Karen Henwood has long term interests in investigating the challenges posed to society by environmental and socio-cultural risks and uncertainties in changing times, with a specific focus on energy transitions in everyday life and at systems level. A social psychologist by training, her empirical work spans in-depth longitudinal and community case studies, interpretive, qualitative research methods, and use of methodological innovation and development to engage local communities with issues of risk, environmental protection and controversy, and to understand the implications of identity dynamics. Key issues include ways of understanding risk relationally, how risk perceptions and subjectivities are situated in time and place, and developments in studies of science, technology and society that aim to make its perspectives on human values, justice and care ethics, time, continuity and change more inclusive of psycho-social dynamics. She led the qualitative, in depth investigation into lived experiences of energy vulnerability, with support and funding from the Welsh Government’s Resource Efficient Wales, Fair Futures, and Smart Living Demonstrator Programmes (2017-18). Currently, she is co-PI on three major EU/UK energy/infrastructure investments. Flexis (Flexible Integrated Energy Systems) is an engineering social sciences consortium investigating the future of the UK energy system. It is developing a regional demonstrator capable of responding to the needs of local citizens in South Wales (WEFO funded 2016-21). ii) ABC (Active Building Centre) is a major UK government investment (2020-23) set up to engage in a transformative way with the low carbon energy transition in the construction industry and built environment. It has a central focus on smart energy infrastructure, service provision and consumer experience. iii) NEUPA (Network Headroom, Engineering Upgrades and Public Acceptance, 2021-24) is a UK Research Council funded project connecting engineering for heat system change to consumers and citizens. NEUPA is part of a wider decarbonisation of heating and cooling research and innovation programme that is relevant to two UK policy/grand societal challenge initiatives (industrial decarbonisation and net zero).
School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University (United Kingdom)