"Solar Development in Southeastern California: A field-based learning experience combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies”

Authors: Charmaine Dalisay*, University of Southern California, Jennifer Bernstein, University of Southern California , Jennifer Swift , University of Southern California
Topics: Energy
Keywords: solar, renewable energy, southeastern california, environmental injustice, animals, habitat, landuse, climate change
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 2016, the Renewable Energy Action Team identified sites for renewable energy development in eastern California (DCREP 2019). This paper, situated within the digital humanities, was funded by the University of Southern California’s Undergraduate Research Associates Program. The grant enabled this undergraduate student to conduct a site visit to eastern California to speak with local residents about their attitudes towards solar and visit clean energy facilities, with attention paid to place, space, and temporal scale. This type of field-based experience, which has been documented as a vehicle for environmental change (Stehno 1986), enabled a deep understanding of the technical, political, economic, and social aspects of solar power in the region, per the energy justice work of Mulvaney (2018). This presentation presents the outcome of this student’s research, namely developing a publicly-available story map communicating her analysis and experience. This interactive map merged data, maps, photographs, and interviews, as well the student’s own encounters, to create an engaging and accessible narrative as to the political, cultural, economic, and ecological implications of solar development in the region. Ultimately, the project demonstrates that the art of interdisciplinary digital storytelling is accessible at the undergraduate level, and can accommodate quantitative and qualitative data.

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