Discusses energy production, distribution, and consumption in modern society. Topics include basic scientific, technological, economic, political and environmental issues and questions raised by the utilization of traditional and alternative energy sources.
The major goal of this course will be to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the relationships among patterns of energy use, availability of resources, technological development, economic structure and development, environmental issues, and political concerns.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
I impart knowledge through multiple routes. My lectures focus on theoretical and conceptual issues as well as on their policy implications. I use simulation games to illustrate both theoretical issues as well as the use of policy instruments. Rather than passively studying the presented material, my students take an active role in the learning process. They engage in research projects on topics close to their interests. I require that my students regularly write me memos in which they reflect on and critique the required readings. I provide regular feedback on these memos and incorporate them in our in-class discussions.
This will be an interdisciplinary course, drawing on basic knowledge of chemistry, economics, engineering, physics, political science, psychology, public policy, sociology, and possibly other disciplines. It is obvious that we cannot master all of these disciplines in order to participate in the debate on energy policy. It is necessary, however, to be able to identify the basic questions across disciplines and to develop an approach for finding answers to these questions.
Class assignments and grading
Student assignments are designed to accomplish two goals. First, the assignments provide an opportunity for students to take an active role in the learning process. Students regularly write me memos critiquing the assigned readings and they engage in their own research projects that they present to the class and summarize in a short paper. Second, to engage in a debate on energy, environment, and society, we need to be familiar with some of the most important data in these areas. To ensure this, I administer two short, in class tests.
Grades are assigned based on all assignments: policy memos, two tests, and on research project. The percentage of the grade based on each assignment varies across quarters.