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Mines/NREL Nexus Seed Presentation: Understanding the Sociotechnical Ecosystems of Energy Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment

November 30, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


While decarbonization efforts aim to advance global environmental goals, new technological systems may exacerbate or create social inequities and local environmental risks. Typical R&D practices often fail to address complex interplays between society, environment, and technology, including the role of public participation in the R&D process. Initiatives such as Justice40 and requirements to report community impacts of government-funded R&D have provided growing incentives for work across the energy sector to consider the inherent equity and justice dimensions of technological systems, starting from basic science research through technology deployment. Growing social science research has developed frameworks to help support sociotechnical thinking among researchers and educators, ranging from participatory technology assessment (which has been partially funded by the Sloan Foundation) to design justice. With few exceptions, however, these frameworks have not been systematically assessed for their efficacy in encouraging the sociotechnical thinking in R&D that would be necessary to promote justice, nor have they been broadly adopted across energy technology R&D. The energy R&D community therefore lacks evidence-based guidance on best practices for sociotechnical integration in different research contexts. This is an urgent dilemma, given the unprecedented scale of current and future energy R&D investments and their implications for historically marginalized communities. To direct energy R&D toward achieving a just energy future, we will: 1) assess the impacts of sociotechnical integration practices used in ongoing research—considering both formalized frameworks and informal or unintentional strategies—on processes and decision-making in energy R&D, and 2) investigate the ways in which research context shapes those impacts. 



November 30, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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