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Exploring the past to better understand today and tomorrow

Petra Dolata’s research reveals how heavily decisions of the past influence today’s energy industry


By Faculty of Arts
May 2, 2017

Petra Dolata is a storyteller by nature and by vocation. As a historian, she studies events of the past to explore the issues of today and their impacts on the future. Dolata looks to the 1970s-energy crisis, energy integration in Europe and North America, and oil and gas exploration in Artic Canada to show how these different histories of energy affect the role energy plays today in society and politics.

An associate professor in the Department of History and a Tier II Canada Research Chair in the history of Energy, Dolata is the co-convener of the Energy in Society working group at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities (CIH).  Not only is she investigating how governments address energy security nationally and internationally, but also how people within societies are dealing with uncertainty and dependence on outside forces. She hopes that a thorough knowledge of energy history will facilitate energy literacy – an understanding of our energy use and production, and specific decisions of the past that make it difficult to pursue new ways to produce energy.

Dolata’s discussion of energy security as a powerful story that continues to influence politics happens both on campus and in the local community where she has frequently been invited to participate in public discourse on the topic through public lectures in the History Matters series and at the Petroleum History Society.

Originally from Germany, Dolata is an accomplished researcher with a diverse international experience. Her appointment as a Tier ll Canada Research Chair is a testament to her commitment to excellence in research, while her varied experience adds global perspective to the University of Calgary.

Dolata is inspired by the constant discovery that comes from working with colleagues from various disciplines. “We remain learners ourselves as we continue our research and consider new collaborations. That’s what makes the humanities strong – learning never stops.”

Dolata is but one example of how the Faculty of Arts is engaging communities through critical and creative research.

Energizing Arts 2017-22

Energizing Arts sets the direction for the Faculty of Arts over the next five years to engage, inspire and discover the world and its relationship to it through critical inquiry, creative practice and collaborative exploration.

The strategy is built upon three priorities:

  • Critical and creative research, teaching and learning;
  • Engaging communities; and
  • Citizenship, diversity and inclusion.

For more information, please email artsdean@ucalgary.ca.