Kevin Anderson

Professor of Energy and Climate Change

Tyndall Centre

Kevin Anderson

One of my favourite aspects of teaching is being asked thought-provoking questions by a generation that will have to deal with the difficult challenges our neglect of the climate has left them with. The students are as much teachers in my area as are the professors.

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Our School

Much of my academic life has been in and around Manchester. I studied for my degree here in the early 80s, then after a lengthy spell in the petrochemical industry, returned to do a Masters and PhD.

The School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering is a good one to be based in; I work with a fine bunch of vibrant and thorough researchers, and the rock climbing in the nearby Peak District is hard to beat!

We have a range of disciplinary skills and expertise here; from engineers experimenting with wave power, to investigating the thermodynamics of bio fuel, through to those exploring the possibility of geo-engineering the climate.

All this exists in one School – a School that is genuinely open to interdisciplinary research both within its boundaries and in collaboration with other Schools across the University.

Teaching

My lectures are 80% based on the research I undertake and engage with. My research relates to the changing world of technology, politics, economics and – of course – rapidly rising emissions. Put simply, there are no textbooks that adequately capture the dynamic area in which I work, so lectures have to be research-based.

One of my favourite aspects of teaching is being asked thought-provoking questions by a generation that will have to deal with the difficult challenges our neglect of the climate has left them with. The students are as much teachers in my area as are the professors.

Graduates leave seeing the world through much richer eyes, and they realise problems and solutions are never black and white. A mix of thoroughness of thought, openness to ideas and a healthy dose of humility is as much as I could ask from any student.

Research

My research involves synthesising cutting-edge research on energy and climate change, from engineering and science to social science and economics, and using this to develop a systems view of how a modern, vibrant and fair society can be reconciled with a zero carbon future.

The real challenge as an academic is to understand the issues from across the disciplines: a mechanical engineer looks at problems differently to an electrical engineer, a physicist, psychologist or economist. My job is to understand and engage with them all and develop reasoned, interdisciplinary responses to complex problems.

Thinking, arguing, writing and reading – in that order – are what I enjoy most about research. Once that is over and the analysis of a research paper has been carefully and dispassionately developed and written, the fun begins. Discussion and conclusion is where a thorough researcher can appropriately let rip; justified by all the hard graft and rigour of the earlier analysis.

The next best part is the dissemination: presenting and defending your own research, ideas and conclusions. The more probing and healthily sceptical the audience, the more engaging and valuable is the dissemination.

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