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It's all in the family for history professor

September 26, 2013

As a third generation academic, with a grandfather and both parents having been English professors before him, Christopher Jones is pleased to keep what he calls the “family business” going. Though he considered other avenues, such as technology and law, Jones felt the draw of teaching and research was too enticing to pass up. 

Now, as an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he seeks to bring his unique perspective on energy transitions into the classroom to inspire his students and improve their critical thinking skills. 

“My teaching is guided by the belief that how a class is taught matters as much as the content of the course,” he said. “My favorite teachers were the ones who brought their subjects to life, made connections to contemporary issues and focused on building skills.”

This semester he is enjoying implementing these ideas in courses on the history of energy and the history of business.  

In his research, Jones looks to the past to discover keys for a more sustainable energy future. “Grappling with how we came to depend on fossil fuels,” he argues, “can help us chart a path toward renewable energy systems.”

Having previously studied or held positions at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and the University of California-Berkeley, Jones brings a lot to the table. His first book, “Routes of Power: Energy and Modern America,” explores the causes and consequences of America’s first energy transitions – the rising of coal, oil and electricity from 1820 to 1930 – and will be published by Harvard University Press next spring. 

Jones has received prestigious research fellowships at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, the University of Virginia Miller Center for Public Affairs and the Ciriacy-Wantrup Fellowship at Berkeley. When he’s not busy in the classroom, Jones also blogs about energy for the Huffington Post and tweets about energy history (@EnergyHistorian).