Energy Literacy (3 cr.

Syllabus for proposed course for Spring 2012 Instructor: Dr. Eric Garza Email: Time and location: TBD Class website: TBD Course Description Energy Literacy will offer students a mildly technical background in energy systems, including an understanding of energy as a physical phenomenon, energy resources and technologies, and energy metabolisms of natural and manmade ecosystems. The objective of the course is to develop students' proficiencies in critical thinking, dimensional analysis, problem solving, the basic technical elements of energy resources and their conversion into energy services, and an understanding of the importance of energy throughput to natural and man-made ecological systems. Class sessions will include a mixture of lecture, discussion and other pedagogical approaches. This course will not train students to compete with engineers for coveted energy sector jobs necessarily, but is designed to offer students the background in energy systems so that, with additional coursework and/or experience, students can compete favorably for energy sector jobs and internships. The course will also offer students a general sense of energy literacy. Grading Homework assignments (25%) Class projects (30%) Midterm and final exams (25%) Class reflections (15%) Class participation (5%) Course Readings Required text: Vaclav Smil’s Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems (MIT Press, 2008). Additional readings will be assigned from the following list: I. Bashmakov. 2007. Three laws of energy transitions. Energy Policy. 35: 3583-3594. C.J. Campbell. 2002. Petroleum and people. Population & Environment. 24: 193-207. P. Canning, et al. 2010. Energy Use in the U.S. Food System. United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. I. Dincer. 1999. Environmental impacts of energy. Energy Policy. 14: 845-854. I. Dincer. 2000. Thermodynamics, exergy and environmental impact. Energy Sources. 22: 723-732. R.C. Duncan. 1993. The life-expectancy of industrial civilization: the decline to global equilibrium. Population and Environment. 14: 325-357. R.C. Duncan. 2001. World energy production, population growth, and the road to the Olduvai Gorge. Population and Environment. 22: 503-522.

D.L. Greene, et al. 2006. Have we run out of oil yet? Oil peaking analysis from an optimist's perspective. Energy Policy. 34: 515-531. C.A.S. Hall, et al. 1992. The distribution and abundance of organisms as a consequence of energy balances along multiple environmental gradients. Oikos. 65: 377-390. C.A.S. Hall, et al. 2003. Hydrocarbons and the evolution of human culture. Nature. 426: 318322. K. Mulder and N.J. Hagens. 2008. Energy return on investment: toward a consistent framework. Ambio. 37: 74-79. D. Murphy and C.A.S. Hall. 2010. Year in review - EROI or energy return on (energy) invested. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1185: 102-118. V. Smil. 2006. Peak Oil: a catastrophist cult and complex realities. World Watch. 19: 22-24. J.A. Tainter, et al. 2003. Resource transitions and energy gain: contexts of organization. Conservation Ecology. 7: 4 [online]. G.C. Unruh. 2000. Understanding carbon lock-in. Energy Policy. 28: 817-830. Homework Assignments Homework assignments will consist of a mixture of problem sets and case studies specific to our topical area of energy in nature and society. Problem sets will typically be quantitative, and involve solving short story problems. Case studies will be require both qualitative and quantitative analysis, and will revolve around a list of questions dealing with a single, more lengthy and detailed situation. All assignments can be done in groups of up to three students. Groups should turn in a single assignment with the names of all participating students on it, rather than turning in three identical assignments. Class Project Groups of students will choose individual states within the United States (or other countries, if enough students are interested and adequate data is available) to study energy in greater detail. Students will gather data on current and past energy consumption in the states, and will also gather data on energy production, imports and exports, and energy resource reserves. Exams This class will have two exams, one mid term and one final. Exams will be done in-class, and will be open notes and open book. Students may not collaborate on their exams, and any attempt to do so will be considered cheating and will end in the student's forfeiture of their exam and a grade of zero. Letter writing Students will be expected to write at least one letter to a political figure at either the local, state or federal level outlining their views on an energy-relevant topic. Course Policies In keeping with University policy, any student with a disability who needs academic/classroom accommodations should contact ACCESS. ACCESS coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. They are located at A170 Living/Learning Center, and can be reached by phone at 802-656-7753, or by emailing Visit their website at

All students are expected to adhere to the University’s Code of Academic Integrity, which is outlined here: Details on what constitutes plagiarism, as well as the consequences of plagiarism, are detailed in the Code of Academic Integrity. Students are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Code of Student’s Rights and Responsibilities, which can be found here: Finally, students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. All students who intend to miss class due to observance of religious holidays must submit in writing their documented religious holiday schedule to the instructor by the end of the second full week of classes. The instructor will permit students to make up any work missed due to observance of a documented religious holiday. Course Calendar Week 1: Energy basics—concepts, variables, units, dimensional analysis. Assignment one given. Week 2: Planetary energetics—atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere. Project discussion, group assignments Week 3: Energy return on energy invested and net energy. Assignment one due, assignment two given. Week 4: Photosynthesis and heterotrophic conversions—consumer bioenergetics. Week 5: Human energetics—people as simple heterotrophs. Assignment two due, assignment three given, project proposal due. Week 6: Agriculture—humans as solar farmers. Week 7: Prime movers and fuels in traditional societies. Assignment three due, midterm exam given. Week 8: Fossil fuels—heat, light, and prime movers. Assignment four given, project outline due. Week 9: Fossil-fueled civilization—patterns and trends. Week 10: Energy costs—valuations, changes and environmental consequences. Assignment four due, assignment five given. Week 11: Environmental consequences—metabolism of fossil-fueled civilization. Week 12: Energy correlates—complexities of a high-energy civilization. Assignment five due, assignment six given, project drafts accepted. Week 13: Grand patterns—energetic and other essentials.

Week 14: Fundamental principles of energy systems—take home points for this class. Assignment six due. Week 15: The future of fossil-fueled civilization, semester review. Project due. Week 16: Final exam (see schedule on web site)

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