Under the banner of "energy transition", energy-related stakes and issues stand high on the media and public policy agenda. But when it comes to the implementation of this transition,many debates and controversies arise. For instance, renewable energy production contributes to
global challenges for the energy-climate issue, but can give rise to acute conflicts around local projects, which some researchers have characterized as "green on green" controversies (Warrenet al., 2005). More broadly, energy issues engage a wealth of different actors and sectors, far beyond the technical developments.
This seminar will enable students to consider energy issues with a sociological stance, resting on the contributions of Science and Technology Studies (STS), a branch of sociology and history devoted to the study of science and technology issues, as well as insights from opinion sociology and public policy analysis centred on energy issues.
Therefore, the seminar is at the same time an introduction to STS and to energy sociology. An introductory lecture will provide hints about how social science can deal with energy issues, situating strands of STS, public decision theory, and critically considering what public opinion theory can bring to understand the stakes of opinion polls on energy. The red thread of the seminar will then be the reading of a corpus of research articles in the sociology of science and technology, in a broad definition encompassing discourses, governance and imaginaries. This will lead these students with a technical background to reflect on the scientific and technologic development activity with a sociological point of view, on topics such as knowledge production, innovation, or decision-making methods concerning major technological projects. As lessons learnt from past transitions can provide valuable insights to consider the present and future in
an informed manner, these research articles rest on case studies in the energy sector, in several countries and time periods.
Following a usual teaching way in sociology, the course will be based on the reading of research articles. After the introductory lecture, each session will be devoted to two texts. Each of these texts will be presented by students, individually or by pairs, in a 20 minute frame. Then the presentation of the texts will be extended by the lecturer, in order to introduce a general discussion in the group. Non-presenting students are asked to read at least one of the two research articles prior to each seminar, and to be prepared to make at least one comment or remark (or ask a question) about it. Basing on articles in this corpus, analyses and discussions in the seminar will browse through diverse methods and strands of social science dealing with energy issues. The evaluation will be based on the students’ oral presentation of research articles in the corpus (60%) as well as a short essay resuming the main points of the presented text and engaging critically with it at the light of the reflexions and discussions conducted in the course, to be submitted at the latest on March 19th (40 %). Questions will be provided by the lecturer before each session to direct the readings and prepare the reflexion for the final essay.