Member Profile

Jessica Smith

Associate Professor, Colorado School of Mines

Contributor, Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

About Jessica

Jessica M. Smith is an anthropologist and STS scholar whose research interests center on energy, engineering, and public accountability. She is Associate Professor in the Engineering, Design & Society Department at the Colorado School of Mines, where she also directs the Humanitarian Engineering and Science master's program. She spent her 2018 sabbatical as a British Academy Visiting Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). Her book Extracting Accountability: Engineers and Corporate Social Responsibility will be published open access by The MIT Press in September 2021 and was funded by a Cultivating Cultures for Ethical STEM grant from the National Science Foundation. Professor Smith holds a PhD in anthropology and graduate certificate in women's studies from the University of Michigan and a BA from Macalester College, where she majored in anthropology, international studies, and Latin American studies.

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Contributions to Platypus: The CASTAC Blog

View all of Jessica's posts on Platypus: The CASTAC Blog.

Coal, Care, and Climate change: When Things Remember What People Forget

As the US moves toward greener energy futures, how we remember coal – or do not – has significant implications for how we create more just energy transitions. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) eventually came out in support of President Biden’s massive infrastructure plan, likely because it extended a lifeline to mines that produced high quality metallurgical or “coking” coal used in steel manufacture even though it concretized the administration’s commitment to decreasing coal production for energy. As a case in point, the New Elk Mine in southern Colorado fired up again in June 2021, with plans to ship nearly three million tons of coal per year to overseas steel-making plants. The mine’s reopening was noteworthy, given the region’s attempts to create a more sustainable economy in the wake of a major coal bust half a century ago. (more…)