (SHAPE ENERGY) and the forthcoming EU energy-related SSH innovation forum (Energy-SHIFTS), both of which have been tasked by the European Commission to raise the profile of SSH amongst EU energy policy actors. But what role is SSH being afforded?

In what ways is SSH being expected to address pre-identified policy priorities, and how much space even is there for SSH to (attempt to) redefine policy approaches? Is SSH being treated as one homogenous mass of ‘people-related perspectives’, or is there appreciation of the diversity of problem definitions and theorisations in play? What evidence is SSH being assumed as being best placed to provide? Which SSH disciplines are getting the most attention? What expectations are there for how SSH should/could engage with STEM energy research? How is SSH funding being monitored across EU (energy) funding programmes? Through exploring such questions, this presentation concludes with thoughts on where policy-driven energy(-SSH) research and innovation may be going over the next 10 years.

Dr Chris Foulds is Principal Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute (Cambridge, UK). He is an interdisciplinary Environmental Social Scientist researching how society and everyday life intersect with policies, governance, consumption, and the built environment. Chris is co-lead of the EU €2m SHAPE ENERGY Platform (2017-2019) and upcoming EU €1m Energy-SHIFTS Forum (2019-2021), both of which advise the European Commission on how energy-related Social Sciences & Humanities should/could feed into its Framework Programmes and policy initiatives. He is currently Principal Investigator of the related EPSRC/UKERC Energy-PIECES project (2018-2019) mentoring Social Sciences & Humanities PhD/early-career researchers through various energy policy opportunities, and is also Co-Investigator of the H2020 €3m RRING project (2018-2021), where he leads a global review on the current state-of-the-art on Responsible Research & Innovation. Chris was Principal Investigator of the EU COSME €250k Energy in Water project (2016-2017). He has a project track record from a range of funders, including EU, UK Research Councils, governments, British Academy, Newton, and consultancy.