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Prospectus

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Energy, Environment, and Sustainability

Course
2012-2013

Tag(s)

[BSc]
S, ID, GC

Admission Requirements

Students are required to have completed Earth Systems Science and either Quantitative Research Methods or Mathematical Modelling.

Description

Energy is a global concern and its extraction and use has varied consequences to Earth’s environmental systems. The decisions that societies make concerning energy sources has local and global implications to future generations. Conventional fossil fuel energy sources have an extensive legacy of disrupting Earth’s carbon cycle, which has been linked to global warming and other types of environmental change. Alternative energy sources provide possible pathways towards a sustainable future, but must be evaluated through a critical lens.
The course examines the various linkages between different energy sources and the environment through the lens of sustainability and Earth sciences. In addition to considering climate, the course also considers linkages between different energy resources and a range of terrestrial environmental issues that have diverse and profound socieoeconomic implications.

The course examines various energy resources, including fossil fuels, wind, hydropower, solar, geothermal, and oil tar sands. The course is inherently interdisciplinary, and requires knowledge of natural sciences, hard sciences, and social sciences.

Course Objectives

  • A comprehensive overview of conventional and “alternative” energy sources,

  • An understanding of the myriad ways in which different energy systems impact the environment,

  • A sense of how to evaluate whether an energy course is sustainable,

  • Technical skills to evaluate the energy-sustainability debate,

  • Through independent investigation and teamwork the student is able to identify a specific research topic and complete a comprehensive final report.

Mode of Instruction

The course is taught in an open discussion format, with lectures on specific content when appropriate. Students expected to contribute to class discussion. To assure optimal participation students are required to have read prior to coming to class. Laptops, phones, and other digital media are not allowed unless requested by the instructor.

Assessment

Students will be assessed in several ways, including individual and group work. Modes of assessment include an exam, presentations a final report, and class participation (see table below).

Exam (30%): one exam (Week 5)
Final Report (35%): 35% (Week 8)
Presentation (30%): two at 15% each (Weeks 3+7)
Class participation (5): 5% (Ongoing Weeks 1-7

Literature

  • No assigned text.

  • A reading “packet” will be made available on the class Blackboard site.

  • IPCC 4th Assessment, 2007. (specific sections online available via Internet)

  • Reading material and assignments on Internet sites.

Contact Information

Dr. Paul Hudson, p.f.hudson@luc.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview

Week 1:
Introduction: Energy and the environment

Week 2:
Global climate change and sustainability
Conventional energy sources

Week 3:
Global Carbon cycle
Carbon capture and storage
Presentations I

Week 4:
Fracking
Geothermal

Week 5:
Canadian Tar Sands
Exam

Week 6:
Hydropower
Wind and wave/tidal energy

Week 7:
Solar energy
Presentations II

Week 8:
Final Report

Preparation for first session

N/A