Doug Bessette

Doug Bessette

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Associate Professor
Department of Community Sustainability


I research and teach courses in clean energy, energy transitions (and traditions), the social acceptance of renewables, and community energy development. I integrate applied decision research, critical geography, and theories of place to better understand the risks of, barriers to and opportunities for clean energy system development in the US and abroad. My current research focuses on understanding support for and opposition to utility-scale renewable energy systems (i.e., wind and solar), siting, operation, and adoption at multiple scales. I advocate for greater community influence and control over renewables, economic development, improved local decision-making processes, and aligning energy development outcomes with community values.

I tend to work in large multi-institutional interdisciplinary teams, having led an NSF-funded project examining rural and Tribal energy sovereignty, and work on Community-Centered Solar Development (CCSD) for the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office. My past research has spanned multiple contexts including organic and sustainable agriculture, coastal climate risk management, natural resource management in developing territories and green infrastructure.

I earned my PhD in Geography from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, my MSc from the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (now CSUS) at MSU, and a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan. Following completion of my PhD, I worked as a postdoctoral scholar with the Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management at Penn State University and as a Senior Research Associate in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University. Before completing my undergraduate degree I served four years in the U.S. Army as an M1A1 tanker. I am also a certified yoga instructor.

Doug is also an affiliated faculty member of the Environmental Science & Policy Program (ESPP) at MSU.

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Follow Doug on Twitter at @dlbessette.

Recent Publications

Kannan, S. & D. Bessette (2023). Grid and off-grid electricity impacts on gendered time use in Zambia. Energy for Sustainable Development.  Vol. 76.

Bessette, D., D. Brainard, A. Srivastava, W. Lee, & S. Geurkink (2022). Battery electric tractors for sustainable organic farming: Growers’ preferences and perceptions. Energies.

Crawford, J., D. Bessette & S.B. Mills (2022) Rallying the anti-crowd: Organized opposition, democratic deficit, and a potential social gap in large-scale solar energy. Energy Research & Social Science. Vol. 90.

Bessette, D. & J. Crawford (2022) All’s fair in love and WAR: The conduct of wind acceptance research (WAR) in the United States and Canada. Energy Research & Social Science. Vol. 88.

Bessette, D. & S. Mills. (2021). Farmers vs. Lakers: Agriculture, amenity, and community in predicting opposition to United States wind energy development. Energy Research & Social Science. 

Bessette, D., M. Rutty, G. Gunn, V. Tarabara, & R. Richardson. (2020) The perceived risk of underwater oil pipelines in icy conditions. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 

Bessette, D. & R. Gregory. (2020) The promise and reality of social-cultural metrics. Ecology and Society, Vol 25. 

Brosemer, K., C. Schelly, V. Gagnon, K. Arola, J. Pearce, D. Bessette & L. Schmitt Olabisi. (2020). The energy crises revealed by COVID: Intersections of indigeneity, inequity and health. Energy Research & Social Science, Vol. 68.