Sustainable energy for university science majors: Developing guidelines for educators

Elon Langbeheim, Peter Rez

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


This paper describes the basic tenets of a sustainable energy course for university science majors. First, it outlines the three core components of the course: 1. The scientific evidence for the connection between climate change and energy usage; 2. An analysis of the capacity and environmental impact of various renewable and traditional energy resources; 3. An overview of alternative pathways for the main energy usage in society—heating/cooling, transportation, and manufacturing. The course aims not only to present factual knowledge, but also to develop a critical approach for weighing between alternative energy solutions based on quantitative analyses. To meet these objectives, we suggest pedagogical considerations for organizing the content of the course, supporting student learning and raising student interest. For example, quantitative problems that can be investigated in the course are discussed as well as place-based examples of energy production from the local environment that can increase motivation for learning. Lastly, we suggest an agenda for research that examines the outcomes of sustainable energy courses that utilize place-based pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-92
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Place attachment
  • Renewable energy
  • Sustainable energy
  • Undergraduate science courses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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