Inequality Discussion Group - Richard Stedman & Robi Nilson

Event Date

10/18/2021 - 11:45

Richard Stedman (Professor, Natural Resources & the Environment) and

Robi Nilson (Ph.D. Student, Natural Resources & the Environment)

Taking off the Rose-Colored Glasses: Emerging inequality in New York State Solar Energy Development

Location: In person 423 CC - ILR Conference Center ~ Also available via Zoom - Please email for Zoom access information

Abstract: New York State has adopted one of the most aggressive clean energy agendas in the nation with an ambitious goal of an entirely renewable electric grid by the year 2040. Achieving these goals will require development of substantial, spatially expansive solar energy projects across rural, upstate communities. While this transition to renewable energy is undoubtedly a positive step in addressing climate change, the implications for socio-economic inequality are less understood. Drawing on our work exploring state siting policies and community responses to proposed solar projects, this talk will highlight the potential distributive and procedural justice concerns associated with this development and discuss connections to rural politics.

Roberta Nilson is a PhD Candidate with the Center for Conservation Social Sciences in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University advised by Dr. Stedman. She has an interdisciplinary environmental background with a B.S. in Environmental Science, a Master of Public Policy completed at Oregon State University, experience as a National Park ranger, and service in the Peace Corps as an environment education volunteer in rural Nicaragua. Her core research interests are in environmental justice, rural sociology, energy transitions, and social class dynamics.

Richard Stedman is a Professor and Department Chair in Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University. As a faculty member in resource policy and management, Richard Stedman’s teaching, outreach, and research focus on the interaction between social and ecological systems. His training is in sociology, and he uses the theories and methodologies of this discipline as a lens for examining a broad array of human/environment conflicts. He is particularly interested in the challenges that rapid social and ecological changes pose for the sustainability of forested ecosystems, watersheds, and human communities.