By Amanda Dewey
Dr. Stern argues that social scientists need to identify influential research topics with the potential to significantly affect energy use, while also focusing on problems that allow them to add explanatory value beyond what other disciplines can offer. Dr. Stern discussed the ways that social science has tended to focus on energy issues or behaviors that have limited potential for positive change in energy terms. Specifically seeking targets that have this greater potential can allow social science to have increased real-world influence.
This presentation helps us to consider the ways that social science could directly impact energy use and transition beyond “pure” research that reaches limited audiences. Through projects analyzing such topics as household behaviors, social aspects of emerging technologies, and behavioral components of organizational energy use, social science can inform a changing energy landscape. Following the April 22nd March for Science, this project contributes to an emerging discussion about the role of science in policy and social change.