Climate and Energy Policy Research Lab (CEPRL)

Overview

Incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, the Climate and Energy Policy Research (CEPRL) Lab is an interdisciplinary research-based initiative to address the global climate crisis. It aims to bring together international research collaborators from diverse fields- academia, policy-making, research organizations, think-tanks, NGOs, and civil societies- to engage in fruitful network-building and knowledge exchange processes. The lab's ongoing projects involve air pollution, climate change policy networks, just energy transitions, and grassroots innovations. Our research uses data collected through surveys, ethnographic research, policy reports, and online media repositories and combines classical and computational sociological methods for data refinement and analysis.

CEPRL is currently working with the research teams from Australia, Brazil, Japan, and the United States. CEPRL's team has published in peer-reviewed journals, including the British Journal of Sociology and Current Sociology.
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Members

LAB HEAD

Pradip Swarnakar

Pradip Swarnakar is trained as a sociologist and specializes in conducting quantitative and qualitative research on various social and environmental issues. During his doctoral research at IIT Kanpur, he had conducted extensive fieldwork in rural West Bengal to investigate people’s beliefs and practices concerning water scarcity and contamination. After completing his PhD, he joined the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development at Bangalore to examine the socio-psychological impact of groundwater arsenic contamination. One year later, he moved to IIT Delhi to explore why and how information and communication technologies facilitate small and medium enterprises’ economic activities in Dharavi- Asia’s largest slum at Mumbai. In 2009, he joined the ABV-Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Gwalior and taught undergraduate and postgraduate students in technical and management streams. During his tenure at IITM Gwalior, he observed that the Indian students spend considerable time on social media sites like Facebook to connect with their friends and family. This led him to explore how Indian students create and maintain social capital by using Facebook and other social media applications between 2010-2013. He conducted semi-structured interviews with nine hundred students from three centrally funded technical institutes in India to investigate it further. In 2012, he got involved with the climate policy network research group known as COMPON, conceived and led by Prof Jeffrey Broadbent of the University of Minnesota and spans across several countries. As a lead researcher of the project’s Indian team, Dr. Swarnakar interviewed around eighty climate policy actors in India to identify their collaboration network in the various policy processes. In 2017, he was awarded the Fulbright fellowship to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in San Joaquin Valley to investigate socio-cultural dimensions of drought management in California, which saw one of the worst draughts between 2011-2016. Employing the theoretical perspective of transition management and practice theory, his research highlighted the role of culture in transitioning to the new normal of water scarcity and unpredictability. In 2019, he collaborated with a team of researchers from the University of Technology, Sydney, to interview the residents of a small town of Bulga in New South Wales, Australia, intending to examine and foreground the plight and vulnerability of the indigenous communities of Australia imperilled by mining operations. At CEPRL, he is engaged in research on environmental justice issues like air pollution, forest rights, and just energy transitions, focusing on developing novel methodological and theoretical tools and delivering policy-relevant results.

POST-DOCTORAL STUDENT

Avinash Kumar

Avinash Kumar is Princeton-IITK Post-Doctoral Fellow funded by Princeton University. His work focuses on comparative climate policy networks involving Australia, Brazil, India, and Japan as part of the transnational project COMPON. He obtained MA in Development Studies and PhD in Sociology of Science and Technology from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. He was awarded ICSSR Post-Doctoral fellowship and Austrian research fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society (IAS-STS), Graz. His areas of interest include Science, Technology and Society (STS), Climate Change Policy, and Network Science. Dr. Kumar has been engaged in exploring the structure, pattern, and function of networks, particularly scientific, social, and policy networks using a combination of theoretical and empirical methods situated within science and technology sociology. His works have been published in Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, Asian Journal of Social Science, and Journal of Scientometrics Research.

PhD STUDENTS

Bhavna Joshi

Tracing her academic journey through multiple fields, including life sciences, biotechnology, forensic science, and anthropology, Bhavna Joshi is currently working on air pollution in Delhi using a sociological perspective. Her work engages with three broad themes- knowledge production, risk perception, and energy justice. It delves to decipher the instruments of construction and assertion of knowledge through discourses and myriad risk perceiving positions of various actors within the problem’s justice framework. Bhavna qualified for the National Eligibility Test for Junior Research Fellowship offered by the University Grants Commission of India in 2015. She completed her MSc. and M.Phil. degree in Anthropology from the University of Delhi, where she explored the socio-cultural connotations of ‘home’ and ‘homelessness’ through her ethnographic work in urban and rural India. Her paper, co-authored with Prof. Swarnakar, titled, ‘Staying away, staying alive: Exploring risk and stigma of COVID-19 in the context of beliefs, actors and hierarchies in India’ has been published in Current Sociology.

Rajshri Shukla

Rajshri Shukla is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Kanpur. Her broad research interests revolve around Environmental Sociology, Climate Change, Energy Transition, Energy Justice, and Social Stratification. In her thesis, she aims to explore the treatment of the structural inequalities and injustices in the process of energy transition towards renewable energy by conducting a comparative study between India and Australia. She holds a national-level Junior Research Fellowship funded by the University Grants Commission. She obtained her B.A. (Hons.) in Sociology from Hindu College, Delhi University, and M.A. in Sociology from CSJM University. In 2018, she worked as a lecturer at the College of Law, Pranveer Singh Institute of Technology. She presented her work at the 'International Workshop on Socio-ecological relations of the energy transition in Australia, Germany, and India in 2019' and 'European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference 2020'.

Peter Dichun Rwangmei

Peter’s doctoral work explores environmental sociology and indigenous religion’s intersection to combat the ecological crisis in a sustainable way. He has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Rongmei indigenous community of Manipur, covering both the valley and hill regions. Peter completed his Masters in Sociology from Panjab University in 2013.

Pritha Sarkar

Pritha’s doctoral work focuses on the role of science and the scientific community in India’s energy transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. She obtained M.A in Sociology from the University of Kalyani, where she conducted a sociological study on the level of awareness about gender role stereotype among married women. Before joining IIT Kanpur, Pritha’s work experience spanned diverse areas, including the banking sector, welfare organisations, and teaching positions in schools and colleges.

Swagata Das

Swagata’s interest in environmental sociology drove her to explore the Forest Policy Network in India in her doctoral work. Her doctoral work aims to interrogate the actor negotiation and power governance within the broad contour of the Forest Policy Act 2006 at the domestic level. She holds a MA in Sociology from West Bengal State University and BA in Sociology from Kalyani University. In her MA dissertation, she examined the notion of the "social construction of Queers" in India by employing the theoretical lens of gender.

Naorem Nishikanta Mangang

The growing concerns of climate change in the world motivated Nishi to work on the policy framework of energy transition in India. He is interested in investigating the role of trade unions in coal-based power plants in India. Before joining IIT Kanpur, he completed M.Phil. in Sociology from Jadavpur University and obtained an M.A. in Sociology from Pondicherry University. In 2019, he presented a paper titled “Market-a space for social mobility and identity assertion for the women in Manipur” at the National Seminar on “Regimes of Gender in Contemporary Globalization” organised by the Department of Political science, Presidency University Kolkata. He is currently receiving a Junior Research Fellowship from the University Grants Commission for his doctoral research.

INTERNS

Saikat Howladar

Saikat is a 3rd-year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor in Technology in Material Science & Engineering at IIT Kanpur. He is interested in exploring contemporary research and developments in the field of sociology with collaborative computational techniques of text mining and Natural Language Processing. His other hobbies include photography, scriptwriting and filmmaking.

Haritha S Narayanan

Haritha is a post-graduate in Politics and International Relations from Pondicherry University. She was an intern at CEPR lab in fall 2020, exploring NGOs’ role in the international and national climate movement and advocacy. In her master’s thesis, she worked on the role of international non-governmental organisations and youth movements in standardising climate change norms. As an aspiring student of politics and international relations, her research interest further includes understanding the fields of human development with a focus on social policy and planning, South Asia, Maritime Studies, and Human rights. She holds a B.A (Honours) degree in Political Science from Gargi College, University of Delhi. She was also associated with the Council for Social Development (CSD), New Delhi and Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP- IDSA), New Delhi as a research intern.

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