The course Governing Energy Transitions uses the ‘solar turn’ in energy transition as an entry point to understand the conjuncture of institutional, relational, and material change. Varying spatial and scalar configurations of solar uptake are unpacked and analysed (a) in relation to the diverse effects they imply within particular political economic contexts, and (b) the insights they provide about these contexts.
Students discuss different conceptual and analytical approaches to apprehend the relationship between energy and society, and problematise the nature of participation, engagement, and decision-making in energy transitions. Course deliverables include a 30 minute oral presentation and a 3,000 word conceptual essay on accountability as a lens onto the governance of energy transitions.
The course is organised as three modules during the spring semester and a final meeting for reflection. The first module focusses on theorising the ‘solar turn’ in energy transition through three constituent changes: institutional, relational, and material. Students must draw on course texts and are encouraged to identify additional pertinent literature. Particular emphasis is laid on historical institutional energy sector structures, the evolution of energy infrastructure, and changing social imaginaries of energy transitions over time and also across the spatial scale. This module aims to equip students with a basic but holistic appreciation of the structural, relational, and material context of solar energy.
The second module requires each student to pick a context within which to map the drivers and inhibitors of solar energy uptake, mobilising the vectors of change covered in the first module. Course participants undertake a mapping of the political economy of solar uptake in their context of choice, building a customised list of readings and conducting desk-based research on policy trends, media coverage, public discourse, and socio-technical aspects. This feeds directly into a 30 minute oral presentation delivered to peers by each course participant and discussed in the classroom. Some abstraction from the context to understandings of energy governance prevalent in thematic scholarship is expected.
The third module introduces prominent analytical frameworks from energy transitions research, as well as an accountability analysis approach developed by the course responsible. The necessity of interdisciplinarity and bridging between environmental humanities and social science frameworks on energy governance is a key topic for discussion. Course participants are challenged to come up with their own synthesised approaches to analyse energy transitions, in productive tension with the proposition that energy transitions require resolving accountability crises that characterise most energy sectors. This provides the basis for the final essay, wherein engagement with accountability and energy democracy is encouraged.
Finally, we meet to discuss individual long-form essay outputs, and learnings from the course.
A minimum of 5 registered students will be required for the course to be offered during the semester in question.
Course participants will gain the following new knowledge, skills, and general competencies:
A deeper understanding of scholarly literature on energy transitions governance.
Explication of the relationship between accountability, governance and energy transitions.
An understanding of the scope for and challenge of generating actionable knowledge.
Application of state-of-the-art theoretical and analytical frameworks to a specific energy transition.
A refined approach to crafting a robust argument on a practical theme anchored in scholarly literature.
The ability to make a formal oral presentation and engage in structured peer discussion on debates.
Facilitated experience in applying research insights to a real-world problem in an independent process
Required prerequisite knowledge
It is recommended, but not mandatory, that participants complete the course MEE100 Societal Transition and Transformation: Energy and Climate Change.
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Form of assessment
Participation in groups
The course will balance the delivery of substantive content on governing energy transitions with training on how to construct a robust written argument anchored in this thematic literature and explain it to peers. It is organised as three modules, clustered in 2-4 sessions of three hours each (typically scheduled for January, February and March), followed by a closing meeting in April.Module 1 imparts and discusses key concepts and equips participants with tools to compose a thematic essay. Module 2 offers students a chance to give an oral presentation of their draft essay and discuss it with their peers - active commenting on other participants' essays is expected. Module 3 discusses the essays in relation to existing theoretical and analytical frameworks on governing energy transitions. The final essay is due shortly after the third module, and is discussed individually in the closing meeting.
Modules are spread across January-April. Active classroom participation in all modules is expected. Most classroom sessions do not clash with other M-EES courses on offer during the spring semester.
Classroom sessions will take a knowledge co-production approach and embody research-based teaching. The course responsible will facilitate the development of competences and make thematic expertise available, based on experience with energy transitions governance scholarship. The format will be classroom discussion in a workshop setting, based on course texts and participants' draft essays. Each participant will give a 30-minute oral presentation of their draft essay during the course, thus contributing content for peers to engage with. The course responsible will ease participants' engagement with course texts but expect participants to contribute perspectives based on detailed reading ahead of the sessions.
The course aims to address two aspects of student learning through an innovative approach:
(i) Deeper substantive engagement with the scholarly literature on energy transitions governance. This is ensured through classroom discussions and composing an individual long-form thematic essay, with inputs from the course responsible on state-of-the-art thematic debates and frameworks.
(ii) The ability to craft a robust argument and relate it to wider scholarship. This is addressed through oral presentations by students in the classroom and discussion with peers grounded in thematic scholarship.
There must be an early dialogue between the course coordinator, the student representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital course evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.