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Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme


  Rebecca Foster


  Geography (Science), Christ's College

  PhD thesis: Energy justice and the transition to low carbon energy in Malawi



Research interests:

  1. Renewable and smart energy systems
  2. 'Energy Justice' and equitable energy transitions
  3. Policy-making and infrastructure governance
  4. Community-based participatory research

My research aims to progress energy justice theory by examining how infrastructures interact with social dynamics in the settings of pre- and ongoing electrification. By employing an interdisciplinary methodology – rooted in energy justice theory – the research will contextualise the everyday experiences of individuals in Malawi who live with low access to energy. The research will take a particular focus on women, who are the most vulnerable and disproportionately burdened with the negative consequences of lack of access to energy. Based on these insights, key practical and policy recommendations will be formulated to cater to unique and dynamic needs of individuals which are currently overlooked.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your research interests?

My interest in the transition to renewable energy stems from my experiences gained while working with my family to develop, own and operate hydro and solar energy projects across Scotland. Gaining first hand experiences has played an important role in developing my understanding of the opportunities and challenges to growing and securing clean and affordable energy. While at University, I tailored my research focus to energy-related subjects which led me to working in a think tank and forum as a Energy Policy Researcher - where I became intrigued by the role of policy-makers in the transition to net-zero.