L&S Curricular Connections

Big Ideas Courses

Business Administration 193B / Letters and Science 126

Energy and Civilization

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Today we are at the precipice of what many observers hope will lead to a major paradigm shift in energy production and use. Two transitions are needed. On the one hand, we must find ways to extend the benefits of modern energy systems to the impoverished people living in the developing world while continuing to provide these benefits to the people of the developed world. On the other hand, we must completely overhaul the existing system to fight climate change and other forms of air and water pollution. Many people believe that it is critically important that both transitions take place soon.

Are these shifts truly within our reach? Can we achieve both simultaneously? If so, how?

The purpose of this Big Ideas Course is to grapple with these questions. We introduce a multi-disciplinary systems approach to examine the challenges raised by modern civilization’s need to shift to a new energy paradigm. Our approach integrates analysis of societal, cultural, economic, technological, structural, and political drivers of energy development with an examination of the constraints, challenges, impacts, and uncertainties that make problem-solving in general difficult, and resolving modern society’s energy problems in particular, very hard. We use this systems approach to engage with the challenges of transitioning to an energy future that is both environmentally and economically sustainable and capable of providing the energy benefits on which modern civilization has come to depend to all people.

Christine Rosen faculty profile
Christine Rosen (Haas School of Business)
James Rector faculty profile
Jamie Rector (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Ahmed Badruzzaman faculty profile
Ahmed Badruzzaman (L&S)

Terms Offered

  • Fall 2019
  • Fall 2018
  • Fall 2017
  • Fall 2016