The quest for a sustainable energy future involves balancing a series of oftentimes competing goals.
On the one hand, continued population growth, combined with increased energy consumption by citizens
in ever-richer developing countries, require energy production to keep pace with growth in demand. Access to cheap energy has fueled the economic development of the richest countries, and there is widespread concern that any increases in energy prices will undermine the global and national econimic recovery. At the same time, the scientific consensus on climate change is now clear: carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion are altering Earth's climate. The search for affordable, low-carbon, and renewable energies to fuel 21st century economies has become a local, national, and international priority. The energy landscape is currently in rapid flux, with the production of cheap, abundant natural gas providing unique challenges and opportunities that will determine the course of energy infrastructure development, and therefore carbon dioxide emissions, for the next decades.
This interdisciplinary seminar-style course relies on guest speakers from across the Tech campus and beyond, encouraging lively discussion of both current events and past developments relevant to our nation's energy and climate future. The main student activity will be a semester-long "Carbon Reduction Challenge", in which student teams compete to reduce carbon footprints by the end of the semester.