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

7 June - 17 June, 2021
22 March, 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.     
There are two stages in the course: 
First, selected applicants begin to develop their case studies before coming to the course. After submitting a short description of a case study of a localized energy transition in the application package, selected participants take part in four preparatory webinars organized to guide their fieldwork. The starting point of the fieldwork is observation and primary interpretation of how a specific expected or current energy shift is faced by urban actors (in governance, civil society, business, cultural sector, etc.) and how urban actors respond. How are the specific meanings of energy generation instrumentalized in this process? How do relations between institutions change? What kind of spaces in cities and beyond become prioritized or marginalized? Which urban development and planning paradigms are fostered and which are criticized?  
Second, course participants bring their fieldwork material to CEU and develop it into finished case studies - narrative or visual essay, film, podcast, communication plan, research paper, a design artifact, etc. - in cooperation and critical dialogue with peer participants. The team of the course tutors and lecturers are guiding this process in the format of lectures, workshops, discussions of readings, field visits, and drafts' presentations. The goal is to relate the variety of [ideally conflictual contradictory] arguments about cases of energy transitions from different places and to inform each argument by the wide variety of others.  
Depending on the epidemiological situation, the course includes fieldtrips to Jiu Valley (Romania), as well as to PAKS and Pecs (Hungary) where travel and accommodation will be covered for all participants.
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.).