General information

Module title Just transition to low carbon economies
Language English
Module lecturer prof. UAM dr hab. Aleksandra Lis-Plesińska
Lecturer's email
Lecturer position Professor
Faculty Faculty of Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Semester 2022/2023 (winter)
Duration 30


Module aim (aims)

The aim of this module is to present students with the concept of just transition to low carbon economies and to critically discuss different cases of transition. We will deal with the following processes: phasing out coal in vulnerable regions, renewable energy project – their positives and downsides, electric mobility – its societal distribution and energy poverty. The main conceptual apparatus that will be proposed to frame our discussions are different types of justice: distributional, procedural, justice as recognition, epistemic justice. We will discuss different visions of energy futures and socio-technical imaginaries as institutionalized and embedding transition processes in different contexts.

Pre-requisites in terms of knowledge, skills and social competences (where relevant)

It is required that participants in this course have a good command of English language – both in speaking and reading – as many readings will be assigned for each class.


Week 1: Introduction: climate change, energy transition and social justice


Week 2: Concepts: dimensions of environmental and energy justice


Week 3: Images, imaginaries and visions of energy future


Week 4: Multilevel perspective on the transition of socio-technical systems


Week 5: Phasing out coal – visions and vulnerabilities


Week 6: Renewable energy sources – green and black renewables


Week 7: Energy consumption and practice theory


Week 8: Energy poverty – how to measure and how to address it


Week 9: Sustainable transportation – urban perspectives


Week 10: Electric mobility – for whom?


Week 11: Autonomous vehicles – a seductive vision of a robot taxi


Week 12: Just transition – global perspectives


Week 13: Students’ presentations


Week 14: Students’ presentations


Week 15: Students’ presentations

Reading list

Recommended readings:


High, Mette M. and Jessica M. Smith. 2019. Energy and Ethics? Special Issues of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 25(S1)

Mitchell, T. 2011. Carbon democracy: political power in the age of oil. Verson: London, New York.

Jasanoff, Sheila. 2012. Science and public reason. Earthscan from Routledge. Chapter 8. Image and Imagination: the formation of global environmental consciousness.

Dubash, K. N. 2016. Climate Change through the Lens of Energy Transformation. In: Nicholson, S. and Jinnah, S. New Earth Politics: Essays from the Anthropocene. MIT: Cambridge Massachusetts, London, England. Pp. 315-342.

Strauss, S., Rupp, S. and Lous, T. 2013. Cultures of energy: power, practices, technologies. Routledge: London and New York.

Shove, E. and Spurling, N. 2013. Sustainable Practices: Social theory and climate change. Routledge: London and New York.

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  2. Coenen, P. Benneworth, B. Truffer, Toward a spatial perspective on sustainability transitions, Res. Policy 41 (6) (2012) 968–979,

F.W. Geels, J. Schot, Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways, Res. Policy 36 (3) (2007) 399–417,

  1. Roberts, F.W. Geels, Conditions for politically accelerated transitions: historical institutionalism, the multi-level perspective, and two historical case studies in transport and agriculture, Technol. Forecast. Soc. Chang. 140 (2019) 221–240,

B.K. Sovacool, J. Axsen, S. Sorrell, Promoting novelty, rigor, and style in energy social science: towards codes of practice for appropriate methods and research design, Energy Res. Social Sci. 45 (2018) 12–42,

  1. E. Sandy Thomas, ‘“How green are electric vehicles?”’, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 37(7), pp. 6053–6062, Apr. 2012, doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2011.12.118.
  2. Lis. Climate and Energy Politics in Poland Debating Carbon Dioxide and Shale Gas, Routledge, 2020.

G.H. Broadbent, D. Drozdzewski, G. Metternicht, Electric vehicle adoption: An analysis of best practice and pitfalls for policy making from experiences of Europe and the US, Geography Compass 12 (2) (2018), e12358,

  1. Rezvani, J. Jansson, J. Bodin, Advances in consumer electric vehicle adoption research: a review and research agenda, Transp. Res. Part D: Transport Environ. 34 (2015) 122–136,
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J.H. Lee, S.J. Hardman, G. Tal, Who is buying electric vehicles in California? Characterising early adopter heterogeneity and forecasting market diffusion, Energy Res. Social Sci. 55 (2019) 218–226,

  1. Lopez-Arboleda, A.T. Sarmiento, L.M. Cardenas, Systematic review of integrated sustainable transportation models for electric passenger vehicle diffusion, Sustainability 11 (9) (2019) 2513,

M.J. van der Kam, A.A.H. Meelen, W.G.J.H.M. van Sark, F. Alkemade, Diffusion of solar photovoltaic systems and electric vehicles among Dutch consumers: implications for the energy transition, Energy Res. Social Sci. 46 (2018) 68–85,

  1. Anable, G. Schuitema, and J. Stannard, ‘Consumer responses to Electric Vehicles Literature Review. Published project report PPR728’, 2014. A.F. Jensen, E. Cherchi, S.L. Mabit, On the stability of preferences and attitudes before and after experiencing an electric vehicle, Transp. Res. Part D: Transport Environ. 25 (2013) 24–32,
  2. McCoy, S. Lyons, Consumer preferences and the influence of networks in electric vehicle diffusion: An agent-based microsimulation in Ireland, Energy Res. Social Sci. 3 (Sep. 2014) 89–101,
  3. Du, D. Liu, B.K. Sovacool, Y. Wang, S. Ma, R.Y.M. Li, Who buys New Energy Vehicles in China? Assessing social-psychological predictors of purchasing awareness, intention, and policy, Transp. Res. Part F: Traffic Psychol. Behav. 58 (2018) 56–69,
  4. Han, S. Wang, D. Zhao, J. Li, The intention to adopt electric vehicles: driven by functional and non-functional values, Transp. Res. Part A: Policy Practice 103 (2017) 185–197,

T.M. Skjølsvold, M. Ryghaug, Temporal echoes and cross-geography policy effects: multiple levels of transition governance and the electric vehicle breakthrough, Environ. Innov. Societal Trans. 35 (2020) 232–240,

B.K. Sovacool, J.-C. Rogge, C. Saleta, E. Masterson-Cox, Transformative versus conservative automotive innovation styles: contrasting the electric vehicle manufacturing strategies for the BMW i3 and Fiat 500e, Environ. Innov. Societal Transitions 33 (2019) 45–60,

  1. Anfinsen, ‘Between stability and change: Tensions in the Norwegian electric mobility transition’, Soc Stud Sci, p. 030631272110228, Jul. 2021, doi:10.1177/03063127211022842.
  2. Ryghaug, T.M. Skjølsvold, Nurturing a Regime Shift Toward Electro-mobility in Norway, in: M. Finger, M. Audouin (Eds.), The Governance of Smart Transportation Systems, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2019, pp. 147–165,
  3. Azadfar, V. Sreeram, D. Harries, The investigation of the major factors influencing plug-in electric vehicle driving patterns and charging behaviour, Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 42 (2015) 1065–1076,
  4. Tietge, P. Mock, N. Lutsey, and A. Campestrini, ‘Comparison of Leading Electric Vehicle Policy and Deployment in Europe’, The International Council On Clean Transportation, May 2016.
  5. Kanger, Rethinking the Multi-level Perspective for energy transitions: from regime life-cycle to explanatory typology of transition pathways, Energy Res. Social Sci. 71 (2021), 101829,
  6. Smith, A. Stirling, F. Berkhout, The governance of sustainable socio-technical transitions, Res. Policy 34 (10) (2005) 1491–1510,
  7. Shove, G. Walker, Governing transitions in the sustainability of everyday life, Res. Policy 39 (4) (2010) 471–476,
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  9. Ingeborgrud, S. Heidenreich, M. Ryghaug, T.M. Skjølsvold, C. Foulds, R. Robison, K. Buchmann, R. Mourik, Expanding the scope and implications of energy research: a guide to key themes and concepts from the Social Sciences and Humanities, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 63 (2020) 101398,

R.J. Heffron, D. McCauley, The concept of energy justice across the disciplines, Energy Policy 105 (2017) 658–667,

Ramazan, S., Voyvoda, E., Lacey-Barnacle, M., Karababa, E., Topal, C., Islambay, D., Energy justice - a social sciences and humanities cross-cutting theme report., Cambridge: Shape Energy (2017). (accessed January 29, 2020).

Galvin, R., Economic inequality, energy justice and the meaning of life, in: Inequal. Energy How Extrem. Wealth Poverty High Income Ctries. Affect CO2 Emiss. Access to Energy, Elsevier (2020) pp. 75–96.

B.K. Sovacool, M.H. Dworkin, Energy justice: conceptual insights and practical applications, Appl. Energy. 142 (2015) 435–444,

  1. Jenkins, Setting energy justice apart from the crowd: lessons from environmental and climate justice, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 39 (2018) 117–121,

D.A. McCauley, R.J. Heffron, H. Stephan, K. Jenkins, Advancing energy justice: the triumvirate of tenets, Int. Energy Law Rev. 32 (2013) 107–110.

McCauley, D., Jenkins, K., Forman, A., Exploring the Energy Justice Nexus, Energy Policy [Special Issue] (2018).

  1. Simcock, C. Mullen, Energy demand for mobility and domestic life: new insights from energy justice, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. [Special Issue] 18 (2016) 1–162,
  2. Jenkins, D. McCauley, R. Heffron, H. Stephan, R. Rehner, Energy justice: a conceptual review, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 11 (2016) 174–182,
  3. Jenkins, D. McCauley, C.R. Warren, Attributing responsibility for energy justice: a case study of the Hinkley Point Nuclear Complex, Energy Policy 108 (2017) 836–843,

B.K. Sovacool, M. Burke, L. Baker, C.K. Kotikalapudi, H. Wlokas, New frontiers and conceptual frameworks for energy justice, Energy Policy 105 (2017) 677–691,

  1. Williams, A. Doyon, Justice in energy transitions, Environ. Innov. Soc. Transit. 31 (2019) 144–153,

B.K. Sovacool, R.J. Heffron, D. McCauley, A. Goldthau, Energy decisions reframed as justice and ethical concerns, Nat. Energy 1 (5) (2016),

R.J. Heffron, K. Talus, The evolution of energy law and energy jurisprudence: insights for energy analysts and researchers, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 19 (2016) 1–10,

  1. del Guayo, L. Godden, D.D. Zillman, M.F. Montoya, J.J. Gonz´alez (Eds.), Energy Justice and Energy LawEnergy Justice and Energy Law, Oxford University Press, 2020.

R.D. Bullard, G.S. Johnson, Environmentalism and public policy: environmental justice: grassroots activism and its impact on public policy decision making, J. Soc. Issues 56 (3) (2000) 555–578,

Dobson, A., Justice and the Environment: Conceptions of Environmental Sustainability and Theories of Distributive Justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York (1999).

  1. Walker, Beyond distribution and proximity: exploring the multiple spatialities of environmental justice, Antipode 41 (2009) 614–636,

B.K. Sovacool, M.H. Dworkin, Global energy justice: problems, principles, and practices, Cambridge University Press (2014),

K.E.H. Jenkins, J.C. Stephens, T.G. Reames, D. Hern´andez, Towards impactful energy justice research: transforming the power of academic engagement, Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 67 (2020) 101510,


Plus resources from the Institute for Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley and UC Davis.