New ASU lab will address the social challenges of climate change

Power plant on the Navajo Nation

As more locations across the country begin to transition to utilizing renewable energy sources, officials in such locations face a daunting task: How do they compensate the workers and communities that financially relied on those nonrenewable sources of energy?

While the question may be hypothetical, scenarios like that are not. One recently played out in Page, Arizona when the Navajo Generating Station closed down. The coal-fired power plant had operated for 40 years, serving as a financial support for the community of Hopi and Navajo tribes. Now that it’s closed, workers are at a loss as to how to meet their needs.

Discussions about such situations will be addressed in a new course titled "Energy and Social Justice” that will debut in the Spring 2020 semester. It will be taught by Christopher Jones and Gary Dirks. Jones is a senior sustainability scholar in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and an assistant professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. Dirks is the senior director of the Global Futures Laboratory and director of LightWorks.