Mentor: Dr. Don Barber
As global economies pump greenhouse gases and other emissions into the atmosphere, causing a variety of negative environmental impacts, the supply of non-renewable fossil fuels that the world relies on for energy is being rapidly consumed. In order to address this unsustainable situation, improved education regarding the associated issues, including climate change is a critical need. Through expanded education about the environmental, economic and social impacts of the changing climate, we will reach a point of literacy at which students are better able to assess what is being done to counteract these effects and what more there is to do in the line of policy and technology. This project explores some of the methods of teaching climate change issues with a focus on alternative and renewable energy resources and the relevant public policy issues. Students will begin the semester with an exploration of climate change and other impacts of our energy consumption patterns. They will explore issues of energy usage and sustainability for the growing world population, taking into account the developing market for alternative and renewable energy. After understanding the technology and capacity of these systems, students will begin to address the problems of policy-making for international environmental regulations. Articles like “The Tragedy of the Commons,” written by Garrett Hardin provide a base for thinking about governing that which cannot be owned such as the atmosphere. Through hands-on module and project development, like “Fish Banks, Ltd.,” a role playing game and microcosm for sustainability created by Dennis L. Meadows, students will learn about depletion and other issues facing the world’s shared resources. Students will be asked to think about their own impact on the environment and by the end of the semester, students learn to use HOMER, an energy modeling program designed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to assess personalized questions about energy use at home, on campus or in the community. Through carefully selected readings and current events we are developing a curriculum that will enable students to begin to understand and address this multi-dimensional issue in order to work toward solutions.