Power Station

The Center for Environmental Politics organizes a monthly colloquium series on environmental politics, policy, and governance. This series is made possible by the generous support of Gary and Susan Duck, UW alumni and long-standing benefactors of the department. Susan passed away in December 2015 after a prolonged illness. We miss her a lot.

The Duck Family Colloquium Series is managed by graduate students. For 2021-2022, Inhwan Ko (Political Science Ph.D. Candidate) will serve as the Richard B. Wesley Fellow in Environmental Politics and Governance and the chair of the Duck Family Colloquium series. The Center will host the following seminars, as described below.

2022-2023 Events

Prof. Leaf Van Boven

Leaf Van Boven
Professor & Chair of the Dept. of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Boulder

Friday,October 7, 2022

Noon – 1:30pm PDT, The Olson Room (Gowen Hall 1A), University of Washington, Seattle.

“Psychological Barriers to Addressing Climate Change and COVD—And How to Overcome Them”

Addressing the most pressing issues of our time, from climate change to Covid-19, requires enacting effective public policies. What are the psychological barriers to broad public support for such policies? What do these barriers tell us about how the social mind works? Our work suggests that liberals and conservatives disagree about effective policy solutions mainly for disagreement’s sake. Ordinary liberals and conservatives support climate and Covid-19 policies when political leaders from their party support them more than the same policies proposed by political leaders from the opposing political party. Such arbitrary partisanship is multiply determined. In part, people expect their partisan peers to toe the party line and they follow these partisan norms. Ordinary partisans also dislike and distrust members of the opposing political party, which undermines support for proposals from opposing parties. Although daunting, an appreciation of psychological barriers suggests strategies to overcome them. For example, policies proposed by trusted experts and bipartisan coalitions prevent polarization. Learning about widespread bipartisan support from ordinary people increases people’s policy support. And highlighting people’s values regarding good citizenship reduces political polarization. These findings illustrate how psychological scientists can help solve daunting societal challenges.

Biography: Leaf Van Boven is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. He has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Washington (1995) and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Cornell University (2000). Professor Van Boven’s research integrates social, environmental, and political psychology. He uses laboratory experiments, national surveys, and field studies to examine the processes that shape people’s everyday lives. His research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation. Professor Van Boven co-directs the Environment, Decision, Judgment, and Identity lab and the Center for Creative Climate Communication and Behavior Change.

Prof. Stephanie Pincetl

Stephanie Pincetl
Professor, UCLA Institute of the Environment

Friday, November 4, 2022

Noon – 1:30pm PDT, The Olson Room (Gowen Hall 1A), University of Washington, Seattle.

“The Contentious Question of Urban Water Conservation in Southern California”

Stephanie Pincetl is a Professor and founding Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities at the UCLA Institute of the Environment. Dr. Pincetl conducts research on environmental policies and governance is expert in bringing together interdisciplinary teams of researchers across the biophysical and engineering sciences with the social sciences to address problems of complex urban systems and environmental management. Her commitment is to science in the public interest and to conducting science that advances social and environmental justice. She conducts research on cities, how they impact resources far and near such as energy sources and energy distribution systems, and how such resources are used in cities, where, by whom, and to do what. She focuses on quantifying those flows, including urban generated wastes like greenhouse gases, and how institutions, regulations and rules shape the ways the flows are appropriated, and how cities are built (including infrastructures) and organized. She has created the first ever interactive energy web atlas that describes building energy use in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area ( She has conducted extensive California Energy Commission, Strategic Growth Council and County research on energy and sustainability, and has written extensively about California land use.

Prof. Dana R. Fisher

Dana R. Fisher
Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland

Friday, January 13, 2023

Noon – 1:30pm PDT, The Olson Room (Gowen Hall 1A), University of Washington, Seattle.

“Service, Strategy, and Sustainability in the Climate Movement”

Dana R. Fisher is a Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of Maryland and the President-Elect of the Eastern Sociological Society. Her research focuses on questions related to democracy, civic engagement, activism, and climate politics — most recently studying political elites’ responses to climate change, the emergent US Civilian Climate Corps, and activism around climate, systemic racism, and the American Resistance. Professor Fisher has authored over seventy research papers and book chapters and has written six books. Her seventh book, Saving Ourselves: From Climate Shocks to Climate Action, is currently under contract with Columba University Press. She served as a Contributing Author for Working Group 3 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Review (IPCC AR6) writing about citizen engagement and civic activism. In 2021-22, she is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Governance Studies program at The Brookings Institution and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in The John W Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. Her media appearances include CNN, MSNBC, PBS Newshour, and various programs on NPR. Her words have appeared in the popular media, including in the Washington Post, Slate, TIME Magazine, Politico, Business Insider and the American Prospect. Fisher holds a Ph.D. and Master of Science degree from the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her undergraduate degree is in East Asian Studies and Environmental Studies from Princeton University.

Prof. Sikina Jinnah

Sikina Jinnah
Associate Professor, Environmental Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz

Friday, February 10, 2023

Noon – 1:30pm PDT, The Olson Room (Gowen Hall 1A), University of Washington, Seattle.

“Climate Engineering: A proposal for immediate governance”

Sikina Jinnah is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at University of California at Santa Cruz, and a 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. She holds a PhD from UC Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Her research focuses on global environmental governance, in particular in the areas of climate change, climate engineering, and the nexus between international trade and environmental politics. Her first book (Post-treaty Politics. MIT Press 2014) received the 2016 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for best book in international environmental affairs from the International Studies Association and her second monograph (Greening through Trade, MIT Press 2020) was a finalist for the 2021 Canadian Political Science Association Prize in International Relations. Dr. Jinnah’s research has also been published in several scholarly journals, including: International Studies Review, Global Environmental Politics, Nature Geoscience, Environmental Research Letters, Global Governance, Global Policy, Climate Policy, and Science. She edits the journal Environmental Politics, is on the editorial board for the journal Global Environmental Politics, and is a member of the Stratospheric Controlled Outdoor Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) Advisory Committee. You can learn more about her work at Twitter: @SJinnah2

Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool

Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool
Professor of Earth and Environment, Boston University

Friday, March 3, 2023

Noon – 1:30pm PDT, The Olson Room (Gowen Hall 1A), University of Washington, Seattle.

“Rethinking Energy Poverty and Best Practices for the Governance of Distributed Renewable Energy Access”

Abstract: Over one billion people—one in five globally—lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business. Many more only have access to poor quality service. Widespread access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy is critical for achieving inclusive, low-emissions growth and development. But which technologies, and business models work? Which don’t? This presentation demonstrates how small-scale renewable energy technologies such as solar panels, cookstoves, biogas digesters, microhydro units, and wind turbines are helping planners eradicate energy poverty and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through an in-depth exploration of case studies in Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka, the presentation highlights the applicability of different approaches to the promotion of renewable energy in developing countries. It also illuminates how household and commercial innovations occur (or fail to occur) within particular energy governance regimes. It lastly, and uniquely, explores successful case studies alongside failures or “worst practice” examples that are often just as revealing as those that met their targets. Based on these successes and failures, the presentation presents salient lessons for policymakers and practitioners wishing to expand energy access and raise standards of living in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Earth and Environment at Boston University in the United States, as well as Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom. He is also University Distinguished Professor of Business & Social Sciences at Aarhus University in Denmark. Professor Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to energy policy, energy justice, energy security, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, the ethics and morality of energy decisions, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change. His research has been endorsed by U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, and the late Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, among others. He is a Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), due to be published in 2022, and an Advisor on Energy to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation in Brussels, Belgium. He has played a leadership role in winning collaborative research grants worth more than $28.2 million in directly managed funds, including those from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. National Science Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program of Denmark, the Danish Council for Independent Research, the European Commission and the European Research Council. In the United Kingdom, he has served as a Principal Investigator on projects funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He is the recipient of multiple national and international awards and honors, including the “Distinguished Graduate Alumni Achievement Award” from his Alma Mater Virginia Tech, the 2019 USERN Prize for his work on “Social Justice in an Era of Climate Change and Energy Scarcity,” the “Dedication to Justice Award” given by the American Bar Association, and a “Distinguished Visiting Energy Professorship” at the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School. With much coverage of his work in the international news media, he is one of the most highly cited global researchers on issues bearing on controversies in energy and climate policy.

Prof. Gerald Torres

Prof. Gerald Torres
Professor of Environmental Justice, Yale School of the Environment & Professor, Yale Law School

Friday, May 5, 2023

Noon – 1:30pm PDT, The Olson Room (Gowen Hall 1A), University of Washington, Seattle.

“Environmental Justice and Climate Justice: The Role of Social Movements in Policy Creation”

Gerald Torres is a Professor of Environmental Justice at the Yale School of the Environment and a Professor at the Yale Law School. He is former President of the Association of American Law Schools and has taught at Stanford Law School and at Harvard Law School, where he served as the Oneida Nation Visiting Professor of Law. Professor Torres served as Counsel to the Attorney General on environmental matters and Indian affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Torres has served on the board of the Environmental Law Institute, the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and the National Petroleum Council. He is board chair of and founding Chairman of the Advancement Project, a leading Civil Rights advocacy organization. He is a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Professor Torres is on the Advisory Council of The Connecticut Sea Grant. He has served as a consultant to the United Nations on environmental matters and is a life member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Past Events