European Humanities University became a partner in a newly funded Horizon2020 project entitled History of Nuclear Energy and Society (HoNESt) that will launch on September 1 2015.
Funded by Horizon 2020/Euratom, the collaborative research project sets out to explain the changes and differences in European societies’ relations with nuclear energy on the basis of the historical experience.
HoNESt is the work of an interdisciplinary consortium of researchers in 23 partner institutions across Europe, many of which are leading experts in their fields. It provides the first comprehensive comparative and transnational analysis of nuclear developments and their relations with society, offering novel explanations and arguments. The scope of the research is unprecedentedly broad in both time and space, covering the experience of 20 countries and international organizations over the past 70 years.
“EHU’s contribution to the project consists in providing research into the history of post-soviet nuclear programs, particularly in Lithuania. In 2004, as a result of negotiations on EU adhesion, the Lithuanian authorities have decided to shut down the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) with the largest Chernobyl type reactor. The current project aims to examine the outcomes of this political decision as they relate to the differing aspects of the nuclear program during the soviet and post-soviet periods in Lithuania. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the project will investigate the aspects of social mobilization and political participation, the engineering thinking and technical logic of the processes of the construction and decommission of the Ignalina NPP, and the impact that it has had in the region. EHU’s Social and Political Sciences Department will carry out this research work”, explains Dr. Andrei Stsiapanau, associate professor and Head of EHU’s Social and political science department.
HoNESt sets out to develop an innovative interdisciplinary framework, combining insights from the history of technology, science and technology studies, environmental history, economic and business history, social movement research, and the study of societal engagement. Moving beyond disciplinary boundaries, the project embraces the complexity of the political, technological, economic and environmental dimensions, issues of safety, risk perception and communication, societal acceptance and engagement and media framing.
Societal perceptions of and political responses to nuclear power differ widely between European countries. Public debates about nuclear issues have been characterised by mutual miscomprehensions. Against this backdrop, HoNESt takes seriously the roles and often contradictory perspectives of the actors involved—industry, policy makers, experts, civil society actors and the media, as well as the rapidly changing societal, economic, political and technological contexts.
The project combines three parts that are intricately interlinked.
First, it offers a systematic historical analysis of nuclear developments and societal perceptions across 20 countries, as well as the relevant international organizations and transnational societal actors. HoNESt will provide, therefore, an unprecedentedly comprehensive empirical resource and support a new narrative of this history that has so far remained scattered.
Secondly, this empirical base also allows for a comprehensive understanding of the causes and mechanisms underlying the varying social perceptions of and engagement with nuclear power from a variety of social science perspectives.
Thirdly, the project is not limited to the ivory tower. Instead, HoNESt will systematically engage with stakeholders from industry, associations, policy makers, as well as civil society. Thus, HoNESt will itself make an important contribution to the ongoing debates about nuclear energy – as well as issues of new technologies more generally.