Xi Wang

Assistant Professor


I am an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Energy Studies (IES) and the Department of Environmental Studies (ENVS) at Western Washington University (WWU).

I am interested in questions of energy and climate governance, especially in the context of energy system transitions and efforts at deep decarbonization. I approach these questions at the intersection of energy policy and critical social science. My M.S. research focuses on understanding the development of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) as a policy instrument within the broader context of U.S. energy law and regulation. My Ph.D. work examines coal-led industrialization in post-Opening Up and Reform China to understand the pressing present-day issue of coal generation overcapacity. Not only do building too many coal power plants severely constrain our future emissions pathways, but has also had severe labor, social, and health consequences, especially for already-marginalized groups in China.

I have also been exploring audio as a form of art and a medium of knowledge production and public outreach. I recently co-produced an audio project, Homeward Bound, about how people’s relationship to home and access to shelter have changed during COVID-19 in Boulder, CO.

Aside from scholarship, I serve on the Equity Advisory Group to Puget Sound Energy (PSE), the electricity utility serving Whatcom and 7 other counties in Washington state, helping advise PSE on equity issues in its clean energy transition. I have also served on the Executive Board of the Committee on Rights and Compensation at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder, which pushed for the unionization of CU workers and is now a wall-to-wall union, United Campus Workers - Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 7799. In Boulder, I was on the Executive Board of Boulder Cooperative Food, a worker-owned and -operated bulk food cooperative. I have also worked in community organizing for food, environmental, and social justice in Washington D.C., for the consulting firm Booz Allen, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.


PhD in Geography, MS in Environmental Studies, University of Colorado-Boulder; BA in English Literature, Cornell University

Research Interests

energy policy, political economy of electricity systems, energy infrastructures, industrial labor and organization, climate governance, community solutions to climate change


Refereed Publications

  • Wang, X. (2022). Managing the problem of too much capital: Coal power overcapacity, migrant labor sacrifice, and structural problems in contemporary Chinese political economy. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. (OnlineFirst). https://doi.org/10.1177/25148486221123418

Commentaries and Technical Reports

Select Invited Talks

  • China’s Painful Transition to a Clean Energy Future. October 2021. China Environment Forum, The Wilson Center, Washington, D.C.
  • Conducting Social Science Research in China. June 2018. Fulbright East Asia and Pacific Orientation, Department of State, Washington, D.C.
  • Undergraduate Majors in the Humanities and Social Sciences. June 2017. EducationUSA Panel on Undergraduate Majors, U.S. Embassy, Beijing, China

Creative Projects

  • Homeward Bound Audio Project: An audio art and oral histories project featuring housing oral histories that document the experiences of shelter for community members of Boulder, Colorado during the first year of COVID-19.

Teaching Schedule

Fall 2022:
ENRG 352 / UEPP 352 - Climate Change Policy Tools

Winter 2023:
ENRG 459 / UEPP 459 - Advanced Energy Policy

Spring 2023:
ENRG 344 / UEPP 344 - Community Solutions to Climate Change

ENRG 449 / UEPP 449 - Northwest Energy Systems Transitions