Most climate and energy studies conclude that the United States will require a substantial transformation of its energy system in order to address pressing economic, environmental, and geopolitical challenges. But the widespread adoption of new energy technologies will also require a societal transformation.
Through its Alternative Energy Future project, the Academy is working to develop a solid understanding of the legal, social, and economic factors that can either inhibit or facilitate transformative change in the U.S. energy system.
The complex issues shaping the energy future demand interdisciplinary analysis and new collaborations among professional communities. To this end, the Alternative Energy Future project brings together representatives from industry, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector. The Academy organizes workshops to foster new research collaborations and to develop agendas for future research.
The Alternative Energy Future project examines the nontechnological barriers to the adoption of new energy technologies and how these barriers might be overcome.
Current project activities focus on two goals:
- Demonstrating the value of social science in accelerating the process of designing and adopting innovations in the physical energy system. The project committee has identified seven existing energy-related projects that use social science to serve as case studies for this demonstration project.
- Creating a research program aimed at understanding how governing institutions and policy design must adapt to the demands of a changing energy infrastructure. This objective requires building support in both the academic and funding communities for studying issues that have not received much attention.
Recent project activities and publications include:
- Decision Science and Market Transformation Pathways Workshop, Washington, D.C., December 2015 — Workshop Report and Recommendations
- Philanthropic Leadership Symposium: Integrating Social Sciences into Grantmaking, Cambridge, Mass., February 2015
- Applying Behavioral Strategies to Energy Decisions and Behaviors, Pace Law School, White Plains, New York, June 18–19, 2014 — Workshop Summary
- Establishing a Durable Governance Framework for Energy Policy, Cambridge, MA, February 2013 — Summary Statement
- Integrating Social and Behavioral Energy Research Activities, Washington, D.C., November 2012
- Briefing: Building a Practical Energy Policy; held at The National Press Club, April 25, 2012, Washington, D.C.
- The 2011 report Beyond Technology: Strengthening Energy Policy through Social Science presents a social science research agenda on energy and recommends strategies for enhancing collaboration between social scientists and policy-makers.
- Workshop: Social Science and the Alternative Energy Future; held at George Washington University, May 19–20, 2011, Washington, D.C.
- In the Spring 2012 and Winter 2013 issues of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy, over thirty distinguished scholars examine the impending energy transition from a variety of viewpoints.