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Getting real about climate change

The Planetary Solutions in Clean Energy Internship and Fellowship Program (PSiCE) offers summer research and internship opportunities to students at Yale who are committed to advancing and pursuing a career in the clean energy field. This year we spoke with students in our second cohort to learn about their inspiration, goals, and experience through the program. Droughts, fires, floods, sea-level rise, heat waves, and extreme weather are only some of the ongoing challenges relating to climate change that continue to deepen and intensify with every new season. 

Through the Yale School of the Environment (YSE), and as a PSiCE fellow, Alison, a Master of Environmental Management Candidate specializing in Environmental Policy Analysis and Climate Change Science and Solutions, wants to be at the forefront of change. In order to do so, she believes we must evolve in our approach to addressing environmental problems.

“A significant first step to solving these problems is through supporting the rapid deployment of clean energy. As I learn more about clean energy and energy systems, I am determined to develop energy solutions to climate change that leave no community or ecosystem behind. It is through decarbonization and renewable energy deployment that we can achieve this at local and global levels.”

Climate Change is a systems-level problem, and envisioning a just clean energy transition would look like a tall order without a firm grounding in the complexities and nuances involved. For Alison, a just transition would start by being all-inclusive. It would have to consider all people from all backgrounds and locations and will leave no one out of the conversation and plan of action.

“A just clean energy transition also prioritizes addressing the clean energy needs of communities that have historically been excluded from the climate conversation and are facing the burdens of climate change the greatest. Lastly, a just clean energy transition is interdisciplinary; it considers a broad range of systems and concerns that interconnect with energy issues.”

Alison’s passion is clear, so the PSiCE program was a good match. She credited the mentorship components and of course, the opportunity to engage in meaningful clean energy work. When pursuing an internship, she hoped to find opportunities to participate with peers, work across disciplines, and apply her classroom knowledge in the real world.

Match made.

“Not only did the program connect me with an extraordinary team at Rewiring America, but also, my fellowship cohort has been supportive throughout the summer. I have received incredible mentorship experiences from the Yale Center Business and the Environment (CBEY) team and have developed great friendships with the PSiCE fellows.”

Through PSiCE, Alison, set to graduate in May 2024, has been serving as a Community Fellow at Rewiring America. There, she supports the Community Team in implementing community-scale electrification projects across target communities in the United States. She has also had the opportunity to conduct landscape analyses for Rewiring Communities projects. Conducting landscape analyses helped to solidify Alison’s understanding of electrification potential, opportunities, and challenges in Connecticut, the Navajo Nation, and the Muscogee Nation.

Alison Thompson SM

“My reports have assisted Rewiring America staff with establishing points of entry for community-scale electrification. Additionally, I have worked on a new project for the Local Government Leaders Coalition, a community-led electrification case study project. This project aims to identify leading communities and generate visibility to showcase where community-led residential electrification occurs across the country. Through this project, I have applied the skills and knowledge I have developed in my courses at YSE, including policy analysis, memo writing, data analysis and visualizations, and community engagement.”

The PSiCE fellowship has paved the way for Alison to apply the knowledge and skills gained from classes, seminars, and projects, to real-world problems. Furthermore, it has helped her develop a professional network and provided her with opportunities to engage with alums and clean energy professionals through CBEY.

“The PSiCE program is an incredible opportunity that will allow you to work alongside leading clean energy organizations across the United States. From weekly lunch-and-learns to cohort meetings, the PSiCE fellowship provides an 8-in-1 internship opportunity to experience energy leadership and problem-solving approaches from eight diverse organizations. PSiCE also helps you further develop your professional network and diversify your perspective on the best approaches to addressing clean energy problems and developing solutions. It was an incredible experience and something I recommend to all YSE students!”