During her visit to Rice, Dr. Kristin Shrader-Frechette spoke with a small group of undergraduates about her work and the Cultures of Energy initiative. She told us repeatedly to exercise extreme caution when designing our tentative course syllabus, emphasizing the necessity of working closely with “experts” to cultivate a body of legitimate, worthwhile texts. While we of course appreciate Dr. Shrader-Frechette’s advice, it is a little perplexing. Who are the experts we should seek out? Are they predominantly scientists, or are they mostly humanists? How do we find the experts in an interdisciplinary field which we are in some ways shaping ourselves?
Bewildered, another undergraduate fellow and I have entertained the thought of exploring lengthy lists of faculty members at various universities, hoping to find someone whose knowledge and scholarly output would meet Dr. Shrader-Frechette’s definition of expertise. Looking through countless bibliographies and résumés is, understandably, not my definition of a good time, so I’ve been dreading this hunt for experts. Luckily, without having to do much research–or even having to look past Rice’s hedges–I think I’ve stumbled upon an expert, someone familiar with both academia and the complicated world of energy politics.