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John O. Blackburn, Professor Emeritus

Please note: John has left the "Economics" group at Duke University; some info here might not be up to date.

John O. Blackburn is Professor Emeritus at Duke University and former chair of the university’s economics department. He was originally a part of Duke’s faculty from 1959-1980, during which time he served as University Distinguished Service Professor. Between the years 1961-1962, he interrupted his stint at Duke to pursue a position at the American University of Beirut. Between 1970-1971, he was Duke University Provost, and between 1971-1976, he was Duke University Chancellor. He completed his B.A. at Duke, and, before returning to become a professor, served in the U.S. Navy from 1952-1956. He completed his Ph.D. in economics in 1959 at the University of Florida. Dr. Blackburn’s research and teaching has revolved around the subjects of energy, economics, energy and economic development, energy conservation and policy, and renewable energy. His works have been published in a number of prestigious academic journals and have been cited and reviewed by several of his contemporaries. Not only is Dr. Blackburn dedicated to his research, he is also committed to completing the demands of a teacher to the best of his ability. One of his former students, Jeffrey R. Heist, refers to Dr. Blackburn as a “captivating educator who demands the best from his students.” Heist also heralded Dr. Blackburn’s motto of “Keep Smiling” as a key motivator for Heist’s own success as a student. Although he is now retired, Dr. Blackburn still remains active in the professional community. He has since published two books, The Renewable Energy Alternative in 1986 and Solar Florida in 1993. He has also conducted recent research pertaining to “sustainable economy features,” which involved “quantifying the effects on materials and energy flows of steps toward sustainability.” He is also exploring incentives and disincentives in relation to economic issues, such as annual costs of driving. He recently applied his ideas when he spoke to Duke University about suggestions for adapting their power use to fit “the changing energy and regulation environment.” Dr. Blackburn has been a member of the board for USFUVG since 1992. Since his retirement, he continues to serve as an expert witness for environmental groups, offering his personal testimony for various utility cases. He recently served as an expert witness for the N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network. His position advocates efforts toward energy conservation and renewable energy, with the hopes of decreasing electricity demands.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  Social Sciences Building
Email Address: send me a message

Research Interests:

Professor Blackburn’s research revolved around the pursuit of knowledge concerning energy conservation, renewable energy, energy policy, and energy in relation to economic development. He is renowned for his study concerning Progress Energy and Duke Energy that suggested how a change in energy usage could help conserve and regulate the environment, while avoiding the necessity for building new plants. He collaborated with E. Roy Weintraub to construct demand forecasts for electricity, which they utilized during hearings before the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission. Dr. Blackburn has since published two books entitled, The Renewable Energy Alternative and Solar Florida. After retiring from his professorship at Duke, Dr. Blackburn became involved with NGOs in Florida that were engaged in the environmental field. Today, he continues to explore sustainable economy features, quantifying “the effects on materials and energy flows of steps toward sustainability.” These studies involve the analysis of population growth, durability, waste reduction, recycling, and other such factors. He is also currently pursuing research that investigates economic incentives and disincentives

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