Associate Professor Jennifer Hadden has received a two-year, $163,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Decision, Risk and Management Sciences program to examine the social reception of proposed energy projects in developing countries.
Promoting access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy -- especially in critical regions of South Asia and Africa -- is an important foreign policy priority of the United States. Despite the scale of unmet demand, social protest and contestation have become a barrier to project realization in many communities. Yet the origins and impact of such contention are poorly understood. Having a better understanding of the factors that drive protest will enhance American economic competitiveness and inform foreign policy. As American public institutions and private firms commonly provide funding and technology for energy ventures abroad, the research is disseminated through targeted publications and a public conference with relevant governmental, industry, financial, and non-governmental stakeholders. In addition, this study contributes to education and research infrastructure. Specifically, it generates public data sets and documentation of the associated methodology that will be useful to other researchers. It also trains underrepresented undergraduate and graduate researchers.
This project advances scholarly knowledge by contributing to the comparative politics of infrastructure siting and social protest. It offers three main advances. First, it pioneers a method for the global comparative study of protest events, demonstrating how traditional and social media records can be leveraged to gather reliable data about social contestation. Second, it combines original data on protest with existing data on proposed coal projects all over the world, developing insight into how the politics of project siting may differ in the developed and developing world. Third, it offers a multi-faceted treatment of how protest affects outcomes, including consideration of the potential for protest to impact both project and community-level outcomes. The project employs a multi-method approach to data collection and analysis that includes statistical methods, focus group discussions, and qualitative case studies.