Welcome to Understand Energy
Did you know that energy use is the number one contributor to climate change? Or how new technologies, policies, and behaviors – from rooftop solar to batteries to hydraulic fracturing – are changing the way we use energy? Take Understand Energy and improve your ability to think critically and make decisions around the energy resources that keep our showers hot and drinks cold. Build your energy knowledge! Energy touches everyone - all professions, all races, all people. Understanding the U.S. and global energy systems will give you the knowledge to address climate change and other environmental issues, personally and professionally, to help with justice, equity and human development challenges, and to participate in the energy industry through understanding the technology and markets.
Everyone Can Benefit From This Class
Anyone with an interest in energy or environmental issues should take Understand Energy! There are no prerequisites for this course. Students with and without a technical background - undergrad and grad - are encouraged to enroll. The teaching team and your peers will be available to provide assistance on some of the more challenging aspects of the course via the online forum (Slack) and almost daily office hours. Both courses qualify for Way-SI.
In taking this course, students will not only understand the fundamentals of each energy resource -- including significance and potential, conversion processes and technologies, drivers and barriers, policy and regulatory environment, and social, economic, and environmental impacts -- students will also be able to put this in the context of the broader energy system and think critically about how and why society has chosen particular energy resources (oil, coal,natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, ocean, energy efficiency...). Students who take this course will:
- Develop a greater awareness about the energy flows and systems that allow us to turn on the lights, have cold drinks, and take hot showers.
- Think in terms of energy systems and grasp the complex interactions between energy resources and end uses, including the technological, scientific, policy, and economic considerations, and the private, social, and natural capital impacts along the entire energy resource life cycle.
- Apply this knowledge to…
- think critically about the role of energy resources within our broader society.
- analyze policies and regulations and their social and environmental impacts.
- estimate, calculate, and synthesize energy information.
- communicate about energy use and environmental impacts in meaningful ways.
- be a change agent and innovate solutions that improve our energy use patterns.
- know how YOU can make a difference, how YOU can contribute to sustainability, personally and professionally
- Interact with and observe energy professionals on our incredible field trips
- Have fun and remember the course as a great and challenging learning experience!
“The best class I’ve taken at Stanford. Loaded with information. A big survey course. Take it if you want to improve your understanding of anything related to energy resources.”
- Student, Fall 2019