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Addressing the Broader Impacts of Engineering through a General Education Course on Global Energy Issues

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

New Concepts for Alternative Energy Courses and Concepts

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.132.1 - 25.132.11

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Paper Authors


Lawrence Holloway University of Kentucky

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Lawrence Holloway is TVA Professor and Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Director, Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK), University of Kentucky.

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Addressing the Broader Impacts of Engineering through a General Education Course on Global Energy IssuesIn Fall 2010, a course on Global Energy Issues was developed as part of a multidisciplinaryundergraduate certificate in power and energy. The course was designed to address the policy,economic, and societal issues of energy, in order to complement the more technical coursesrequired as part of the undergraduate certificate. In order to minimize any additional credit hoursrequired of students pursuing the certificate, the course was also designed to fit within theUniversity’s new General Education requirements as a “Global Dynamics” course.Several aspects of this course are of interest. These include the following: 1.) The course topic is excellent not only for increasing understanding of energy issues for the students, but also for addressing the ABET expectations that students understand the broader impacts of engineering. In particular, ABET student outcomes (h) and (j) indicate that students are expected “to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context”, as well as have “a knowledge of contemporary issues”. Although the “impact” of engineering solutions in the past was commonly addressed in the curriculum over many courses, the content of the Global Energy Issues course gives the students a single assessable course where they can examine the impacts, positive and negative, of engineered systems. The course also lets them understand that the impacts operate also in reverse, that is, broad societal, political, environmental, and economic concerns often impact the ultimate directions of technology. 2.) It is expected that such a Global Energy Issues course could be similarly adopted in other institutions as part of the their General Education requirements. The course was targeted to satisfy the University of Kentucky’s new General Education (UKCore) requirements as a Global Dynamics course. The university’s newly developed General Education requirements are representative of changes occurring across many universities programs. A May 2009 survey of members of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) indicated that 78% of members have a common set of learning outcomes characterized as general education within their curriculum, and over 80% are in some stage of assessing or modifying their general education curriculum. 60% indicate some requirement on global courses, mirroring a 2006 survey by AACU where 72% of business and industries surveyed indicate a need for more emphasis on global issues. 3.) The “Global Energy Issues” course was designed to be an “inquiry” course, where the students actively explore issues through a wide variety of readings, invited speakers, documentaries, and other engaged learning activities other than standard lectures.Engineering instructors might feel uneasy with such an approach for several reasons, asdid this instructor at first. The paper will outline the experience and techniques of theinstructor in moving away from a traditional lecture-based format and towards anengaged learning format.

Holloway, L. (2012, June), Addressing the Broader Impacts of Engineering through a General Education Course on Global Energy Issues Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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