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Professors in the News: Dr. Shwom is recognized for her recent research and publications

Apr 1, 2012

Rachael Shwom has been invited to present on "Climate Change and Consumption: Identifying Significant Behavioral Opportunities for Mitigation" in February at the Garrison Institute's Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium. The Garrison Institute’s Climate Mind Behavior Project works to integrate emerging research findings about what drives human behavior into new thinking on climate solutions. The symposium convenes leading thinkers and practitioners in the fields of climate change and environmental advocacy, neuro-, behavioral and evolutionary economics, psychology, social networking, policy-making, investing and social media, working together on ways to shift behavior on a large enough scale to realize substantial emissions reductions.

Dr. Shwom has also been invited to present based on recently published paper (A middle range theory of energy politics: The U.S. struggle for energy efficient appliances Environmental Politics. 20:5:706–727) to the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at the University of Colorado. The talk titled: "Change is Inevitable, Except from a Vending Machine: The Dynamics of U.S. Energy Efficiency Politics and the Case of Residential Appliances" looks at how energy politics change over time and the factors that influence how struggles over energy play out. She starts out by building on two competing theories from environmental sociology that provide political economic explanations of environmental degradation and improvement: ecological modernization (EMT) and treadmill of production (TOP). Ecological modernization theory predicts that as capitalist nations develop the environment will improve. Treadmill of production predicts that capitalist development will lead to further environmental degradation. Dr. Shwom adapts these theories to specify the conditions that each theory would best apply to struggles over the energy system. I hypothesize that EMT will prevail when there are high levels of public awareness of an issue, a record of past regulation, a threat of future regulation, and disunity of the business class; and that TOP power relations are more likely to prevail are low public consciousness, absence of past regulation, low threat of future regulation, and high levels of business unity. The usefulness of this contextualized approach is explored using a historical qualitative case study of the struggle in the United States to implement national mandatory and voluntary definitions of energy efficiency for home appliances. The implications of the findings are discussed in light of efforts to transform energy systems.

Congratulations Dr. Shwom, we look forward to hearing about your experiences at these wonderful events!


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