Energising the future, with Prof Jennie C Stephens

Inside Ideas with Marc Buckley

Dec 2020

1 hr 11 min

Jennie is the Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

She is also the Director for Strategic Research Collaborations at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute, and is affiliated with the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the department of Cultures, Societies & Global Studies. Her research, teaching, and community engagement focus on integrating social justice, feminist, and anti-racist perspectives into climate and energy resilience, social and political aspects of the renewable energy transition, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, energy democracy, gender in energy and climate, and climate and energy justice. Her unique transdisciplinary approach integrates innovations in social science and public policy with science and engineering to promote social justice, reduce inequalities and redistribute power (electric power, economic power and political power). In her book Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy published by Island Press in 2020, she argues that effectively addressing climate change requires diversifying leadership, redistributing wealth and power, and moving beyond mainstream male-dominated technocratic solutions to climate change. Throughout her career she has explored institutional and cultural innovation in the energy sector, including gender diversity, energy democracy, and technological optimism as well as the “usability” of climate science in climate resilience efforts. Professor Stephens was a 2015-2016 Leopold Leadership fellow, and her book “Smart Grid (R)Evolution: Electric Power Struggles” (Cambridge University Press, 2015) explores social and cultural debates about energy system change (co-authored with Wilson & Peterson). Before coming to Northeastern, Professor Stephens was on the faculty at the University of Vermont (2014-2016) and Clark University (2005-2014). She did post-doctoral research at Harvard’s Kennedy School and she has taught courses at Tufts, Boston University, and MIT. She earned her PhD at the California Institute of Technology in Environmental Science & Engineering and her BA at Harvard University in Environmental Science and Policy. Jennie is an educator, a social justice advocate, an energy expert, and a sustainability science researcher. She is Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University in Boston, where she is also the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy, Director of Strategic Research Collaborations at the Global Resilience Institute, and a member of the Executive Committee of Northeastern’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. She has written on this topic for professional and mainstream media including Science and the Wall Street Journal. Her latest book is Diversifying Power: Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership on Climate and Energy.

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