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Collective Action for Renewable Energy Initiatives

August 19, 2021
Kenny Hua
Class of 2024
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As I began working in Dr. Nicole Ardoin’s Social Ecology Lab, I was most excited to interview community members and learn how to work with qualitative data for the first time. Although I was expecting to encounter many new methods and ways of thinking, I was exposed to a completely different way of conducting research than I was used to.

Our lab’s environment is one of the most collaborative settings I have ever worked in. From crafting the interview protocols to collecting and analyzing data, all members of our group have contributed significantly. With this type of work, we are interested in how communities are addressing the relevant environmental challenges. Inherently, this is community-based research. What was most inspiring to me is that the community members we work with also had a say in the protocol making process. Since we are interested in people and communities, we also are faced with ethical challenges. This summer, I was confronted with the ethics of research and forced to think critically about the ways a researcher-participant relationship can easily manifest into a manipulative one. Together with my lab members, we discussed how we can fairly treat our research participants during and after the research process. I come out of this with a better understanding of community-based research and research ethics when it comes to people.

The focus of my project is to understand how communities are addressing energy concerns as a collective. I spent my time interviewing community members, writing transcripts, and analyzing those interview transcripts. Throughout the process, I’ve had the privileged opportunity of listening to inspiring stories about community mobilization, individual lives, and heroic battles. With each interview, I hear a different aspect of a large picture of individuals banding together to win a challenging duel against big corporations or government bodies. This experience affirmed my future plans to work with communities in addressing environmental challenges.

Through my experiences working in the Social Ecology Lab, I’ve gained improved skills in collaboration, gathering and analyzing qualitative data, and a clearer understanding of my future plans.