Sci 321 U – Energy and Society
CRN 66275
Tues/Thurs 12-1:50 SB2 Rm469

Instructor:         Candace Gossen
office hours:      by appointment

Conceptual content: An environmentally sustainable society is one that meets the current needs of its people for food, clean water, clean air, shelter and other basic resources without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their needs. Problems arising from the human need for energy and the environmental degradation that follows has created problems generating from a local to global scale. The na-ture and success in resolving these problems starts with a proper under-standing of the scientific causes and effects of the problems, as well as their socio-economic and politi-cal context.

The premise of this course energy and society is that energy is a social issue with a technical component. We will evaluate the idea of natural capital including free capital like solar and wind while examining the fossil fuel era we are living in. The life cycle of energy including extraction, methods of production, use and disposal are all things that affect our society, and the choices of conservation, economics and policy direct the outcome.

This course will include team projects and fieldwork, as well as fieldtrips to be announced.

Prerequisite: Recommended: Natural Science Inquiry

Reading Requirements:
Edward Abbey – The Monkey Wrench Gang
Additional articles in the online calendar for the class as assigned

BOOK: this book is out of print, but there are 45 available at for roughly $50. I am waiting word from PSU and Blackwell publishers to print a packet of information from this book which will be about 75 pages. you can choose to order the book from or wait til the packet is printed. The Earth Transformed: An Introduction to Human Impacts on the Environment by Andrew Goudie & Heather Viles.

Access to a computer will be very important, If you do not have an ODIN account with PSU please set up an account.

Weekly Assignments worth 20pts each
Groups will be formed the first week of classes and each thursday you will work as a team to answer questions relevant to the Abbey readings in class along with a film review on the topic of the week. You may work with your teammates to answer questions. Each assignment will be worth 20pts. Some assignments may be given over the weekend due on the following Tuesday. Worth 200pts.

Abbey book:
Each week the last 30 minutes of class every Thursday will be devoted to group discussions and question answering for the reading requirements of Abbey for that week. You are expected to outline relevant passages from the book, be ready to share and discuss, as well as give some insight into current issues with energy and what Abbey may do!

On your scheduled final you will turn in a 5 page character story on a scenario of a NW energy issue that Abbey may have written. Details will be added to web calendar. Worth 100 pts.

Proper reference citing:
Wilcox RV. Shifting roles and synthetic women in Star trek: the
     next generation. Stud Pop Culture. 1991;13:53-65.

Reasons for proper reference:
Why sources should be cited
• To show that your edit isn't original research.
• To ensure that the content of articles is credible and can be checked by any reader or editor.
• To help users find additional reliable information on the topic.
• To improve the overall credibility and authoritative character of Wikipedia.
• To reduce the likelihood of editorial disputes, or to resolve any that arise.
• To credit a source for providing useful information and to avoid claims of plagiarism.

Peer review articles are: (click on this link for a full disclosure of what a peer reviewed journal is, AND a link to click on Ulrich’s directory to double check yourself)

Fieldtrips (expected attendance) 50pts.
1. Tillamook Digester - biogas facility Friday 4/27

Term Project:
We will group into teams of 4, with each team picking a subject relevant to social issues and energy (by random draw). A criteria and timeline will be given in class. As a term project this is worth 150points.  Presentation is on the scheduled final date 6/14.  All relevant material required shall be submitted on a CD.

Topics will be randomly chosen.

1. Turning health clubs into renewable energy using human power as batteries
2. Renewable vehicle options or lack thereof – Portland options
3. Garbage is not garbage – renewable energy from portland households using compost.
4. Growing local food on rooftops – a feasibility study
5. Solar options on all households in the city of Portland
6. Renewing a city of 100,000 – water options
7. Saving trees – alternative use of tree products, leave the trees as pollution scrubbers
8. Wind power – land use in Oregon
9. wave and tidal energy is it a new solution?
10. kill the television - what are the savings beyond energy alone?

550 points possible

Term Project                  150 points
Abbey book review        100 points
field trip                              60pts         
10 weekly projects/reviews    190 points

Be on time and turn assignments in promptly

Course Outline
found on the online calendar at

Exercises Points Possible
4 questions (extra credit) 4
koyannisqatsi (film) 20
An Inconvenient Truth (film) 20
Flow diagram energy 20
Transportation field study (group) 20
Oil/Biodiesel 20
Ecohunt (group) 20
Ecological Design (film) 20
hydrogen experiment 10
24 hour challenge 40
Hooley Digester (field trip) 60
hot politics (extra credit) 10
Essay 100
Final (group) 150
Total 500