News & Publications



#2021APPAM Blog: Kershaw Lecture - Seeking Energy Justice: Reflections on Research and Professional Impact

Sakshi Bhardwaj
University of Illinois

On Monday, March 28, Paul Decker, president of Mathematica, spoke to the audience about David Kershaw and the Kershaw Award. David Kershaw was the first president of Mathematica. An advocate of evidence, he made outstanding contributions to the realm of public policy. Following his death in 1979, the first David Kershaw award was presented in 1983. This year, the award was presented for the 21st time to Sanya Carley, professor at the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. She is a leading researcher in climate change and equity.

Carley talk was entitled  "Seeking Energy Justice: Reflections on Research and Professional Impact "The energy system in the world is predominantly based on heavy coal, however, the world is moving toward more efficient sources, such as biomass and solar. It is also important for researchers to examine the drawbacks of efficient energy systems. What constitutes a just transition to an efficient energy system? Who benefits and who does not benefit?

U.S. coal mining has declined, especially in the Appalachian region. This has a series of impacts on those living and working there including  household hardship sand transition to new employment.

One in 3 Americans have difficulty paying their energy bills, and 1 in 4 must forego other utilities to pay their energy bill. There have been several deaths from lack of electricity, power outages, and coping methods like using space heaters.

Carley conducted an experimental study tracking low-income families after COVID-19 from April 2020 to May 2021. An inefficient housing condition, the use of at-home electronic medical devices, and household demographics have been found to have a strong correlation with energy insecurity during the pandemic. In fact, studies found that low-carbon technologies are disproportionately owned by wealthy people and are more expensive in marginalized communities.

Equity, justice, and ethics are the last lines of the syllabus in some schools, and few pay attention to them. Carley ended the presentation touching on the need for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary studies with diverse teams to help further the research in the field.  

Back to news