By Mary Giles

Lauren Johnson

Lauren Johnson

Lauren Johnson was looking for a program that would give her an intermediate technical knowledge of sustainable energy, but that largely focused on policy.

“The Master of Arts in Sustainable Energy (SE) at Carleton is exactly that,” says the new graduate.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the program means I now have a solid understanding of economics, engineering and policy analysis. My numeracy is much improved, so I feel much more confident working in Excel and running quantitative analysis. Sustainable energy is such a multi-faceted field and the program built my confidence in many of those facets.”

Johnson says one of the key highlights of the program was the Sustainable Energy Lecture Series, organized by the Carleton Sustainable Energy Research Centre (CSERC). The series covers diverse topics including Indigenous energy projects and action on climate change.

“Every single speaker is just fascinating,” says Johnson. “We learned about cutting-edge technologies and heard many different perspectives on the sustainable energy transition. Now as an alumna, the events will continue to broaden my horizons and keep me up-to-date on the newest technologies.”

In Fall 2020, Johnson also had the opportunity to speak to the next cohort of SE students in the first-term core course Sustainable Energy Policy (PADM 5515). The course explores the institutions and processes that drive and regulate investments in energy technologies and systems. She returned to the course as a second year student with classmate Silke Popescu (both 2021 recipients of the Borealis Foundation Graduate Scholarship) to discuss the impact of justice movements and climate change action on the clean energy transition.

A research paper Johnson wrote for this course in 2019, Stealing the Genie from the Lamp: The Politics of Energy and Justice, was expanded on and published in May 2021 in Princeton University’s Journal of Public & International Affairs. The paper explores the politics of equity and justice in Canada’s sustainable energy transition and argues that the transition should directly benefit marginalized Canadians by endowing them with ownership of energy infrastructure.

In April, Johnson presented her capstone project.

“I was able to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve learned throughout the program to a real-world topic,” says Johnson. “Energy is fundamentally interdisciplinary. The capstone gives students the chance to bring all of those perspectives together and examine a single topic through many lenses.”

While Johnson has gained knowledge and experience over the two-year degree that will help her in her career, she has also expanded her personal contacts. She says one of her favourite experiences at Carleton was working with her classmates and becoming friends with them outside of class, despite the program moving to an online format due to the pandemic.

“Our cohort will have spent the longest time online — nearly 3 semesters,” she says. “We still managed to become very close and support each other academically and emotionally through these really trying times. I learned so much from them and I feel so lucky to have met such a great group of friends who have a common interest in fighting climate change.”

Friday, June 18, 2021 in , , , , ,
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