What is it about?

Developing sustainable energy solutions for off-grid communities is one of the most pressing challenges in the world today. This paper describes a framework for an approach we call “Inclusive Engineering” developed by our interdisciplinary team and communitarians that can help to ensure that solutions developed are appropriate and adoptable by the people who need them.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that addressing large global issues, such as supplying sustainable sources of electricity to the 680 million people around the world who live without it, requires a revolutionary approach that includes scientists and scholars from a variety of disciplines (in our case, social sciences, engineering and communications) working collaboratively with community members. This approach disrupts what has historically been a top-down model for creating and disseminating new technology. Furthermore, solutions created can more successfully address needs and will also have a higher rate of adoption by the people meant to use the technology because they are included in the entire process of creating it.


We hope this article will inspire scientists and scholars from different disciplines to employ the framework and approach we propose—working collaboratively with each other and community members when seeking solutions to the world’s vexing challenges. The benefits of leaving disciplinary silos behind and bringing communitarians into the creative and research processes supports a more holistic approach that will certainly yield better results and adoptability for the technologies and solutions that emerge. The research presented is a product of National Science Foundation funding with additional support from the Mott Foundation.

Judith Walgren
Michigan State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Advancing convergence research: Renewable energy solutions for off-grid communities, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2207754119.
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