Penn welcomes energy justice scholar Sanya Carley

Carley will be the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Energy Policy and City Planning in the Weitzman School with an affiliation with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

Sanya Carley.
Image: Courtesy of the Weitzman School

Energy justice scholar Sanya Carley is currently an O’Neill Professor at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and associate vice provost of faculty and academic affairs at Indiana University. Beginning July 1, 2023, Carley will be Presidential Distinguished Professor of Energy Policy and City Planning at Penn, with an appointment in the Department of City & Regional Planning and an affiliation with the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. She will hold secondary appointments in the Department of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School and at the School of Social Policy & Practice.

“I’m honored and excited to forge connections across the University to contribute to the lively conversation and impressive body of knowledge the Kleinman Center has facilitated,” says Carley, who will teach courses on the topics of evidence-based decision making, energy economics and public policy, and energy justice. In addition, she will serve as faculty co-director with Mark Alan Hughes, the Kleinman Center’s founding faculty director, in 2023-2024 before stepping into the role of faculty director.

“Sanya’s research is critical to navigating a just transition to an energy system capable of meeting the immensely complex challenge of expanding shared prosperity and security while reversing a century of accelerating climate change wrought by the existing energy system,” says Hughes, the founding faculty director of the Kleinman Center. “The Kleinman Center is committed to policy design and implementation at the intersection of energy, climate, and society and we are thrilled to welcome Sanya’s expertise to Penn to advance this important endeavor.”

“When you have schools of design, business, and social policy and practice come together for a faculty appointment, you know you’re dealing with an exceptional thinker,” says Fritz Steiner, dean and Paley Professor at Weitzman. “I’m confident Sanya will find enthusiastic collaborators on the faculty and I know her work will be inspirational to our students.”

Carley’s research focuses on energy justice and the policies aimed at advancing the innovation of low-carbon and efficient energy technologies in both the electricity and transportation sectors. In her most recent policy digest, published as a 2022-2023 Kleinman Center Visiting Scholar, she evaluates the incidence and implications of energy insecurity and utility disconnections for low-income families during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her ongoing work examines the equity and justice dimensions of the U.S. energy transition, including research on coal communities, autoworker communities, and American households that face utility hardship. Carley also has a large body of research on the design and effectiveness of various electricity and transportation policies such as renewable portfolio standards and corporate average fuel economy standards. She co-directs the Energy Research Lab and hosted a limited-run podcast, Just Energy.

Carley is the third faculty recruitment to Penn facilitated by the Kleinman Center, following the 2020 hire of carbon capture expert Jennifer Wilcox, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Energy Policy who is currently on leave from Penn to serve in the Department of Energy as principal deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, and the 2021 hire of Shelley Welton, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Law and Energy Policy. All three hires were made possible by an anonymous $30 million dollar gift to the Kleinman Center in 2019, as well as generous University support.

A member of the faculty at IU since 2010, Carley is a former director of the Master of Public Affairs program and an award-winning instructor of courses on energy economics, energy policy, energy justice, research design, and evidence-based decision-making.

Carley chairs the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Technical Advisory Committee and she is a member of the National Academies’ Innovation Policy Forum and the Roundtable on Macroeconomics and Climate-related Risks and Opportunities. She is an author on the 5th National Climate Assessment report, an authoritative source on climate change impacts in the U.S. She has served as a consultant for the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Bank Group, among others.

Carley was recently honored with the Association of Public Policy and Management’s David N. Kershaw Award for making distinguished research contributions toward public policy and management and the U.S. Association of Energy Economic’s Senior Fellow Award.

Carley has a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; an MS in urban and regional planning and a Master’s Certificate in Energy Analysis and Policy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds BAs in economics and sustainable development from Swarthmore College.

This story originally appears in Weitzman News.