Energy is the number one contributor to climate change and has significant consequences for our society, political system, economy, and environment. Energy is also a fundamental driver of human development and opportunity. In taking this course, students will not only understand the fundamentals of each energy resource – including significance and potential, conversion processes and technologies, drivers and barriers, policy and regulation, and social, economic, and environmental impacts – students will also be able to put this in the context of the broader energy system. Both depletable and renewable energy resources are covered, including oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, biomass and biofuel, hydroelectric, wind, solar thermal and photovoltaics (PV), geothermal, and ocean energy, with cross-cutting topics including electricity, storage, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), sustainability, green buildings, energy efficiency, transportation, and the developing world. The 4 unit course includes lecture and in-class discussion, readings and videos, homework assignments, one on-campus field trip during lecture time and two off-campus field trips with brief report assignments. Off-campus field trips to wind farms, solar farms, nuclear power plants, natural gas power plants, hydroelectric dams, etc. Enroll for 5 units to also attend the Workshop, an interactive discussion section on cross-cutting topics that meets once per week for 80 minutes (Mondays, 12:30 PM – 1:50 PM). Open to all: pre-majors and majors, with any background!
Understand Energy: Essentials is a shorter (3 unit) version of this course, offered summer quarter. Students should not take both for credit. Prerequisites: Algebra.
Instructors: Gragg, Diana; Woodward, Jane; Stasio, Kirsten