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New professor studies energy in the emerging interdisciplinary field of sustainability science

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Dean’s Pro­fessor of Sus­tain­ability Sci­ence and Policy Jennie C. Stephens, who joined the North­eastern fac­ulty this fall, says much atten­tion on the “renew­able energy tran­si­tion” has focused on tech­no­log­ical inno­va­tion. Her research, by con­trast, focuses on social, cul­tural, and insti­tu­tional inno­va­tions facil­i­tating social learning within this tran­si­tion.

Jennie Stephens says it’s clear that the world is tran­si­tioning away from fossil fuels toward renewable-based sys­tems for the majority of our energy needs. How long will this tran­si­tion take? No one knows, but in the U.S., renew­able energy power capacity is growing much faster than fore­casts in years past have predicted.

Stephens, who joined the North­eastern fac­ulty this fall, says much atten­tion on the “renew­able energy tran­si­tion” has focused on tech­no­log­ical inno­va­tion. Her research, by con­trast, focuses on social, cul­tural, and insti­tu­tional inno­va­tions facil­i­tating social learning within this tran­si­tion. That is, she focuses on under­standing how the social dynamics—including polit­ical power, insti­tu­tional norms, and gender— influ­ence deploy­ment of wind power, solar, and smart grids.

Read the full story at news@Northeastern.

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