Shifting perspectives: insights from the Energy Policy Fellowships

Policy-facing organisations involved in the energy transition can greatly benefit from more and better interaction with experts in social sciences and humanities (SSH). This report chronicles the efforts of the Energy-SHIFTS project to match policy makers to SSH-researchers, connecting policy dilemmas to larger shifts in thinking around energy transitions.
The technology we need to transition to low-carbon energy systems already largely exists: the real bottlenecks are social capabilities for changing systems, political will, and cultural innovation. So shouldn’t policy-makers and researchers be most concerned with asking questions like: how can we transform society to accommodate low-carbon lifestyles and systems? How can we develop new ways of governing? And how do you change behaviours? We think they should, but instead, it’s the tech that gets most of the talk.
The EU-funded Energy-SHIFTS project (Energy Social sciences & Humanities Innovation Forum Targetting the SET-Plan) aims to change this through research-policy dialogue. The project directly connects researchers working across the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) with those on the energy policy ‘frontline’. In the first half of 2020, we matched 21 Policy Fellows – which included one team of three – to 3-6 carefully matched energy-SSH researchers each, for an online conversation and exchange.
This report therefore includes 19 full Fellowship reports, divided over five thematic categories:

  • Citizen Engagement
  • Social Acceptance
  • Just Transitions
  • Behaviours
  • and Human Capital.

We describe the Fellows’ policy context, policy challenges, how they were matched with their Associates, main discussion points and SSH insights generated, as well as how these were translated to policy impacts.
At the end of this report, we highlight cross-thematic issues and reflect on the experiences of both Policy Fellows and SSH researchers, to find out whether the program did indeed enable both parties to strengthen their work through personal connections and a deeper, mutual understanding for each other’s perspectives, as intended.

Click here to download the report
DRIFT team
Tessa de Geus
Nena Bode
Julia Wittmayer

november 17, 2020