CERC & CCBN Joint Seminar – Maybe clean-energy research and researchers needs to engage differently to face the climate-and-ecological crisis?


In many academic fields, science engagement is becoming a greater priority in the form of science communication and engaging with policymakers and practitioners. Energy research in particular has an obvious role in light of the centrality of energy transitions to addressing the climate crisis. Calls for system change seem to be the domain of activists, not academics. In this research-rooted talk, I consider the possibility that the climate-and-ecological crisis demands a re-think of all this. In particular, I argue that calls for system change have a clear basis in rigorous interdisciplinary research. I will discuss what this might mean for both science and engagement, and propose that perhaps we need a widespread focus on social-ecological transformation extending beyond energy systems, and a new set of pathways and approaches to engage with decision-makers and the public using science.


Dr. Kai Chan is a professor and Canada Research Chair at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. Kai is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented sustainability scientist, trained in ecology, policy, and ethics from Princeton and Stanford Universities. He strives to understand how social-ecological systems can be transformed to be both better and wilder. Kai leads CHANS lab (Connecting Human and Natural Systems), and is co-founder of CoSphere (a Community of Small-Planet Heroes). Dr. Chan has published more than 150 articles and chapters including in Nature, Science, and PNAS, with an h-index of 53 and an i-index of 108 (over 23,500 citations total). In addition, he has over 60 other academic publications and over 135 op-eds, columns, and other outreach publications.

Dr. Chan has garnered over $14M in research funding, including more than $2.5M as principal investigator. He is a member of Canada’s Clean16 and Clean50 for 2020; a UBC Killam Research Fellow; a Leopold Leadership Program fellow; senior fellow of the Global Young Academy and of the Environmental Leadership Program; a member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists; Lead Editor of the new British Ecological Society journal People and Nature. He was a coordinating lead author for the IPBES Global Assessment; a director on the board of the North American section of the Society for Conservation Biology; and (in 2012) the Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Meeting ID: 652 2264 9515
Passcode: 2360