Professor of Environmental Studies
Environmental policy and politics

Olin-Rice Science Center, 249b

Curriculum Vitae

Professor Phadke’s teaching and research focus on energy and climate policy, citizen science, community based research methodologies and sustainable development initiatives.  She is currently the principal investigator on a multiyear National Science Foundation study on Mining Futures. With her Macalester colleague Christie Manning, she directed a NOAA funded project on diversity and deliberation in urban climate adaptation called Ready & Resilient, which received a 2016 award from the Climate Adaptation Partnership. Locally, she serves on several boards including with Northern Lights, Climate Generation and the Water Bar in Minneapolis. Internationally, she serves on the advisory board for the School for International Training and on the Governing Council for the Society for the Social Studies of Science (known as 4s). She has also served as one of co-organizers of the U.S WorldWide Views on Climate and Energy project, sponsored by the Danish Board of Technology to provide citizen input into the UN Climate Summit.

  • BA in Political Science, Wellesley College, 1994
  • MA in South Asian Studies, Cornell University, 1998
  • PhD in Environmental Studies, Univ. of CA, Santa Cruz, 2003


Professor Phadke’s teaching centers on domestic and international environmental politics and policy. My courses also connect closely with my research interests: technology and democracy, water and energy, participatory development.

Her course assignments aim to build Environmental Studies core competencies, such as strong writing, problem solving, team building and visual and oral presentation skills. I am also interested in helping my students build undergraduate project portfolios that include a wide variety of samples of professional quality work. As a result, students in my classes write and publish op-eds, design scientific posters, create websites and pitch grant proposals as final papers. My courses also have significant civic engagement components. The student project section illustrates some of this work.

Course Syllabi

Student Projects

ENVI 194 – Welcome to the Anthropocene

  • An exhibit brought to you by the first-year students in this class.

ENVI 252 – Water and Power

ENVI 335 – Science and Citizenship

  • Marijuana – Podcast by Jared Sousa ’17

ENVI 394 – Environment, Health and Society

Honors Thesis

  • “Straws in the Wind: Race, Nature, and Technoscience in Postcolonial South Dakotan Wind Power Development” by Kai Bosworth ’10. How is wind power dynamically imbued with meanings, language, and images that seek to unevenly position the technology in relation to groups of humans, natures, and geographies? How are boundaries constructed and challenged through the production of knowledge, technology, and nature? This paper seeks to unpack the conditions of possibility that govern wind power on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in western South Dakota. By examining the circulation of discourses and texts, I argue that narratives that position indigenous people within environmentalism are reproduced in wind power discourse, overshadowing complex networks of power, colonialism, race, nature, science and technology.
  • “Regional Activism in Context: Hydropower Development and Social Justice Activism in Northern Manitoba” by Kat Sachs ’06. Focusing on the intersection of globalization, aboriginal sovereignty issues, regional colonial legacies, and environmental and social injustice, this thesis examines with the lens of activism, the ways that economic and political forces have manifested themselves in the landscape of Northern Manitoba through large scale hydropower development on indigenous lands. Relying on this contextual background, this thesis evaluates the efficacy and strength with which a multifaceted social movement consisting of grassroots activism, academic and artistic advocacy, middle-reaches environmental and social justice organizations, and the newspaper media has emerged in reaction to the social and environmental effects of hydropower.

Davis Projects for Peace Winners


My research interests over the last ten years have focused on the environmental and technology politics. I work at the interface of two academic fields: political ecology and science, technology and society (STS). On issues ranging from hydropower to wind energy, I have examined how participatory planning and design techniques build social acceptance, promote justice, and produce locally relevant meanings that root material artifacts, like dams and turbines, to a sense of place. While my dissertation research focused on participatory technology development in South Asia, my more recent work examines these issues within North America.

My research on water development in India aimed to develop a richer understanding of how alternative development models promote participatory technology design. My dissertation chronicled the evolution of water politics in the Krishna Valley region of western India as an example of People’s Science organizing. The People’s Science movements in India represent exemplary cases of citizen science reshaping technological decision-making. Through diverse hydrological experiments in the Krishna Valley, social movement leaders have built a corpus of knowledge about how infrastructure can be designed toward the goals of increasing equity and end-use efficiency.

My second major project explores environmental politics and social movement organizingin the context of American wind energy development. This research has examined community opposition to utility-scale wind energy development, with a focus on claims of “visual pollution.” While scholars, politicians and industry leaders often dismiss this sort of resistance as examples of “NIMBYism” (not in my back yard), my research has argued that community concerns about landscape change are linked to perceptions of social and political disenfranchisement in project planning. I am interested in how these conflicts raise challenges for government expertise and create opportunities for new models of deliberative decision-making.


Selected Publications

  • Kinchy, A., R. Phadke and J. Smith. 2018. “Engaging the Underground: An STS Field in Formation,” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society, Volume 4 (2018): 22-42.
  • Phadke, R. 2018. “Green Energy Futures: Responsible Mining on Minnesota’s Iron Range,” Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 35: 163-173.
  • Phadke, R., C. Manning and S. Burlager. 2015. “Making it Personal: Diversity and Deliberation in Climate Adaptation Planning,” Climate Risk Management. Volume 9: 62-76.
  • Phadke, R. 2011. “Resisting and Reconciling Big Wind: Middle Landscape Politics in the New American West,” Antipode, Volume 43 (3): 754-776.
  • Phadke, R. 2010. “Defending Place in the Google Earth Age,” Ethics, Place and Environment. Volume 13 (3).
  • Phadke, R. 2010. “Steel Forests and Smoke Stacks: The Politics of Visualization in the Cape Wind Controversy,” Environmental Politics. Volume 19 (1): 1-20.
  • Phadke, R. 2005. “People’s Science in Action: The Politics of Protest and Knowledge Brokering in India,” Society and Natural Resources, Vol. 18: 363-375. (Also re-printed in D. Johnson and J. Wetmore (eds). 2008. Technology and Society: Building Our Sociotechnical Future. Cambridge: MIT Press. Pp. 499-514.
  • Phadke, R. 2002. “Assessing Water Scarcity and Watershed Development in Maharashtra, India: A Case Study of the Baliraja Memorial Dam,” Science, Technology & Human Values,Vol. 27 (2): 236-261.
  • Phadke, R., C. Manning, A. Diebolt and M. Kazinka. 2009. Wind Energy and Scenic Considerations in Wyoming. Proceedings from a June 2009 Workshop.