Professor Cyrus Mody receives NWO Vici grant

Cyrus Mody, historian of science and technology at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), 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’.

Research project

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 the price of oil rapidly increased and oil became a scare resource for many consumers.

Professor Mody’s research project will look into the oil industry’s relationship to this debate around the scarcity of resources. Some oil executives were leading figures in this debate, and many oil companies were 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, such as computing and biotechnology. A postdoctoral candidate will be appointed to look at the scarcity debate, with particular attention to computer forecasts and the ‘Limits to Growth’ report.

Vici grants are intended for highly experienced scientists who have already developed an innovative line of research. With the money, the laureates can build their own research group over the next five years.

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