Daniel Aldana Cohen named CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar

Two UC Berkeley faculty members from the College of Letters & Science, Daniel Aldana Cohen and Ellora Derenoncourt, have been named CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars. CIFAR invites 19 exceptional early-career researchers from across the natural, biomedical and social sciences and the humanities to join one of their interdisciplinary research programs that address some of the most important questions facing science and humanity. Scholars are awarded $100,000 in unrestricted research support and receive a two-year term in a CIFAR research program. 

Daniel Aldana Cohen is an incoming assistant professor of sociology and will join UC Berkeley in July 2021. His work focuses on the politics of climate change, investigating the intersections of climate change, housing, political economy, social movements, and inequalities of race and social class. 

How will this grant intersect with your area of expertise? 

I’ll be working with CIFAR’s Innovation, Equity & Future of Prosperity program. It’s a timely moment to work on industrial policy, which is back in fashion now, and will be a key tool in fighting the climate emergency. With this program, I plan to consider ways to generate greater economic and racial equity through green investments, especially in this period of post-COVID stimulus programs. For several years, the direction of my work has been examining the politics of the climate emergency - I’ve studied eco-apartheid and the kinds of policy that would decarbonize economic life, while tackling race and class inequalities. I also believe any democratic energy transition has to be an anti-racist transition. Previous rounds of public investment have not succeeded in this. This is a dimension of the climate crisis that needs more scholarly attention. 

What aspects of this program and opportunity excite you most?

In general, I’m the happiest working across disciplinary silos, especially to understand climate change politics, and this program will let me do that work. As social scientists, we can see far more broadly by bringing scholars together in conversation about big changes that are coming to the world. No one can make sense of all this alone. I’m interested in the worlds of artificial intelligence and biomedicine, and the CIFAR fellowship will allow me to learn from new colleagues about the big changes afoot in those fields and how they intersect with climate politics.