ENST 399 - Energy transitions (Spring 2018) Course description Recognizing that climate change driven by the burning of fossil fuels is inspiring a lower carbon future, students learn about the transition underway to renewable energy, conservation, and smart efficiency. We also examine the technological and social forces that drive energy transitions and evaluate their disruptive and positive consequences.
Classes at Western Washington University (2014-2016)
Energy policy The goal of this course is to acquaint you with energy technologies and the policies and politics that shape the energy systems of today and tomorrow. We will learn the vocabulary needed to have policy discussions of energy and energy technologies. In the sectors of transportation and machinery, building heating and cooling, and electricity generation we will investigate emerging technologies, their operations, risks, and performance. We will scrutinize the policy dimensions of these technologies, asking: What are the factors that shape appropriate use of the technology? What can be done to adequately manage risks and realize benefits? Students will learn the basics of how energy technologies operate and how policy is developed and implemented.
Energy systems transitions This course explores the social and technological changes underway to transition from a fossil fuel based energy system to a low-carbon system. We study the technology involved with existing and evolving electricity, transportation, food, and building energy systems. We then interrogate case studies to reveal the technological, political-economic, epistemological, and cultural forces that substantiate the existing system or promote change to a low carbon future. During the term we highlight the tensions that exist between decentralized vs. centralized systems, locked-in vs. flexible technologies, and natural vs. planned transitions.
Advanced energy policy In this course we explore U.S. energy policy making. We assume a basic knowledge of the policymaking process, energy use and technologies, and energy policy issues. We will trace the history of US energy policy and examine the challenges to contemporary policy. Using case studies we will reveal the multidimensionality and tensions implicit in policy debates.
Community solutions to climate change Climate change is without doubt one of the most serious challenges facing society today. The problem has been amplified by 30 years of governmental inaction. Increasingly, communities across the United States and Canada are reaching the conclusion that they need to act on their own to prepare for the inevitably rising seas, increasing storms, changing patterns of precipitation, heat, ecosystem change, and threats to public health. This course explores current research and practice of North American communities preparing for climate change. We examine the likely impacts of climate change and examine, in-depth, case studies of communities on the front lines of climate adaptation and mitigation.