NWO Vici grant for Cyrus Mody

Cyrus Mody, historian of science and technology at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has received an NWO Vici grant of €1,500,000 for his research project ‘Managing Scarcity and Sustainability: The Oil Industry, Environmentalism, and Alternative Energy in the Age of Scarcity’.

In the 1960s and the 1970s, a debate emerged around the possible scarcity of resources. The ‘Limits to Growth’ report published in 1972 exacerbated this debate. It concluded that if there would be no changes in the growth trend in food, services and other resource alike, the scarcity of these resources would become evident by 2072. The oil crises of 1973 and 1979 showed the reality of this prediction, when production of oil went down and it became a scarce resource.

Professor Mody’s research project will look into the oil industry’s relationship to this debate around the scarcity of resources. The oil industry was in fact in the lead of this debate and was looking into alternative energy sources, such as nuclear and solar energy. Two PhD candidates will be involved in the project: one will focus on nuclear energy and the other on solar energy. Professor Mody himself will look into the oil industry’s involvement in other innovative technologies that on the surface might not seem related, but in fact are. A postdoctoral candidate will be appointed to look at scarcity more generally, also focusing on the ‘Limits to Growth’ report.

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