*Freshman Seminar 27K. Energy: Be the Change

In the US, energy use creates large political and social tensions and  much emphasis is placed on climate change.  In China, health issues surrounding energy use are emerging as a critical issue. Importantly, there are many areas where the role of energy is often overlooked.  A large fraction of current geopolitical tensions arise from issues originating in energy consumption, and that fraction may increase as water use and energy use become more closely tied. Too many discussions of energy focus on one feature of the problem, without considering how a change in one area will inevitably ripple out with the power to transform our relationships with each other and with the physical world.  Some of those ripple effects are enormously positive, others are not. The goal of the course will be to choose energy changes that we would like to happen and to form a realistic plan for making that change occur.  An important feature of the discussion will be considerations about what is physically possible; however, the major emphasis will be on trying to understand the connections that will be altered  by that change.  Any change, however laudable, inevitably creates both winners and losers. For change to happen, losers must at least be brought to accept the change. One goal of the course will be to establish local and global forums that allow us to learn more about people’s reactions to proposals for energy change so that our proposals for change have a real possibility of coming to pass.

Notes:  Open to Freshman students only.


Mary Prentiss







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  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2018-2019 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

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Center for the Environment

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Phone: (617) 495-0368

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