The American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ project on the Alternative Energy
Future is examining the legal, social, and economic implications and challenges
of transitioning to a greater reliance on cleaner energy technologies. Changing
the existing technological infrastructure will require modifications to legal, social,
and economic structures as well. However, many of the societal considerations underlying
these necessary changes have not been adequately addressed.
To assess how the social sciences could help address these considerations and inform
energy policies and decisions, the Academy convened a diverse group of experts from
industry, government, and academia at a workshop in Washington, D.C., on May 19–20,
2011. We are indebted to the workshop participants, who enthusiastically embraced
the task at hand to identify many priorities for future social science research
and for new collaborations between social scientists and policy makers.
A diverse expert steering group oversaw the design of the workshop and worked diligently
to distill the participants’ suggestions into the strategies and recommendations
presented in this report. This steering group included Steve Ansolabehere, Doug
Arent, Ann Carlson, Tom Dietz, Kelly Sims Gallagher, Granger Morgan, Maxine Savitz,
Paul Stern, Jim Sweeney, and Mike Vandenbergh. Special thanks go to John Randell,
Hellman Fellow and Program Associate for Science Policy at the Academy, who organized
the workshop and, with the assistance of the Academy’s editorial team, coordinated
the drafting and production of this report.
The workshop was funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science
Foundation (NSF), and we are deeply grateful for the support and guidance of Steve
Koonin, Cora Marrett, and Myron Gutmann. We would also like to thank Holmes Hummel,
Cynthia Lin, and Linda Blevins at DOE and Rita Teutonico at NSF for their many helpful
suggestions. It is our hope that this report will encourage new dialogue between
these agencies and others on how to strengthen our energy system through the application
of knowledge from the social and behavioral sciences.
We also acknowledge support for the Alternative Energy Future project from two anonymous
foundations and from contributors to the American Academy Intellectual Venture Fund,
including The Fremont Group, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Novartis.
The Academy’s Alternative Energy Future committee will continue to work with
government agencies, industry leaders, and nongovernmental organizations to promote
multidisciplinary research on energy production and use. A greater appreciation
for the contributions and value of the social sciences will be critical for maximizing
the return on our nation’s investments in new technologies and for securing
our energy future.
Robert W. Fri, Workshop Chair
Resources for the Future
Leslie C. Berlowitz
President and William T. Golden Chair
American Academy of Arts and Sciences