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Introduction To Renewable Energy: An Interdisciplinary Approach

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Sustainable Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.808.1 - 15.808.16



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Paper Authors


Christopher Simon University of Nevada, Reno

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Professor Political Science

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Ted Batchman University of Nevada-Reno

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Professor, Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, Fellow ASEE, Life Fellow IEEE

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Christine Taylor Lewis and Clark University

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Formerly at the University of Nevada, Reno and currently a law student at Lewis and Clark University in Portland, OR.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introduction to Renewable Energy: An Interdisciplinary Approach Abstract

Energy security and climate change issues have precipitated growing awareness of and interest in renewable energy. This paper assesses the impact of renewable energy education in a first-year offering of an introductory interdisciplinary renewable energy course employing a quasi- experimental evaluation design. Findings from the study indicate that the course has a significant impact on student knowledge.

Literature Review

Public policy and engineering are a critical part of any cogent response to growing pressure felt

efficiency choices,4, 12 Students are proactive in demanding energy-efficient, small carbon footprint campuses.16, 18 Some survey evidence suggests that students may even be willing to pay increased fees for green buildings. College and university administrators facing the prospect of high and constantly rising energy costs2 are cognizant of the need to tie green building initiatives to increases in student fees for energy consumption. Community colleges, in particular, are responding to ues by developing green campuses and incorporating energy education into campus design and operations, and into student orientation efforts.7, 9 The rapid movement towards green energy campuses, however, must be accomplished with a sense of the real costs and benefits of the specific green energy initiatives developed.18, 19

Disciplinary change, student value shifts, and rising energy prices create a renewed opportunity to move U.S. public policy and engineering education in a mutually beneficial direction. Calls for change in the way energy education occurs are certainly not new, and earlier expressions of concern are a good source for our current reflection. Writing in 1973, the highly respected Republican legislator Howard Baker pondered the then-current oil supply shortage.4 He concluded that well-developed education programs linking environmental attitudes with energy use could have a strong and lasting impact on energy consumption behaviors in the country. In advocated the development of energy education programs to .3

price spike initiatives.18 Energy education initiatives tend to parallel the ebb and flow of energy prices; but as Dias et al. concluded5 in much the same way as the Club of Rome report17 --human progression towards increased economic development aimed at raising the standard of living of people in all parts of the world almost surely means that energy crises will not solve themselves.

Broadly-inclusive energy education is central to the accomplishment of sustainable development.14 Traditionally, engineering economics and political economy would focus

in energy education might diminish its appeal and limit impacts on student behavioral change. A

Simon, C., & Batchman, T., & Taylor, C. (2010, June), Introduction To Renewable Energy: An Interdisciplinary Approach Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16557

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