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Energy Institute Lecture Series: Dr. Michael Shank

Building the Political and Public Will for the Energy Transition

The next presentation in the Texas A&M Energy Institute Lecture Series, featuring Dr. Michael Shank, the Director of Engagement at the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, will be held on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CST (UTC -6:00) in the Frederick E. Giesecke Engineering Research Building (GERB) Third Floor Conference Room and through a Zoom Meeting. The topic will be “Building the Political and Public Will for the Energy Transition.”


The energy transition has an accessibility problem. Not everyone is buying into the transition. Not everyone understands the opportunity, knows how to do it, or is able to afford it. In many ways, the energy transition has paid more attention to the development of products needed for the transition – electric vehicles, battery storage, renewable energy, and heat pumps, for example – than the process needed to inclusively engage the public and policymakers in the design, adoption, and scaling of those products. Without the requisite public and political will, the transition sputters exactly when urgent action is needed. 

This conversation explores this essential area of work and suggests new and inclusive ways to engage stakeholders more compellingly, creatively, and collaboratively. In this presentation, we’ll look to behavioral science for answers to the challenges identified above as well as innovations in the urban environment to engage and shift power to communities, using examples from leading cities in the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. 


Dr. Michael Shank is the Director of Engagement at the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, a group of international cities committed to achieving aggressive long-term carbon reduction goals. Michael’s professional career includes leading press and/or policy shops at the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Climate Nexus (clients included the United Nations, Vatican City, The White House, and Fortune 500 Companies), U.S. Congress, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Institute for Economics and Peace, Biodiversity Northwest, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and more.

Michael’s academic career includes a Ph.D. from George Mason University’s Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution and is focused on climate conflict. Michael is adjunct faculty at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, where he teaches graduate courses on Sustainable Development, Power and Politics and Climate and Security. Michael also serves as adjunct faculty and advisory board member at George Mason University’s Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, where he teaches graduate courses on Writing for Policy and Practice and Communicating Conflict.

Michael is a former opinion columnist for the Washington Post and US News & World Report and a contributor to USA Today, CNN, FOX News, The Guardian, TIME, Fast Company, Newsweek and more.  Michael lives in Vermont, where he serves on the boards of the Safer Society Foundation, Compass Music and Arts Foundation, and Barn Opera. Michael also serves on the advisory councils of the Faith For Our Planet, New Standard Institute and Global Environment Media.