About Energy Policy Research
The Role of the Baker Institute Energy Forum
Since its founding in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University has become a leading institution advancing effective foreign and domestic policy. One of the hallmarks of the Institute's early years has been its independent research program on energy issues. Located in Houston, Texas, the energy capital of the world, the Baker Institute established the Energy Forum, a multifaceted center that promotes original, forward-looking discussion and research on the energy-related challenges facing our society in the 21st century.
The mission of the Energy Forum is to promote the development of informed and realistic public policy choices in the energy area by educating policy makers and the public about important trends—both regional and global—that shape the nature of global energy markets and influence the quantity and security of vital supplies needed to fuel world economic growth and prosperity. Research efforts focus on enhancing understanding of the complex political, cultural, religious, economic, and social forces that influence open access to energy resources and their equitable distribution.
Rather than centering exclusively on either the theory or practice of energy policy, Energy Forum research seeks to synthesize both by drawing together experts from academia, the energy industry, government, the media, and non-governmental organizations. Our extensive research generates studies and working papers that disseminate up-to-date information and fresh analysis on a wide range of topics, such as global and regional energy security, energy geopolitics, energy resource development, emerging energy technologies, science and technology policy, energy and economic growth, energy forecasting, energy and the environment, and energy sector regulation.
Through our major energy studies as well as workshops, seminars and lectures on a wide variety of topics such as global energy geopolitics, the politics of the Persian Gulf, OPEC, U.S. oil sanctions, alternative energy sources, energy and the environment, technological advances, and energy demand trends, the Baker Institute has established itself as the leading university-based think tank on energy geopolitics and policy. Outstanding scholars from around the world have contributed to Baker Institute energy programs, including researchers from Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, Britain, the Middle East, and Latin America.
Energy Forum studies, policy reports and working papers are posted online at Energy Publications and on the Baker Institute’s website and are distributed in printed copy to the Baker Institute mailing list of industry and government leaders. Baker Institute energy reports are widely quoted in major newspapers and periodicals in the U.S., such as the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times, and are read by top government and energy industry leaders worldwide. Baker Institute energy specialists are invited to present new public policy ideas at international conferences and many other public forums sponsored by other universities and think tanks, the United Nations, and energy industry groups. Baker Institute scholars continue to publish working papers in a wide variety of academic and public policy journals.
Drawing on Rice University's interdisciplinary expertise in environmental engineering, energy sustainability, economics, political science, history, geology, nanoscience, and anthropology, the Baker Institute Energy Forum has published several major studies on energy policy since its inception in 1996. Topics have included the political, social, and cultural trends in the Persian Gulf, Caspian Basin and Russia, the future energy needs of China, Japan, and Latin America, energy security, energy industry deregulation, emerging energy technologies, and U.S. energy policy.
"Oil, Dollar, Debt and Crisis: The Global Curse of Black Gold," offers a fresh perspective on the links between past and present oil crises, financial crises, and geopolitical conflicts that keep bringing the world to the brink of economic catastrophe. The book by Mahmoud El Gamal, chair of Islamic Economics, Finance and Management and professor of Economics & Statistics, Rice University, and Amy Jaffe, Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, was released January 2010 from Cambridge University Press.
"Understanding and Addressing Suicide Attacks: The Faith and Politics of Martyrdom Operations" by David Cook, associate professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, and Olivia Allison examines the underlying religious and historical basis for Muslim suicide attacks, and offers recommendations for dealing with them when and where they occur. The research, published in May 2007 by Praeger Security Press, was supported by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and the Smith-Richardson Foundation. The results were presented at the Baker Institute and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Partnering with Stanford University’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, the Energy Forum investigated the geopolitical consequences of the increasing global dependence on natural gas. In June 2006, Cambridge University Press published a book volume based on this study, "Natural Gas and Geopolitics from 1970 to 2040."
In 2002, Palgrave published the first book arising from Energy Forum studies, Energy in the Caspian Region: Present and Future, which, through a partnership with the Centre for Euro-Asian Studies at University of Reading, updated the Baker Institute’s comprehensive 1998 study on the political, economic, and cultural factors influencing energy development in central Asia and the Caucasus.
In May, 2003, the Energy Forum, in conjunction with the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, and the Environmental and Energy Systems Institute began a major initiative on the role nanotechnology will play in the development of clean, affordable energy, whose supply is sustainable and universally available. This nano and energy program has recently focused on the science and policy related to solar energy, electricity storage and transmission, and oil and gas drilling technologies. In 2006, the Energy Forum also initiated a science and policy program on the potential of biofuels.
Prior to the U.S. military campaign in Iraq, the Baker Institute, together with the Council on Foreign Relations, published an independent working group report on Guiding Principles for U.S. Post-Conflict Policy in Iraq, covering the issues and challenges related to the country’s reconstruction, including a detailed discussion of Iraq’s energy capabilities and prospects. In 2001, the Baker Institute also sponsored, again with the Council On Foreign Relations, a task force on U.S. strategic energy policy. The bi-partisan task force, which comprised 52 prominent Americans from government, industry, and academia, published a major study, Strategic Energy Policy: Challenges for the 21st Century, which offered 110 recommendations to the Cheney task force and U.S. Congress regarding steps to build a comprehensive energy policy and national consensus.