The ESP program objectives (listed below) were developed to
outline the BA program for Energy and Sustainability Policy which emphasizes
energy industry knowledge, sustainability ethic, global perspective, analytical
skills, and communication skills. As was
intended, Geog 432 largely focused on several of these areas (indicated by the
bolded sections) and surpassed them to cover many of the overall program
objectives. The following is my personal reflection on the topics covered in
Geog 432 and the application of the objectives outlined in the ESP program.
Energy Industry Knowledge - The course
offered an overview on basic energy concepts and the flow from producers to
consumers. It also went through all of the energy types and the environmental
considerations for each. The course
materials were very valuable for increasing student's knowledge of the energy
industry. The combination of all the lessons which made up the course
thoroughly covered the indicated topics for this area. Along with the lesson content, supplemental
resources were provided which gave students the opportunity to independently
gather information from reliable sources. These resources were a combination of
unbiased, official government documents and thoughtful opinion pieces, which
encouraged students to question underlying motives and causes. Students also
become familiar navigating official websites and documents to become
comfortable recognizing misinformation and the use of propaganda.
The course went beyond the bold areas
that were indicated to include a case study exemplifying energy and
environmental economics. Incorporated into Lesson 5, "Case Study: Energy in
Common" describes the development of a nonprofit organization which resulted
from the failure of policy to economic and environmental issues. The case study
showed how different organizations and market tools can be utilized to influence
market and non-market values, such as greenhouse gas emission levels.
Sustainability Ethic - Geology 432
also surpassed the indicated areas in the ESP Program Objectives by featuring
aspects of sustainability ethics in the lesson materials and required readings.
The internal policies of various organizations were examined to gain an
understanding of local level energy policy. For instance, it was seen that
corporations like Bank of America or Molson Coors often choose to engage in
sustainability ethics to agree with social and environmental interests.
Adopting favorable energy and environmental policies helps the company's reputation
as being socially responsible. Additionally, Lesson 2 incorporates sustainability
ethics with a case study on environmental policy at Penn State University. The
study explains all of the sustainability practices taking place around campus,
providing an informational video and links for more information. As PSU
students, the case study encourages the Penn State community to be involved in
the University's efforts.
Global Perspective -Aspects of
global perspective are present in a subdivision of Lesson 6 that focuses on public
and private goods regulation of goods and services. A required reading was the Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin,
which examined the exploitation and depletion of common goods. It explains the
human pressures put on Earth's resources through overpopulation, private
benefit, and a westernized lifestyle. This lesson also explains the The
Precautionary Principle, first proposed in 1992 at the United Nations
Conference, which was intended to protect the environment from human actions or
Analytical Skills - The course required students to
reflect on historical events and the evolution of energy policy to understand
how America's current energy policy came to be. For example, one of the first
required readings was Energy Strategy:
The Road Not Taken, written in 1976 by Amory B. Lovins, which discussed the
energy concerns of that time and the different paths the country could take. Personally,
I felt this older 1970's piece allowed me to understand the view on energy
during that time and the driving forces behind the formation of energy policy
in the coming decades. This and a myriad of additional materials helped me
to understand the complexity of policy formation and its effects on energy
systems. Chapter 1 of American Public
Policy was notably helpful because it focused on the many different forms
public policy can take and showed just how intricate and fragile the effects on
society can be.
Students were regularly prompted to consider the
involvement of politics, economics, and the environment in policy formation. Lesson
materials elaborated on the role of government in the various stages of
development, those being formulation, implementation, and enforcement. They
also had students consider the multitude of different organizations that
influenced policy formation and their role in regulation. For instance, the
roles of national, state, and local authority in resource regulation were put
into perspective by looking at the Marcellus Shale. This example clearly demonstrated
the difficulties companies face in adhering to local, state, and federal
regulations. Additionally, we were prompted to consider the influence of states
on federal policy and vice versa with readings like The Executive Summary of Climate Policy in the State Laboratory.
Students also explore a timeline
of major energy policy landmarks from 1920 to 2009 and learn the major
components behind Renewable Portfolio Standards, ACES, Energy Independence and
Security Act of 2007, and the Kyoto and Post-Kyoto International Agreements. It
is then required to examine one of these policies and give a summary includes
the policy's purpose, policy requirements, the agency responsible, a related
federal court case, and major challenge of the policy.
Communication Skills - Penn State's World Campus
allowed students from all regions of the world to enroll in Geology 432. To
encourage active collaboration with fellow classmates, each student was
assigned a discussion group with a forum for offering constructive feedback. As
students worked through the components of their Energy Policy for the Capstone
Project, they received critiques from students of diverse backgrounds. This
feedback let students learn from one another by offering additional factors to
consider in writing their policies. For example, my critiquing partner had
experience in the natural gas energy, which was a central feature of my policy.
He was able to give me practical criticism on how my policy could fail that
otherwise would have gone unacknowledged.
Additionally, students participate in the course
blog on a weekly basis and often had to reflect on the intended and unintended
consequences of energy policy and regulation. The blog writing assignments
consisted of exploring the factors which influence policy formation, implementation,
and effectiveness. It was also required for students to comment on each other's
posts to offer similar or conflicting viewpoints, which similarly required
effective speaking to diverse audiences.
ESP Program Objectives
- Demonstrate broad and accurate
business and technical knowledge of all major sectors of the energy
industry, including conventional, alternative/renewable, and emerging
- Recognize and correct
misinformation about the energy resources on which society depends, the
prevailing and emerging new technologies, policies and associated rules by
which energy is produced and supplied, and the environmental and human
implications of energy consumption.
- Explain the requirements of
private and public sources of financing of energy ventures in light of
political, legal and regulatory considerations, tax and accounting
policies, and warrantied performance of energy technologies.
- Cite case studies to explain
principles of energy and environmental economics, including pricing of
non-market values, cap and trade, and social discounting.
- Embody the conviction that
corporate interests can be reconciled with social and environmental
- Advocate public participation in
decisions whose outcomes affect environmental justice.
- Make a business case for
sustainable practices in the context of a particular energy business or
- Illustrate and explain the
geographic distributions of various energy resources.
- Discuss case studies that reveal
how global systems of energy production, distribution and consumption are
linked with social and environmental systems in particular places (e.g.
climate change, water scarcity).
- Document pertinent insights gained
from an overseas field trip, internship, or other relevant international
- Find, read, understand, interpret
and synthesize evolving energy policy and regulations.
- Understand legislative processes
within state, federal and international governments, including the roles
of regulators, non-governmental organizations and other advocacy groups.
- Prepare and critique quantitative
benefit and cost analyses of proposed and existing energy business
- Assure regulatory compliance of
utilities and related entities.
- Help identify advantageous sites
and routes for energy generation, transmission and distribution.
- Effectively explain to diverse
audiences - orally, in writing, and through maps and other information
graphics - the intended and unintended consequences of energy policy and
- Listen to and learn from other
members of diverse teams.
- Demonstrate competence in a
language other than English.