Anthropology, Cultural studies, Environmental studies, Geography, Political science, Urban Studies

Photo by Pavel Anoshin on Unsplash

Co-funded by the Open Society University Network (OSUN)


Course date

4 May - 18 June, 2021
19 April, 2021
Course Director(s): 

Michael LaBelle

Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy/Department of Economics and Business, CEU, Budapest, Hungary/Vienna, Austria

Erzsébet Strausz

Department of International Relations, CEU, Budapest, Hungary/Vienna, Austria
Course Faculty: 

Ian Cook

Center for Media, Data and Society at CEU's Democracy Institute, CEU, Budapest, Hungary

Siarhei Liubimau

Department of Social Science, European Humanities University, Vilnius, Lithuania

Asta Vonderau

Department of Anthropology and Philosophy, Martin Luther University, Halle, Germany
This course brings together people with their own local stories of the struggles and success of people and communities transitioning towards a sustainable energy system. Participants in this course will learn the skills to tell stories and multi-media narratives around energy transitions. The instructors will assist participates in using research methods to identify core transition themes and present these through a multi-media lens, such as articles, podcasts, and stories. 
The research scaffolding focuses on four cultural dimensions of an energy shift: a) every day of communities formed around specific energy generations; b) meanings of work, employment and the corporate cultures related to particular energy generations; c) symbols of distinct energy generations in institutionalized long-lasting political ideologies; and d) notions and arguments regarding justice in energy policies. Those cultural dimensions help to develop sensitivity to complex relational spatiality of a specific energy generation project, to its actors and related policies.     

Online course format 

The course is organized around three main units – ‘people’, ‘energy’ and ‘storytelling’ – that creatively work with different aspects of energy transitions in the form of lectures, workshops as well as individual and team projects.
UNIT 1 ‘People’ consists of a series of skills-training workshops spread over a month that focus on how to study social relations, lived experiences and practices of everyday life. Methods introduced in this unit include participatory action research, ethnography and other creative research practices, enabling participants to widen their horizons of social research and work on a project of their choice.
UNIT 2 ‘Energy’ is built around team projects designed by participants themselves. Lectures offer conceptual tools and showcase best practices for studying different meanings and practices of meaning-making in energy transitions. Team workshops and social events embed the research process in a participatory framework, facilitating collaboration, sharing and inspiration within and across projects.
UNIT 3 ‘Storytelling’ specifically engages with how to use different narrative structures and presentation styles effectively in presenting research findings. Workshops and consultations help to refine team projects and prepare them for a final presentation event.  
Unit 1: May 4, 11, 18, 25 (4 weekend sessions)
Unit 2: June 9 – 11
Unit 3: June 14 – 18
A graduate of this course will be equipped to do case centered and comparative multiscalar urban studies of energy shifts (with awareness of conceptual apparatuses needed, ability to identify empirical fields and organise fieldwork, ability to make participatory alliances with local development organizations, urban planning, cultural sector, etc.).