Publications

Universities in contentious energy debates—Science, democracy and coal seam gas in Australia

Published by: Energy Research and Social Science

Engaging with Australia’s nascent coal seam gas (CSG) industry reveals complex responsibilities and risks faced by contemporary universities. The relationship between science and society is shifting including universities’ relationships to private interests, technology and conceptualisations of knowledge as a ‘public good’ [28]. Understanding the material, political and economic forces that enable, shape or constrain knowledge is central to understanding contentious policy disputes. A more nuanced understanding of the economic and social conditions in which scientific knowledge is produced and absorbed, and a more careful examination of the institutional actors involved is sought [41], [43], [76] and [77]. Toward that end, this article explores the dynamics of a university-industry partnership established in the contentious research and policy arena of CSG. It draws upon the authors’ experiences as participant-observers in an industry-funded research centre. These experiences have helped to characterise contradictions inherent in the demands on modern universities—private funding of research within public institutions, industry-driven research agendas, problem-solving with competing disciplinary epistemologies, and safeguarding the public interest as it relates to creation of knowledge to inform public policy decision-making. Such debates are of increasing importance as research can stimulate, or inhibit, major technological transitions in the energy arena.

DOI Link

doi:10.1016/j.erss.2016.06.008

CITATION

Hardie, E., Smith Devetak, N. "Universities in contentious energy debates —Science, democracy and coal seam gas in Australia", Energy Research and Social Science journal,