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Manchester Urban Institute

Staff Spotlight: Stefan Bouzarovski

24 April 2018

In our latest Staff Spotlight for the April-May newsletter, we ask Stefan Bouzarovski about his research, career highlights and more.

What is your career highlight so far?

Most of my work has been aimed at using thinking from human geography to uncover the social injustices created by the consumption and circulation of energy.

Some of that has taken me back towards reconceptualizing human geography itself (eg in the Research Companion to Energy Geographies), while other strands have been developing more explicitly geographic understandings of energy inequity (hence our recent effort to 'spatialize' energy justice in the journal Energy Policy).

A third path, which I hope to grow further – it certainly seems to be attracting interest from a wider range of disciplines – is to decolonise research and policy on energy poverty beyond fixed categories such as the 'Global North' and 'Global South' (eg my paper with Saska Petrova in Energy Research and Social Science).

Tell us about your current research and what you see as your key academic challenges over the next five years.

Other than my energy poverty work I am increasingly becoming interested in low-carbon and urban sustainability transformations more broadly. So this is, in part, taking me in the direction of how gentrification and urban regeneration may be linked to energy interventions in the built fabric of cities.

I am also increasingly becoming interested in how we can effect systemic change at the global level, through social innovation in energy production and demand. From where I am standing, a key challenge in the period to come will be to bring justice and equality concerns to the table when discussing energy transformations, and understanding climate change mitigation policy as an undertaking that is both politically disruptive and technologically hybrid.

What is the dream scenario for you in terms of the impact of your work?

Here I'd highlight the work of the EU Energy Poverty Observatory and our new COST ENGAGER network - initiatives aimed at, respectively, providing decision-support to European Union institutions, and creating a bottom-up knowledge exchange network to promote and disseminate scientific research.

The EU Observatory is proving very influential in terms of making energy poverty visible across the EU, and making a real difference in shaping a set of new directives in the energy sector. The more we can integrate the activities of the Observatory and ENGAGER to effect new policy that is rooted in robust academic research, the more transformational our impact work will be.

What do you see as the benefits to working in a broad research institute like MUI?

The MUI is a rare breed – it is decentralized and broad while bustling with activity and intellectual debate at the same time. This a tremendous advantage as it allows researchers to develop distinct agendas while generating collaborations that can develop in unpredictable and novel ways. I very much hope we can retain and build on such key strengths.

If you could take one book to a desert island what would it be? 

Any well-written, radical sci-fi that reimagines future/present worlds on a profoundly different basis – Ursula K LeGuin, China Miéville, Vernor Vinge… you name it!

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