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Department ofSociology


Professor David McDermott Hughes gives invited talk

Clean energy, deep inequality: new political traditions of wind and sunlight

On May 20th, 2022, Professor David McDermott Hughes gave a campus talk  “Clean energy, deep inequality: political dilemmas of wind and sunlight” sponsored by the Sociology Department, Anthropology Department, and Environmental Studies and Sciences Department. The event was organized by Molly King and Leslie Gray with Laura Robinson, Cara Chiaraluce, and Lee Panich, as well as an invited student panel.

Molly King moderated the event and led the day, acting as SCU’s ambassador to our guest. Leading the talk, King gave a welcome before Hughes’ presentation that was introduced by Professor Leslie Gray. Hughes’ talk was warmly received by both the audience and the student author-meets-critics panel that followed that was also organized and moderated by Molly King. King thoughtfully prepared the student panel comprised of Judith Li, Brooke Rose, and Joseph Hart to read Hughes’ book in advance, prepare commentary, and ask the author questions. Hart, Rose, and Li gave thoughtful responses to Hughes’ work and engaged in lively Q&A that showcased their engagement with issues of green tech and sustainable technologies. In addition to the campus talk, Hughes was welcomed at a reception and introduced to SCU’s Garden Workday Harvest and Farm Stand Student Hour thanks to King’s careful orchestration of the day’s events. 

Based on his recent book on renewables, Who Owns the Wind: Climate Crisis and the Hope of Renewable Energy Hughes’ talk engaged topics of interdisciplinary interest drawing together a broad constituency. Hughes has worked at Rutgers University since 2000. As an environmental anthropologist, he writes about the ways in which people exploit ecosystems by exploiting each other and vice-versa. His early work – resulting in two books – concerned race, colonialism, and land reform in Zimbabwe andMozambique. More recently, he has addressed the climate emergency with a book on fossil fuels (Energy without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity, 2017). As an activist, Hughes has served as president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union. He now chairs the union’s Climate Justice Committee and serves on the same body for the American Federation of Teachers.