Consent-Based Nuclear Siting Narratives

Three people working together around a table, two standing, one seated. They are looking at a paper timeline on the tabletop.

Managing nuclear waste safely and responsibly is essential for societies that plan to continue to rely on nuclear power as a source of low-carbon energy. However, this has proven to be a contentious issue, both in the United States and globally: where should this waste be sited, and who ends up living near it? What effects do waste storage facilities have on human communities, but also on landscapes and ecosystems?

Arizona State University is one of 13 recipients of grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore community-centered approaches to storing and disposing spent nuclear fuel. The Consortium on Community Engagement, Innovation, and Learning on Consent-Based Siting in Arizona (CCEIL-AZ) involves partnerships with SciStarter and the Museum of Science, Boston, and with community partners throughout Arizona.

The goals of consent-based siting processes are to invite broad participation, center equity and environmental justice, and reach decisions based on inclusive discussions about community well-being and community needs. The CCEIL-AZ project will not pursue securing consent for siting waste, but instead will create and assess methods for public engagement, citizen assessment, and diverse community participation that may be used in future consent-based siting efforts.

As part of this project, the Center for Science and the Imagination is collaborating with ASU’s Center for Energy and Society to create a book of science fiction narratives, essays by subject-area experts, and visual art. These visions of the future, paired with expert commentary, will explore possibilities for communities that enter into consent-based siting processes and consider how the process of communally deliberating about consent, and the potential construction and operation of a long-term nuclear storage facility, might connect with the community’s aspirations, values, and internal complexities. We started collaborating on the book with our fiction authors, essayists, and other project contributors at a narrative development workshop hosted at ASU in February 2024.

The book, along with accompanying materials for facilitating conversations, will be designed to expand people’s imaginations about the challenges and opportunities posed by consent-based siting efforts, and to provide insights that could be useful for participants in community forums about consent-based siting of nuclear waste. We also hope that it will be useful for science and technology policy scholars and practitioners, environmental educators and advocates, and members of communities considering a wide range of issues at the intersection of energy systems, environmental justice, and community futures, not just limited to the nuclear sector. 

Our book of fiction, nonfiction, and art will be available free and open-access in a variety of digital formats in late summer 2024.

This project is being funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). DOE’s Consent-based Siting for Interim Storage Program: DE-FOA-0002575.


Fiction Authors

Andrew Dana Hudson is a speculative fiction writer, sustainability researcher, and futurist. He is the author of Our Shared Storm: A Novel of Five Climate Futures, and his short fiction has appeared in Slate, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, MIT Technology Review, Grist, and more. He holds a master’s degree in Sustainability from Arizona State University, where he is now pursuing a master’s in fine arts in Creative Writing. 

Justina Ireland is the author of novels including Ophie’s Ghosts, winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction; Dread Nation, winner of the Locus Award; and Deathless Divide, a Locus Award nominee. She has written several novels in the Star Wars universe for Disney Lucasfilm Press, and is one of the story architects of Star Wars: The High Republic. She is the former editor-in-chief of FIYAH, an award-winning literary magazine of Black speculative fiction.

Carter Meland is a speculative fiction author, poet, and associate professor in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is the author of the novel Stories for a Lost Child, a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. His writing has appeared in the journals Studies in American Indian Literatures and Yellow Medicine Review and the books Seeing Red: Hollywood’s Pixelated Skins and Enduring Critical Poses: The Legacy and Life of Anishinaabe Literature and Letters

Sarena Ulibarri is a speculative fiction author, editor, and anthologist. Her short stories have appeared in Lightspeed, DreamForge, and Solarpunk Magazine, and essays in Strange Horizons and Grist. In 2023, she published two novellas, Another Life and Steel Tree. She is the editor-in-chief at World Weaver Press, where she has curated and published several international volumes of optimistic climate fiction, including Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers and Multispecies Cities: Solarpunk Urban Futures.


Deanna Chaney is a student at Arizona State University’s Barrett, the Honors College. She is pursuing a degree in Sustainability, with a minor in Project Management. In her research, she studies sustainable energy systems, with a particular focus on incorporating resource circularity.

Nicole Cox is a senior coordinator at Arizona State University’s Decision Theater, where her work focuses on grant-writing for federal, state, charitable, and industry partnerships. She holds a master’s degree in Global Technology and Development and is pursuing a doctorate in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University

Alycia de Mesa is a doctoral candidate in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, where she is also a senior global futures scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. She serves as Indigenous education specialist for the Firekeepers Initiative (funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation) at the Labriola National American Indian Data Center. 

Myrriah Gómez is an associate professor in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico and a member of the research faculty at the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute. Her book Nuclear Nuevo México examines the effects of settler colonialism and the nuclear-industrial complex in New Mexico.

Nafeesa Irshad is pursuing a doctorate in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University. She holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences from Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, along with masters coursework in Energy Systems Engineering from the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan. She studies the challenges of energy transitions and decarbonization for small businesses.

Krzysztof Janas is a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Warsaw, and a visiting scholar at Arizona State University. His research interests include the social aspects of architecture and how cities and environments adapt in the context of sustainable development and climate change. 

Christopher F. Jones is an associate professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. As a historian of energy, environment, and economics, he studies topics including energy transitions, infrastructure, fossil-fuel dependence, sustainability, and economic growth. His book Routes of Power examines the United States’ energy transitions to coal, oil, and electricity from 1820 to 1930.

Lauren Withycombe Keeler is an assistant research professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, where she is also a senior global futures scientist at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. She studies how different people with diverse professional responsibilities understand and make sense of the future, and how futures are created through professional practice.

Allison M. Macfarlane is professor and director of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. She formerly directed the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University. From 2012-2014, she chaired the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the first geologist and first woman to serve in that role, and from 2010-2012, she served on the White House Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. 

Ian Rowlands is a professor in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. In his research, he investigates issues related to sustainable energy, focusing upon politics, strategies, behavior, actors, regimes, and institutions at multiple levels, from the household to the global scale. 


Dwayne Manuel, hailing from the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, found his artistic calling through drawing, influenced by his mother, a skilled O’odham basket weaver. After earning a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, he pursued an MFA at the University of Arizona. Now, he teaches painting and drawing while exhibiting his work at esteemed venues like The Heard Museum and collaborating with brands like Nike.

Facilitation Guide Designers

Phillip Garcia is a digital graphic designer at Experience Scottsdale, as well as a designer and builder of custom furniture pieces. He graduated with a degree in Visual Communication Design at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. 

Annie Holub has 20 years of teaching experience spanning multiple grade levels, from sixth grade to college. For the last ten years, she has been teaching English at City High School in downtown Tucson, a small public charter school focused on place-based learning, and has taught recently at Pima Community College and ASU Prep Digital. Alongside her teaching career, Annie has worked as a journalist, writing for the Tucson Weekly and Tucson Sentinel, as well as other national publications.

Project Team

Joey Eschrich is the managing editor at Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, and assistant director of Future Tense, a partnership of ASU and New America that explores emerging technologies, policy, and society. He has edited books of science fiction and nonfiction with partners and funders including NASA, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the MIT Press, and Columbia University Press. 

Clark A. Miller is a professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and director of the Center for Energy and Society at Arizona State University. A theorist and designer of techno-human futures and energy systems, he has recently published several books focused on the social drivers, dynamics, and consequences of energy system change and the imagination and construction of human-centered global energy futures.

Jennifer Richter is an assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She is also a senior global futures scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory. She studies how policies that govern innovations and research are created and then taken up by local populations, especially in the American West. Her research focuses particularly on energy justice, specifically related to the cultural, social, and environmental issues that come with larger energy transitions. She coedited the book Environmental Realism: Challenging Solutions (2017) and contributed a chapter to the book Resisting the Nuclear: Art and Activism across the Pacific (2024).

Ruth Wylie is the assistant director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an associate research professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her research areas include science and engineering ethics, educational technologies, and fostering and assessing human imagination. She leads the Arizona STEM Acceleration Project to develop a robust science, technology, and engineering education ecosystem across the state of Arizona.