Southeastern Section - 68th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 21-3
Presentation Time: 2:25 PM


REESE, Joseph F., Geosciences, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, 230 Scotland Rd, Edinboro, PA 16444

Energy issues are of paramount importance in our contemporary global society. With this in mind, I have created a new mid-level undergraduate geology course that provides an overview of energy resources. Students study geologic processes that lead to the origin, migration and entrapment of hydrocarbons and learn techniques of hydrocarbon exploration and extraction. Environmental impacts of energy development are significant, and transitioning to renewable energy resources is happening. As such, students also explore myriad environmental impacts of the energy industry and, through study of renewable energy resources, gain insight into changing trends in global and domestic energy generation and usage. Ultimately, I want students to be able to explain the generation of energy from an array of resources, understand and critique the societal and environmental benefits and drawbacks of using energy from any such resource, and explore, conduct basic research and report on topics related to contemporary energy resource issues. Although a geology course, this offering wanders across many disciplines.

Course structure follows that of Alan Carroll’s Geofuels: Energy and the Earth. I center the course around students doing many activities independently and together, with me giving lectures that prompt in-class discussions. To bolster content, I rely on online resources such as Scott Tinker’s Switch Energy Project, Energy Literacy, Energy 101 from the Department of Energy, and Richard Alley’s Earth: The Operator’s Manual. Students do question sets tied to online readings and videos, energy-and-society annotated bibliographies, short papers and oral presentations on specific energy topics, team explorations of local energy issues with in-class report-outs, work focused on Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing, mid-term assessments of the pros and cons of renewable energy resources, and final syntheses on the future of energy. No doubt, many more, new resources are available, ones I will incorporate into the next course offering. Through informal course evaluations, students reported that they enjoyed the course immensely. As feedback, they suggested that I bring in guest lecturers, conduct field trips to local energy sites, have more debate, edit some exercises, and give more evaluation. Fuel for next time…