Expert habits of mind: Implications for knowledge co-production in energy transitions

Weston M. Eaton, Morey Burnham, Christine Kirchoff, C. Clare Hinrichs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Knowledge co-production is widely seen as a promising approach for more innovative, durable, and democratic solutions to complex energy and climate problems. Successful knowledge co-production requires the authentic participation of all actors, experts included. By authentic participation, we mean receptivity to and valuing interactions and relationships with diverse actors; sharing power; and collaboratively identifying problems, solutions, and shaping research. In this Perspective, we highlight the importance of habits of mind involving routine styles of thinking and interacting common among some expert groups that inhibit listening, taking seriously, and seeing value in diverse perspectives. We argue that such habits of mind may impair the authentic participation of technoscientific experts, whose expertise is vital but insufficient for co-producing knowledge. We support this argument through a review of empirical work conducted with U.S. bioenergy experts to identify habits of mind including assumptions experts make about human behavior and how they imagine energy transitions unfolding as posing potential barriers to their authentic participation in collaborative research. Building on these empirical insights, we suggest that future research should ask whether and how habits of mind shape experts’ willingness to engage and the quality of their interaction with others in collaborative research processes. We outline several research directions including investigating how habits of mind are learned, whether and how they transform, and how they differ across expert groups, that could advance our understanding of the potential for knowledge co-production in addressing energy and climate challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102234
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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