Current Vacancies

Location: University of Sussex

Duration: 3.5 years


One 3.5-year PhD Studentship on “Governing Deep Energy Demand Reduction” will explore questions of how individual and social organisation affect the potential to realise deep energy demand reduction solutions.

PhD project:

Energy demand, or the way people consume energy in homes, buildings, transport and industrial processes, has a key part to play as we address climate change and move towards net zero societies (Barrett et al, 2022). This PhD position engages with questions of individual and social organisation, and how these affect the potential to realise energy demand solutions. The focus is on the governance of energy demand reduction, here conceptualised as the ways we make decisions and take actions on issues of energy demand reduction. Some energy demand reduction solutions can be achieved without significant disruption to our current lifestyles, culture, habits, and means of organising social life. For example, the switch from gas boilers to heat pumps has significant implications for electricity systems, but requires only modest behavioural change from energy users. However, deeper shifts in, for example, food, mobility, work, and consumer goods systems will require different ways of organising our time and activities, and individual and collective ways of working together.

This PhD position will examine the governance implications of these necessary but more disruptive shifts in lives and livelihoods. Possible research areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Reductions in working time and 4-day work weeks
  • Spaces for conviviality (repair cafes, autonomous spaces, etc)
  • Shifts in diet, food production, or other goods
  • Reciprocity
  • Transaction costs
  • Behaviour change
  • Social experiments and times of the city
  • Universal Basic Income
  • Equity implications of demand reduction

The chosen candidate will have freedom to define their own theoretical and conceptual frame to suit their area of interest, but will work on developing conceptual and empirical work that contributes to better understanding the governance implications of deep energy demand reduction. Methodology is likewise to be defined by the student but must allow findings to be applicable to understanding of energy demand in the UK. The incorporation of research in other parts of the world is, however, also welcome.