Dr Askland part of research project to study advocacy coalitions

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Deputy Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, anthropologist Dr Hedda Askland, is part of a multi-institutional research project led by Dr Alfonso M. Arranz at the University of Melbourne, which aims to better understand the mechanics of “advocacy coalitions” as it relates to diverse energy futures.

Smoke stacks

“The project seeks to understand what ‘sustainable energy futures’ are proposed and supported in NSW," Dr Askland explained.

“We want to explore who forms the advocacy coalitions that operate in the NSW renewable and low-carbon technologies space and what their belief systems are. This process will include identifying so-called ‘key opinion leaders’ (KOLs), also known as influencers or thought leaders.”

Dr Askland said the study seeks to learn from interactions between KOLs. “Through a five-staged research approach that combines digital, quantitative and qualitative methodologies, we aim to identify possibilities for consensus around energy futures in New South Wales," Dr Arranz added.

"Consensus implies bringing together all sorts of people and technology experts; so we plan to reach them through a series of steps, including the general survey and semi-structured interviews, as well as an interactive deliberation method (called Delphi Forum). We will also have a final research presentation to communities that will take the form of workshops or town-hall style meeting where we will seek further feedback on the results.”

“Policy proponents can leverage this knowledge for better targeting of funding and resources for energy technologies that have community support.”

The project is funded by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) through its Coal Innovation Fund, as well as the University of Melbourne and the University of Newcastle. The project will result in a report to the NSW Government about advocacy coalitions in the low-carbon emissions sphere in an effort to better understand the debate and community opinions about energy transition. Results will be publicly available in the form of academic publications.

“Our hope is to uncover the most consensual ‘energy future’ that will help rally people towards sustainability," Dr Askland said.

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