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Interdisciplinary Experiences

Energy 231: Energy and the Environment

Instructor: Dr. Lincoln Pratson

Dates: August 2016 – December 2016

Hours: 6 hours/week · 15 weeks = 90 hours

In this Energy class cross-listed in Environmental Science and Earth & Ocean Sciences, students learned about energy production, transmission, and consumption. We focused on a few major areas including the oil and gas industry, renewables, and finally national and international policies and economics. This class covered fields ranging from technical discussions of electricity & magnetism, thermodynamics, and semiconductors to national energy policies such as renewable portfolio standards to international climate agreements.

Synopsis: “Overview of the challenges confronting humanity as a consequence of our reliance on energy. Challenges include dwindling supplies, rising demand and environmental degradation. Realistic responses require an understanding of the complexity of the energy system, including energy resources, uses, and impacts, in the context of social, political and economic imperatives. Lectures will be augmented by presentations from guest speakers from industry, government and non-profit organizations.”

This class directly related to my GCS focus as it talked about solar energy at length. We went into detail about how solar photovoltaics work and also discussed the potential of concentrated solar thermal power plants. We went into detail about the energy markets and policy, and how many states renewable portfolio standards, which will help decreases the costs and increase the adoption of solar energy in the future.

 

History 250: Green Germany – World Leader in Environmental Policy

Instructor: Dr. Kristen Dolan

Dates: January 2016 – May 2016

Hours: 6 hours/week · 15 weeks = 90 hours

In this History class cross-listed in Environmental Science, Energy, and German, students learned about the environmental policy history of Germany, from the 1900s to the modern era.

Synopsis: “Exploration of Germany’s leading global role in developing and implementing “green” technologies and environmental policies. Analyzes Germany’s current and past policies on energy, agriculture, and pollution control. Examines polices in context by studying German ideas about nature, history of German environmentalism, and by looking at Green Germany in European and global perspective. Discusses extent ethics can or ought to influence debates about global climate change and its ramifications. Readings include scholarly studies, exemplary policies, and groundbreaking ecological texts.”

This relates to my GCS focus of making solar energy economical as Germany is one of the leaders in adopting solar energy, even though they don’t receive much sunlight compared to other countries. Their policies and progressive mentality to move away from fossil fuels is rooted in historical context, which makes their case especially interesting. There is a lot the U.S. can learn from Germany’s example.

 

Economics 101: Economic Principles

Instructor: Dr. Connel Fullenkamp

Dates: August 2015 – December 2015

Hours: 6 hours/week · 15 weeks = 90 hours

Basic microeconomic concepts such as demand and supply, market structures and pricing, market efficiency and equilibrium. Macroeconomic concepts such as inflation, unemployment, trade, economic growth and development. Different perspectives on issues of monetary and fiscal policy. Emphasis on public policy issues and the logic behind the economic way of thinking.

A particular focus on the energy industry was provided through case studies of foreign influences on the solar panel market, as well as how subsidies can promote production. Also related was a discussion of the oil and gas market, specifically how a surplus of oil exports in the Middle Eastern drive down prices.