Content varies from quarter to quarter.
Modern life would be impossible without oil. Not only does this one resource provide fuels for every mode of transport, it is the origin for an infinite universe of fundamental goods, from computers and clothes to fertilizer and medicine. At present, petroleum is the one fuel without any real alternatives and the most highly traded commodity on Earth. No modern military can exist without it; a shrinking number of nations possess it. The “haves” are largely in unstable regions, the “have nots” in advanced and emergent economies. For these reasons, there is no such thing as energy security apart from oil. Understanding the contemporary world requires a familiarity with the global petroleum system and its geopolitics.
Student learning goals
nature of petroleum and distribution of reserves, as well as centers of global demand and related forecasts for the next several decades
the global oil industry, its history, development, and basic economics, as well as the role of technology
patterns of conflict and cooperation in oil geopolitics, including the history and position of OPEC and the role of Russia
specific energy relations involving East Asia and the Persian Gulf; U.S. and Saudi Arabia; China, Europe and the Middle East
petroleum and climate change
the current oil boom in the U.S., based on shale oil and fracking, and its implications for other nations
General method of instruction
Some familiarity with global politics
Class assignments and grading
Short papers, quizzes, weekly postings on required readings, class projects, final research presentation.