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Syllabus

Instructor Peter N. Saeta, Keck 1247, 7-3939, saeta@hmc.edu
Office hours TBA; see my calendar for my availability and e-mail me if you'd like to arrange a time to meet. Promising places to look for me include my office and the sophomore lab, Jacobs B115.
Meetings Thomas-Garrett 206, MW 13:15--14:30
Premise Modern society has developed in an environment of inexpensive high-quality energy sources; it is difficult to imagine a modern technological society of radically reduced energy consumption, and yet the primary sources on which we rely have begun to cause non-negligible perturbations to Earth’s climate. We will apply basic physical principles and back-of-the-envelope calculations to problems of energy production and the concomitant consequences to the environment. In addition we will consider the social ramifications of energy production and policy, and seek to identify promising approaches for the future.
Objectives
  • You will understand how to think about energy and power quantities on the national and global scale, and to explain them to a lay audience
  • You will know what energy policies are currently in place in California, the United States and elsewhere in the world
  • You will become a class expert in a particular area of interest, teaching the rest of us in short presentations and following up on our questions and suggestions
  • You will understand externalities and how they can be factored into economic analyses
  • You will explore the role that current energy delivery systems play in shaping modern life, politics, economics, and culture.
Etiquette I am old-fashioned regarding electronic (and other written) communication: I appreciate capitalization, spelling, proper grammar, and good writing. Please type accordingly! Much of our work will be shared on the course wiki and serve as inspiration for future generations of students (not to mention potential applicants and students).
Assignments
Short essays, reading logs, questions, debates, etc. 25%
A 16--20-page term paper; peer reviews of 2 other students' papers 40%
Presentations on your topic of expertise 25%
Punctual attendance and active participation in class 10%