The Social Dimensions of Energy Transitions

In tandem with the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21)* in Paris, explore insight shared by CSPO faculty and affiliates regarding climate change and social impacts.
*(Refers to countries that signed up to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.)

Clark Miller is Associate Director for Faculty and Associate Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. His interests focus on science, technology & globalization, with a particular emphasis on the design and critical analysis of knowledge systems in support of international and global policymaking. He is also interested in the governance challenges posed by new and emerging technologies and the social sustainability of transitions in complex, large-scale, socio-technological systems.

wind-energy-WebOver the next half century or more, the world will undergo one of the most momentous technological transformations in history, replacing existing energy systems with alternatives. This transformation will not leave society untouched. Among technological infrastructures, energy systems are arguably the mostly deeply embedded in modern economies and societies. Reconfiguring them will pose profound technological, social, and economic challenges. As a result, energy system change will be highly disruptive to many businesses and communities. At ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society we are leaders in assessing the social dimensions of energy transitions, with a view toward significantly improving understanding of the social drivers, dynamics, and outcomes of energy systems change. Our work is contributing to a better understanding of how and under what conditions energy innovation occurs and how social and policy innovation can accelerate technological change. We are developing strategies for socio-technological design and innovation that optimize the long-lasting, positive societal value, benefits, and outcomes of energy transitions that ensure appropriate integration of energy systems with organizational and behavioral practices and routines, and reduce social resistance to new energy technologies. We are identifying and analyzing the social and economic disruptions caused by energy systems change, with an eye toward strategies to minimize such disruptions and/or proactively address them before they occur. We are working with communities to develop strategies for bottom-up energy innovation that can not only speed decarbonization but extend and expand energy services in ways that enhance human thriving.


Alastair Iles, Clark A. Miller, and Christopher Jones, eds. The Social Dimensions of Energy Transitions. Special Issue: Science as Culture 22(2). 2013. 112 pp.

Clark A. Miller, Jennifer Richter, and Jason O’Leary, “Socio-Energy Systems Design: A Policy Framework for Energy Transitions,” Energy Research and Social Science 6:29-40. 2015. Published online at:

Clark A. Miller, Carlo Altamirano-Allende, Nathan Johnson, Malena Agyemang, “The Social Value of Mid-Scale Energy in Africa: Redefining Value and Redesigning Energy to Reduce Poverty,” Energy Research and Social Science. 2015. Published online at:

Clark A. Miller, Jason O’Leary, Elisabeth Graffy, Ellen Stechel, Gary Dirks, “Narrative Futures and the Governance of Energy Transitions,” Futures. 2015. Published online at:

Clark A. Miller and Jennifer Richter, “Social Planning for Energy Transitions,” Current Sustainable/Renewable Energy Reports 1(3): 77-84. 2014.

Clark A. Miller, “The Ethics of Energy Transitions,” Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology. 2014. DOI: 10.1109 / ETHICS.2014.6893445.

Hirsh, Richard F., and Christopher F. Jones. “History’s contributions to energy research and policy.” Energy Research & Social Science 1 (2014): 106-111.

Pfotenhauer, S. M., Jones, C. F., Saha, K., & Jasanoff, S. (2012). Learning from Fukushima. Issues in Science and Technology28(3), 79-84.

Jones, Christopher F., Shi-Lin Loh, and Kyoko Sat?. “Narrating Fukushima: scales of a nuclear meltdown.” East Asian Science, Technology and Society 7.4 (2013): 601-623.

Jones, Christopher F. “Building more just energy infrastructure: lessons from the past.” Science as Culture 22.2 (2013): 157-163.

Bhadra, Monamie. “Fighting Nuclear Energy, Fighting for India’s Democracy.” Science as Culture 22.2 (2013): 238-246.

Bhadra, Monamie. “India’s Nuclear Power Problem.” The Cairo Review of Global Affairs (2012).

Moore, Sharlissa. “Envisioning the social and political dynamics of energy transitions: Sustainable energy for the Mediterranean region.” Science as Culture 22.2 (2013): 181-188.

Moore, Sharlissa, and Edward J. Hackett. “The construction of technology and place: Concentrating solar power conflicts in the United States.” Energy Research & Social Science 11 (2016): 67-78.

Clark A. Miller, “Energy Justice: Ensuring Human Dignity in the Post-Carbon Future,” The Cairo Review of Global Affairs. Spring. Pp. 46-59. 2012.

Clark A. Miller and Sharlissa Moore, eds. Arizona’s Energy Future.  Phoenix: Arizona Town Hall. 2011. 164 pp.

Schneider, Jen, Abraham SD Tidwell, and Savannah Avgerinos Fitzwater. “The Nuclear Pipeline: Integrating Nuclear Power and Climate Change.” Engineering Identities, Epistemologies and Values. Springer International Publishing, 2015. 271-286.

Tidwell, Abraham SD, and Jessica M. Smith. “Morals, Materials, and Technoscience The Energy Security Imaginary in the United States.” Science, Technology & Human Values (2015): 0162243915577632.

Graffy, Elisabeth, and Steven Kihm. “Does disruptive competition mean a death spiral for electric utilities.” Energy LJ 35 (2014): 1.