Energy and Modern Society
420 / STS 420 / SOC
Fall 2009, TR 9:45-11:00
a.m., 104 Chambers
The principal objective of this course is to
deepen awareness of issues related to energy conversion and its
environmental and social consequences. Students from different
disciplines will discuss
demand in a science/technology/society
context, considering environmental impact, human values, economics, and
future prospects of sustainability. Different views on social
history of energy use will be reviewed to provide a perspective of
society and energy futures.
Student Involvement in
expected to lead and participate in class discussion. Reading the
is a prerequisite to a good contribution in class. Attendance is required. The
grades for teamwork will depend on each individual's performance and
in the project. Students have the option of forming their
(two or three students in each team) to
lead discussion on topics listed in the course outline. All the teams
topics will be finalized by September 8, 2009. Being in a team
is not required, but strongly encouraged. Students who choose to
work alone are expected to work harder.
V. Smil, "Energy," Oneworld, Oxford, England, 2006.
J. M. Dukert, "Energy," Greeenwood Guides to Business and Economics,
Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut; London, 2009.
V. V. Vaitheeswaran, "Power to the People," Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New
Selected readings from following publications will
be provided as pdf, or other electronic media:
M. E. Eberhart, "Feeding
the Fire: The Lost History and Uncertain Future of Mankind's Energy
Addiction," Harmony Books, New York, 2007.
L. R. Brown, "Plan B 2.0: J. Peet,
"Energy and Ecological Economics of
Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1992.
The Eleventh Hour
The Inconvenient Truth
Scientific American, Special Issue "Energy's Future," Vol. 295, No.3, September
C. Morris, "Energy
J. Farley, J. Erickson, H. E. Daly, "Ecological Economics: A Workbook for
Problem-Based Learning," 2005
B. J. Hanson, "Energy
Power Shift," 2004.
E. S. Cassedy and P. Z. Grossman, "Introduction to Energy," 1998.
J. Gever, R. Kaufmann, D. Skole, C.
Vörösmarty, "Beyond Oil,"
D. Yergin, "The
Automobile: Looking Back into the History of Our Desires," 1992.
J. J. Kraushaar and R. A. Ristinen, "Energy and Problems of a Technical Society,"
Scientific American, Special Issue "Energy for Planet Earth," Vol.
263, No.3, September 1990.
An Initial Essay
long) to briefly describe what you expect to (or would like to)
in this course. Tuesday, September 1.
on a topic/reading material assigned to the team.
points, or presentation will be posted on the Discussion Board
24 h before the class scheduled for the team topic.
Four Readiness Assessment
15-minute quizzes to include questions on the reading assignments
and/or discussion in previous
classes. RATs will usually be open-book, open-notes tests. Material posted on the Discussion
Board could make good
your presentation/discussion topic, or any other energy topic you would
like to write
about. Due by November 20.
Participation (in class, or on-line):
Ask, or answer questions, or provide substantive comments in class, or on the Discussion Board.
A Final Essay
two-page long) to reflect on what you have learned in this course with
reference to your initial essay. Due by December 10.
Initial Essay: 5%; Class
20%; Semester Paper: 20%; RATS: 40% (10% each), Final Essay: 5%;
Participation (in class, or on-line):10%.
Course Outline and Assignments
August 25: Introduction to the course; Energy views and STS
Themes; Energy supply in the world and in the U.S. - http://www.eia.doe.gov/basics/energybasics101.html
Assignment: Write a
one-page essay on what you expect to learn in this course.
Due on September 1; submit to
ANGEL dropbox by 11:59 p.m. (5% of the course grade)
Energy in Nature and Society
August 27: Energy: Definitions, General Concepts and Measures -
Smil: 1-21; Peet: pp. 3-15 (pdf)
September 1: Energy in Nature, Energy Flows - Smil: 22 -53;
Peet: pp. 3-15 (pdf)
September 3: Energy in Human History - Smil: 54-83
September 8: Lighting the Fire of Fossil Fuels - Smil: 85-120
September 10: The Energy Dilemma: The Inconvenient Truth at The
Eleventh Hour - Smil: 120-126; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/portal/climate_change/default.stm
September 15: Energy Now and in the Future - Smil: 133-176
Energy and Economy
September 17: Energy in the Balance - Dukert: 1-23 (Team 1)
September 22: How Much is Enough? Dukert: 24-48 (Team 2)
September 24: How Much Does It Cost- Dukert: 49-79 (Team 3)
October 1: Reliability of Supply - Dukert: 80-110;
Peet: 192-218 (pdf) (Team 4)
October 6: Environmental Factors- Dukert: 111-141; Peet:
219-234 (pdf) (Team
October 8: Time, the Often Overlooked Factor - Dukert:
142-165 (Team 6)
October 13: National Energy Policy and Its Economic Implications
- Dukert: 166-183 (Team
October 15: Looking Ahead to "Sustainable Development" -
Dukert: 166-183; Peet: 235-254 (pdf); Göncüoğlu (pdf) (Team 8)
October 20: Guest Speakers: Dr. Gene Bazan and Dr. Tania Slawecki - Thinking
Our Way Out of the Energy Crisis 1
October 22: Guest
Speakers: Dr. Gene Bazan and Dr. Tania
Slawecki - Thinking Our Way Out of the Energy Crisis 2
A Different View Point, A Coming
October 27: Introduction: The Coming Energy Revolution and
Micropower - Vaitheeswaran: 3-45 (Team 9)
October 29: Enron
vs. Exxon/Electricity Deregulation and California Experience - Vaitheeswaran: 46-93 (Team10)
November 3: Oil Addiction and Global Warming - Vaitheeswaran: 94-160; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6532323.stm
November 5: Air Pollution & Rachel Carson vs Adam
Smith- Vaitheeswaran: 161-219 (Team 12)
November 10: Hydrogen Economy and Fuel Cells - Vaitheeswaran: 223-260; http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/
November 12: A Renaissance for Nuclear Power?/Micropower Meets
Village Power- Vaitheeswaran: 274-315 (Team 14)
November 17: Energy Future -
Vaitheeswaran: 317-327; Smil: 156 -176 (Team 15)
Renewable Energy Alternatives
November 19: Renewable Energy Technologies 1 (Introduction and Biomass Power) - http://www.nrel.gov/learning/
November 24 & 26: Thanksgiving
December 1: Renewable Energy Technologies 2 (Solar Power) http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_solar.html;
http://www.ases.org/ (Team 17)
December 3: Renewable Energy Technologies 3 (Wind Power) http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_wind.html;
Websites for Energy Savings in All Sectors - http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/efficiency/energy_savings.htm
December 8 : Residential and Commercial Energy
Conservation - http://hes.lbl.gov/; http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/
December 10: Transportation Energy Conservation- http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/why.shtml;
Final essay due by 11.59 p.m on December 10
Your team presentation/leading discussion should
the main ideas/points in the assigned reading material to focus one, or
more of the following four categories
1) A Brief Historical Account
2) Technological Aspects
3) Social Aspects
4) Environmental Aspects
Presentations should not take more than 20
minutes, discussion could take the rest of the class period. Every
group member must
deliver a part of the presentation, or actively lead discussion on the
Discussion leaders are responsible to make sure that the conversation
does not go off track. The instructor will intervene, if
necessary, to focus the class discussion.
Grading of Presentations
Grading of the presentations/discussion leadership
will be based on:
1) Relevance and depth of the presented material in
context; incorporation of supplementary material from the literature
2) Clarity of the presentation and visual
aids/effectiveness in leading discussion
4) Responses to questions and comments during
5) Confidential participation grades you will
each partner in the team to make sure that everybody shares the
Your semester paper should provide a critical
of an energy related topic in a science/technology/society context
the main STS themes such as wholism/reductionism, benefits/costs,
and citizenship/idiotship. You should conduct a good library search to
locate and read relevant references before writing your paper. Try to
on your personal experiences and prior knowledge as much as possible in
your paper. Carefully proofread your paper to make sure that you don't
have any grammatical or spelling errors. Below is more information on
You can write a paper on your group presentation
or any other subject relevant to energy use in society. Please get
before you proceed if you would like to choose a topic that is not
in the course syllabus.
Length and Format of the Paper
Typically, I expect 6-8 pages of double-spaced text
contain the following sections:
Grading of the Paper
- Discussion of STS Issues
Introduce why the topic is
important for energy use
a modern society and state the objective(s) of your paper.
Based on your literature review, personal
and prior knowledge on the subject, discuss the current STS issues
to your topic to address the main concerns about current and future
use (e.g., resource limits, environmental impact, social consequences,
economics, sustainability, etc.)
Summarize your findings and thoughts.
Cite your references properly using a consistent
throughout. I would like to see at least 10 references other than the
and other supplementary books listed for this course. Obviously, I am
to encourage library research.
I will grade your paper based on the relevance,
and integrity of the information, and the quality of discussion offered
in an STS context.
STS Context: 20%
Expectations: Honesty, integrity,
timeliness, regular attendance, participation, and hard work - keys to
professionalism and success.
This course adopts the Academic Integrity Policy of
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences that can be found at http://www.ems.psu.edu/students/integrity/statement.html
Any breach of academic integrity will be handled
to the procedures outlined in the College's policy.
If a student feels that his or her academic freedom has been
violated, "Resolution of Student Classroom Problems" Senate Policy
20-00 should be consulted and followed.
Students can then follow the procedures listed in R-6: "Classroom
Freedom Conference and Mediation"
F: less than 50