Frank Laird

Frank N. Laird

Associate Professor

Director, MA Global Environmental Sustainability; Global Environmental Change and Adaptation Certificate

What I do

As a faculty member I teach in the fields of the policy making process, energy policy, and environmental policy, especially climate policy. My research and publishing focus on energy policy, the linkage between energy policy and climate change, the role of science in making public policy, and the role of government funding for scientific research and development.


Energy, environment, Science Policy, Role of Expertise in Public Policy Making

Professional Biography

I have an interdisciplinary background, with a BA in physics from Middlebury College, a Ph.D. in political science from MIT, and post-doctoral work in environmental policy at Harvard University. I have collaborated with interdisciplinary groups of scholars and practitioners on research and outreach in my various research fields.
I have been on the faculty at DU since September 1987.


  • Ph.D., Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • BA, Physics, Middlebury College, 1975

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Political Science Association
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
  • Society for the Social Studies of Science


Most of my research has focused on energy policy, especially in relation to renewable energy, resulting in a book and numerous articles in academic and professional policy journals. I have collaborated with colleagues on a project comparing US and other countries with regard to their policies for renewable energy policy and an energy transition more generally. In addition to energy policy, I have also published in the areas of climate change policy, environmental policy, democratic theory and science and technology policy, and the role of institutions science and technology policy. My research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation.

Areas of Research

Energy policy
renewable energy policy
science policy
climate policy.

Key Projects

  • Comparing Renewable Energy Policies: Technical Knowledge and Institutional Structures
  • Institutional Learning and Technological Knowledge

Featured Publications

Laird, Frank N. “Avoiding Transitions, Layering Change: The Evolution Of American Energy Policy.” In Germany's Energy Transition: A Comparative Perspective. edited by Carol Hager and Christoph Stefes. 111-131 London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillian. 2016.
Laird, Frank N. “Against Transitions? Uncovering Conflict In Changing Energy Systems.” Science as Culture 22, no. 2, (2013): 188-195.
Laird, Frank N., and Christoph H. Stefes. “The Diverging Paths Of German And U.s. Policies For Renewable Energy: Sources Of Difference.” Energy Policy 37, no. 7, (2009): 2619-2629.
Laird, Frank N. “Learning Contested Lessons: Participation Equity And Electric Utility Regulation.” Reviews of Policy Research 25, no. 5, (2008): 429-448.
Laird, Frank N. “Constructing The Future: Advocating Energy Technologies In The Cold War.” Technology and Culture 44, no. 1, (2003): 27-49.
Laird, Frank N. Solar Energy, Technology Policy, And Institutional Values. New York and Cambridge, UK, US and UK: Cambridge University Press. 2001. xvii+248.
Laird, Frank N. “The Decline Of Deference: The Political Context Of Risk Communication.” Risk Analysis 9, (1989).


Laird, Frank N. “An Unguided Transition? U.s. Energy Policy Since Ww Ii” Golden, CO, Colorado School of Mines, 2019.
Laird, Frank N. “System-Level Barriers To An Energy Transition” Golden, CO, Colorado School of Mines, 2018.
Laird, Frank N. “System-Level Barriers To An Energy Transition” Annual Meeting Of The American Political Science Association, San Francisco, CA, 2017.
Laird, Frank N. “Differing Approaches To Renewables: The United States And Western Europe” Annual Meeting Of The Committee On International Relations Of The National Association Of Regulatory Unility Commissioners, Denver, CO, National Association of Regulatory Unility Commissioners, 2013.