Community Engaged Research for Just Energy Services Transitions

People do not need kilowatts; instead, they need the multitude of services provided by access to energy, including thermal comfort, refrigeration of food and medicine, cooking, lighting, communication, and transportation. As socio-technological systems experience rapid transitions associated with addressing climate change, inequity in access, aging infrastructures, and the negative socio-environmental consequences of current energy systems, addressing justice is paramount. Taking an energy services approach changes how we approach energy systems research and pursuit of energy justice, and community engagement is an essential tool for promoting just processes and outcomes. In this talk, Dr. Schelly presents some of her research collaborative research using community engagement research methods to promote just energy services access through energy systems transitions. Key takeaways from this work include the importance of collaboration across institutional domains, the complex implications of pursuing of energy sovereignty, and the role of ontological pluralism in supporting meaningful engagement that can support energy justice and a transition to a decarbonized energy system.

Chelsea Schelly is a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University. Dr. Schelly is an expert in the social dimensions of socio-technological system transitions, and particularly in the use of community engagement and social science research methods to better understand the perceptual, behavioral, and regulatory opportunities and barriers associated with technological changes impacting energy services provision. Dr. Schelly’s research emphasizes engagement, equity, and just process and outcomes as key to the transitions that are necessary to address planetary metacrises. Dr. Schelly has published two books, two co-edited volumes, over 40 sole or co-authored academic papers, and over 30 sole or co-authored book chapters and other publications. Dr. Schelly is an active graduate advisor in the Environmental and Energy Policy (MS and PhD), Sustainable Communities (MS), and Forest Science (PhD) programs.

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