Skagit Valley College

Catalog Course Search Details

 Course Title:   Energy and Society

 Title Abbreviation:   ENERGY & SOCIETY

 Department:    EASC

 Course #:    110

 Credits:    5

 Variable:     No

 IUs:    5.5

 CIP:    n/a

 EPC:    n/a

 REV:    2018


 Course Description  

An exploration of the scientific basis for our conventional energy resources (fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro) and for renewable/sustainable energy resources (solar, wind, biomass etc.). Surveys the political, social, economic and environmental context of how our culture uses energy and the barriers to large-scale renewable energy implementation. Lab included.

 Prerequisite  

Prerequisite: Appropriate placement or grade of 2.0 or higher in ENGL 099.

Additional Course Details

Contact Hours (based on 11 week quarter)

Lecture: 44

Lab: 22

Other: 0

Systems: 0

Clinical: 0


Intent: Distribution Requirement(s) Status:  

Academic Natural Sciences  

Equivalencies At Other Institutions

Other Institution Equivalencies Table
Institution Course # Remarks
UW PHYS 217

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Trace energy flows and think in terms of energy systems
  2. Understand the physical, chemical, biological and/or environmental frameworks from which our “conventional” & renewable/sustainable energy resources originate
  3. Assess the credibility of information about energy
  4. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of our “conventional” and renewable/sustainable energy resources from technological, political, economic, social and environmental perspectives
  5. Know how much energy they use, for what, & where their energy comes from
  6. Communicate about energy resources, energy use and the technical and social barriers to large-scale renewable energy implementation in meaningful ways
  7. Make informed energy use decisions based on an understanding of impacts & consequences

General Education Learning Values & Outcomes

Revised August 2008 and affects outlines for 2008 year 1 and later.

0. Application and Integration

Definition: Applying information from one or more disciplines and/or field experiences in new contexts (Outcome 0.1); developing integrated approaches or responses to personal, academic, professional, and social issues (Outcomes 0.2-0.5).

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
0.5 Analyze and reflect upon insights gained from integrating multiple perspectives in a purposeful project or experience.

2. Critical Thinking

Definition: The ability to think critically about the nature of knowledge within a discipline and about the ways in which that knowledge is constructed and validated and to be sensitive to the ways these processes often vary among disciplines.

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
2.1 Identify and express concepts, terms, and facts related to a specific discipline.

5. Global & Local Awareness & Responsibility

Definition: Understanding the complexity and interdependence of, and stewardship responsibilities to, local and global communities and environments.

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
5.1 Understand the impact of their own and other’s actions on local/global communities and environments and how those communities/environments affect them in turn.
5.3 Understand the consequences of choices as they relate to local/global community and environmental issues.
5.4 Understand the concept of local/global stewardship, and its ethical components, to communities and environments.

8. Mathematical Reasoning

Definition: Understanding and applying concepts of mathematics and logical reasoning in a variety of contexts, both academic and non-academic.

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
8.2 Correctly apply logical reasoning and mathematical principles to solve problems.
8.3 Interpret information and reasoning expressed mathematically (for example in spreadsheets, diagrams, charts, formulas, etc.).

9. Scientific Literacy

Definition: Understanding scientific principles, and analyzing and applying scientific information in a variety of contexts.

Outcomes: Students will be able to . . .
9.2 Demonstrate their understanding of the principles of scientific methods, analysis, and reasoning.
9.3 Analyze, apply, and communicate scientific concepts and principles in context (for example, in technological, personal, and/or professional situations).

Course Contents

  1. Overview of Energy & Society
    • Energy is a physical quantity that follows precise natural laws
    • Physical and biological processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
    • Various sources of energy can be used to power human activities, and often this energy must be transformed to a new form or transferred from source to destination.
    • Energy use and decisions are influenced by economic, political, environmental, & social factors.
    • The quality of life of individuals and societies is affected by energy choices.
  2. Energy Basics
    • Energy is a physical quantity that follows precise natural laws. (Revisited)
    • The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
    • Energy is neither created nor destroyed but can be transferred from system to system.
    • Energy available to do useful work decreases as it is transferred from system to system.
    • Energy comes in different forms and can be divided into categories.
    • Chemical and nuclear reactions involve transfer and transformation of energy.
  3. Energy Sources / Impact of Energy Production and Use
    • Physical and biological processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system. (Revisited)
    • Sunlight, gravitational potential, decay of radioactive isotopes, and rotation of the Earth are the major sources of energy driving physical processes on Earth.
    • Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
    • Fossil and biofuels are organic matter that contains energy captured from sunlight.
    • Humans are part of Earth’s ecosystems and influence energy flow through these systems.
    • Humans transfer, transform and store energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
    • Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported, and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
    • Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
  4. How Energy is Used / End-use Energy Technology and Practice
    • Various sources of energy can be used to power human activities, and often this energy must be transformed to a new form or transferred from source to destination. (Revisited)
    • The amount of energy used by human society depends on many factors.
    • Humans transfer, transform and store energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors (transportation, electricity, buildings, manufacturing).
    • Human use of energy is subject to limits and constraints.
    • Conservation and efficiency represent important areas of untapped potential.
  5. Energy Policy and Decision-Making
    • Energy decisions are influenced by economic, political, environmental, and social factors. (Revisited)
    • The quality of life of individuals and societies is affected by energy choices. (Revisited)
    • Human demand for energy is increasing but Earth has limited energy resources.
    • Behavior and design, and therefore social and technological innovation, affect the amount of energy used by human society.
    • Economic & national security as well as environmental quality are impacted by energy choices.
    • Access to energy resources (e.g. fossil fuels) affects quality of life.