Fracking Disruptions

Jennifer Dodge, winner of a Paul A. Volcker Junior Scholar Research Grant Award. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 8, 2016) — Rockefeller College Assistant Professor Jennifer Dodge sees controversial issues like hydrofracking disrupting governance. The American Political Science Association (APSA) saw Dodge’s proposed investigation into the matter to be worthy of one of its top research awards.

Dodge, a faculty member in the Department of Public Administration & Policy, received the Paul A. Volcker Junior Scholar Research Grant Award last week at the APSA annual meeting in Philadelphia for her proposal, “Technological controversies and emerging governance: The case of ‘fracking’ in New York and Pennsylvania.”

The research will explore how the process of hydrofracking disrupted routines in the two states related to managing water pollution, air emissions and land disturbance, and how different responses by the states produced different forms of energy and environmental governance. In her preliminary investigations, for instance, Dodge observed that the routines of waster water treatment plants in New York were disrupted when activists and reporters started asking questions about how water resources would be protected.

“In this project, I’m trying to understand some of the complexities of governing controversial technologies in the midst of ongoing conflict, a situation that seems to characterize many important policy areas these days,” said Dodge.

“On a practical level, this knowledge will inform technology assessment for public managers as well as citizens and industry. My goal is to inform how we can more effectively govern and assess new technologies in the midst of social and political conflict.”

The Volcker award, named for the former Federal Reserve Board chairman, supports research on public administration issues affecting governance in the U.S. and abroad. Proposals are judged on their potential to shed new light on important public administration questions, their scholarly and methodological rigor, and their promise for advancing practice and theory development.

“It’s a great feeling to be recognized by senior scholars and peers in my field, and receive seed funding to start a new project,” said Dodge. “It’s a real boost of confidence that I’m on the right track with the kinds of questions I’m asking in my research and with the cases that I’m examining. Junior scholars need this support to develop research projects so they can do meaningful research and leverage larger grants to support that work.”

Dodge's research interests include the role of nonprofit organizations in public deliberation, policy advocacy, and democratic governance; public and social change leadership; environmental politics; and the application of qualitative research methods to the study of public administration and policy.

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