International Development and Social Change

Jennie C. Stephens

Jennie C. Stephens, Ph.D.

Coordinator, Undergraduate Program in Environmental Science & Policy
Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy
Department of International Development, Environment and Community
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Phone: (508) 793-8846

Professional Website


Ph.D. in Environmental Science & Engineering, Caltech, 2002
M.S. in Environmental Science & Engineering, Caltech, 1998
B.A. in Environmental Science & Public Policy, Harvard, 1997

Research Interests

Climate change mitigation, energy technology innovation, socio-technical system transitions, renewable energy, wind power, "smart grid", CO2 capture and storage (CCS), stakeholder engagement in climate modeling, universities as change agents for sustainability


Jennie C. Stephens’ research, teaching, and community engagement focuses on social and technical change toward sustainability, with a particular focus on how society responds to climate change and energy system innovation. Stephens research on social dynamics of energy technology development has focused on renewable energy, wind power, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and “Smart Grid”. Her research also explores stakeholder engagement in climate modeling, communication among different actors including “experts” and the public, the potential of universities as “change agents”, and sustainable energy “clusters”. In support of her research, Stephens has been awarded over $450,000 in external funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Agriculture.

Jennie Stephens has been on the faculty at Clark since 2005. She came to Clark from a post-doctoral research position at Harvard’s Kennedy School (2002-2005), during which she also taught courses at Tufts, Boston University, and MIT. Stephens received her Ph.D. (2002) and M.S. (1998) at the California Institute of Technology in Environmental Science and Engineering and her B.A. (1997) from Harvard in Environmental Science and Public Policy.

Currently Funded Research Projects

Smart Grid: An Analysis of How Socio-Political Contexts Shape Energy Technology Development and Policy

The term Smart Grid represents a complex set of technologies with potential to enhance the efficiency and reduce costs of electricity production, storage, transmission, distribution and use.; Smart Grid systems are also critical to scaling up renewable energy in the U.S. energy system, yet significant variation is apparent in visions of what these systems are and how they are developing. Professor Stephens’ NSF-funded research involves a comparative analysis of Smart Grid development and engagement in three electricity transmission regions of North America: the Midwest, New England, and Texas (both the Midwest and New England include Canadian interconnections) using policy review and analysis, focus groups, interviews, and media analysis in each of these three regions. This project is enhancing knowledge of the socio-political dynamics of sustainable energy technologies and identifying potential challenges and conflicts. In addition to increasing understanding of national, regional and state-level influences on Smart Grid technology deployment, results of this research will inform energy professionals, state and regional planners, policy analysts, non-profits, and businesses in developing more effective strategies for involving the public in Smart Grid technology design, technology implementation and policy formation.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, Science, Technology and Society Program. (NSF-SES 1127697).

This award is part of a collaboration with colleagues at the University of Minnesota and Texas A&M.

Science Communication Research: Bio-Earth

Professor Stephens is a Co-PI heading up the communication research on a large, collaborative project focusing on the development of a regional-scale Earth Systems Model (EaSM) that will integrate potential user feedback in the model development process. This project is a collaboration with Washington State University and several other institutions. The model involves integrating existing process-based models for the atmospheric, terrestrial, aquatic, and human systems in order to understand the interactions between inter-annual to decadal-scale climate variability and carbon-nitrogen-water dynamics over the Pacific Northwest. The communication and outreach team is simultaneously designing and implementing stakeholder engagement throughout the model development process and researching communication among and between the scientists and the stakeholders. This project is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture 2011-67003-30346.

Additional information about the Bio-Earth project:

Green Energy Cluster Research

With collaborators from Clark's Graduate School of Management and the Marsh Institute, this research explores engagement of universities and other organizations in regional economic development cluster initiatives focused on sustainable energy. Using Worcester's green energy cluster initiative as a case study, we are learning about the engagement of a broad array of stakeholders and varying expectations for change, and how green energy clusters expand conventional notions of “clusters”. We have been conducting participant-observation research simultaneously assessing and comparing the evolution of this initiative with that of the previous Central Massachusetts Biotech Cluster initiative. Funded by Clark University’s Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, this scholarship contributes both theoretical and practical insights on the potential of an economic development cluster strategy in facilitating socio-technical transitions toward sustainability.

Selected Publications

Feldpausch-Parker, AM, R Chaudhry, JC Stephens, M Fischlein, DM Hall, LL Melnick, TR Peterson, CJ Ragland, EJ Wilson. 2012. Spreading the News on Carbon Capture and Storage: A State-Level Comparison of US Media. Accepted May 2012 in Environmental Communication.

McCauley, SM and Stephens, JC 2012. Green Energy Clusters and Socio-Technical Transitions: Analysis of a Sustainable Energy Cluster for Regional Economic Development in Central Massachusetts, USA. Sustainability Science. Available online May 2012.

Stephens, J. C., A. Hansson, Y. Liu, H. de Coninck, S. Vajjhala. 2011. Characterizing the International Carbon Capture and Storage Community. Global Environmental Change. 21: 379-390

Boyle, M., Ross, L. J.C. Stephens. 2011. Who has a Stake? Stakeholder Salience and the Sustainability of Community-University Partnerships. Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement. Vol. 4 p. 100-118

Markusson, N., Ishii, A. J.C. Stephens. 2011. The Social and Political Complexities of Learning in CCS Demonstration Projects. Global Environmental Change. 21: 293-302.

Stephens, J.C. & A.C. Graham. 2010. Toward an empirical research agenda for sustainability in higher education: exploring the transition management framework. Journal of Cleaner Production. Vol. 18. 611-618.

Stephens, J.C. & S. Jiusto. 2010. Assessing Innovation in Emerging Energy Technologies: Socio-Technical Dynamics of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) in the USA. Energy Policy. 38. 2020-2031.

Wilson, E. J. & J.C. Stephens. 2009. Wind deployment in the U.S.: States, Resources, Policy and Discourse. Environmental Science & Technology. 43(24): 9063-9070.

Stephens, J. C. 2009. Technology Leader, Policy Laggard: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Development for Climate Mitigation in the U.S. Political Context. Chapter 2 in Caching the Carbon: The Politics and Policy of Carbon Capture and Storage. (eds) J. Meadowcroft and O. Langhelle. Edward Elgar Publishing. Cheltenham, UK. 320p.

Stephens, J. C., G. M. Rand, and L.L. Melnick. 2009. Wind Energy in the U.S. Media: A Comparative State-Level Analysis of a Critical Climate Change Mitigation Technology. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture 3(2): 168-190.

de Coninck, H., J. C. Stephens, and B. Metz. (2009). Global learning on carbon capture and storage: A call for strong international cooperation on CCS demonstration. Energy Policy 37(6): 2161-2165.

Stephens, J.C. & A.C. Graham. 2008. Climate Science to Citizen Action: Urgent Need to Energize Non-Formal Climate Science Education. EOS. American Geophysical Union’s Publication. Vol. 89. No. 22. p. 204-205.

Stephens, J.C., E.J. Wilson, & T.R. Peterson. 2008. Socio-Political Evaluation of Energy Deployment (SPEED): An Integrated Research Framework for Analysis of Energy Technology Deployment. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Vol. 75, p. 1224-1246.

Stephens, J.C.; M.E. Hernandez, M. Román, A.C. Graham, & R.W. Scholz. 2008. Education as a Change Agent for Sustainability in Different Cultures and Contexts. International Journal for Sustainability in Higher Education. Volume 9, Issue 3. p. 317-338.

Stephens, J.C. & D.W. Keith, 2008. Assessing Geochemical Carbon Management. Climatic Change. Vol. 90, No. 3. p. 217-242.

Stephens, J.C. 2006. Growing Interest in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) for Climate Change Mitigation. Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy. Fall 2006. Vol. 2, Issue 2.

Stephens, J.C. & B. van der Zwaan. 2005. The Case for Carbon Capture and Storage. In Issues in Science and Technology. Fall, 2005. p. 69-76.

Stephens, J.C. and J.G. Hering. 2004. Factors Affecting the Dissolution Kinetics of Volcanic Ash Soils: Dependencies on CO2, pH and organic acids. Applied Geochemistry. Vol. 19, No. 8, p. 1217-1232.

Stephens, J.C. and J.G. Hering. 2002. Comparative Characterization of Volcanic Ash Soils Exposed to Decade-Long Elevated Carbon Dioxide Concentrations at Mammoth Mountain, California. Chemical Geology. Vol. 186 No. 3-4, p. 301-313.

Stephens, J.C. 1997-98. Factors limiting the acceptance and use of innovative environmental technologies: A case study of the Solar Aquatics System™ (SAS) technology for wastewater treatment. Journal of Environmental Systems. Vol. 26, No. 2, p. 163-170.