A snap of Social Sciences & Humanities (SSH) in the energy!

The SSH Consortium has held its 3rd workshop on June 2, 2023, in Energypolis, Sion.

The SSH community includes researchers from social sciences, humanities, and political sciences who share a common interest in the energy sector. In this blog post, we will delve into the vision of the group, explore past workshops, discuss the recent inclusive workshop, and highlight the importance of collaboration and transdisciplinarity.

The SSH community aims to bridge the gap between the energy sector and the social sciences, humanities, and political sciences. It starts from the recognition that energy is not only a technical problem; rather, it is embedded into a broader history of human. The energy transition is a scientific necessity to avoid the worst consequences of climate change and a narrative that encompasses societal, cultural, and political aspects.

The SWEET Lantern, with its emphasis on transdisciplinarity, offers a platform for researchers to explore connections between disciplines and address complex energy challenges.


Retrospective on Past Workshops:

The SSH community has already organized two workshops in the past, each with its unique focus and outcomes. The first workshop took place in Martigny, predominantly attended by senior researchers. This initial gathering served as a platform to initiate discussions and lay the foundation for future collaborations, starting from the presentation of many specific research projects everyone was doing or envisaging.

The second workshop, held in Murten, was a turning point for the SSH Group. It provided an opportunity for researchers to shape together the urgent agenda for common works by choosing impact as major feature and identifying research directions capable of transforming the energy sector. 

From the workshop, held taking a living lab co-design flavour, five prominent topics emerged, urgent, transformational and underfunded. These topics were later documented in a shart and concise paper, reminding that “energy research (ER) largely remains the remit of hard sciences, such as climatology, physics, and engineering. Contributions of social sciences and humanities (SSH) are routinely separated and rarely considered in discussions about energy strategies. This is particularly problematic because citizens have a role to play in the decarbonization of energy systems through the pursuit of more localized and collective forms of renewable energy production, reduced and more efficient energy usage, and voting for necessary regulatory change”.

Co-organised by HES-SO Valais Wallis (Institute of Sustainable Energy) and the University of Bern (Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research), the third workshop in Sion has held five parallel hybrid sessions, each coping with one of the commonly identified priorities, laying the ground for a book, showing how positively build a new way to interact with the broader scientific community engaged in the energy field.

Towards more impactful energy research:
The salient role of social sciences and humanities

Media : PLOS Climate, UK, Februrary 2023
Article written by Gracia Brückmann, University of Bern