Energy 101

About Energy 101

Energy 101 is a  free, not-for-credit course that gives participants an opportunity to learn basic energy concepts, terminology, and contexts. Geared toward learners with little to no experience with energy, Energy 101 will start with a history of energy across human experience, and then examine key aspects of energy and society, from fossil fuels, to renewables, to energy systems and energy transitions. 


Fall 2020

Course Overview and Schedule

 Preview: History of Energy
Welcome to Energy 101! In our first meeting, we'll explore the history of energy and how it has shaped and been shaped by the societies it serves. We'll look at energy trends over time as well as energy transitions and energy in times of crisis. We'll also take a look at the questions and concepts that will steer our line of inquiry over the next six Energy 101 classes.

Session 1: Energy Systems in the US and Around the Globe
What is an "energy-society system?" How has energy policy shaped energy use, both domestically and abroad? How does energy use differ around the world? We'll use these questions to frame our discussion about the current context of energy on earth.

Session 2: The Roles Energy Plays in Our Lives Today

How does energy shape our modern world? We'll look how energy is used in our economies and day-to-day lives. We'll examine key energy use sectors like transportation, residential and commercial buildings, and industry. We'll also evaluate our personal energy footprint, discuss how individuals can reduce energy use, and examine how policy changes can help these efforts. 

Links to other resources mentioned in this session

Session 3: Fossil Fuels and Their Social and Environmental Implications
Fossil fuels have played a critical role in the development of the industrialized world. We'll examine fossil fuels in terms of regional variation of resources, the current global dependency on fossil fuels, pollution, climate, and environmental justice.

Session 4: Opportunities and Challenges of Renewable Energy
What are our options for a clean energy transition? What are the costs and benefits of solar, wind, and geothermal energy? We'll discuss regional and global variation of renewable energy resources; technology promise and limitations, supply chains, and the special cases of biomass and nuclear energy.

Session 5: Electricity: the Great Connector
Where does electricity come from? How do grids work? What does "electrify everything" mean? Why is storage important? This class will introduce you to the promises and complexities of electricity in transitioning to a sustainable energy future.

Links to other resources mentioned in the session

Session 6: Navigating Energy Transitions
In our final class meeting, we'll look at Dartmouth College as a case study in energy transitions and discuss how YOU can be a change agent in the push for energy systems to better serve society.

Bonus Sessions

Learning the Language of Energy, Part 1: Academic Director Amanda Graham walks you through basic energy concepts and laws.

Learning the Language of Energy, Part 2: Amanda Graham and Experiential Learning Coordinator Kate Salamido explain and illustrate energy units.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of Energy 101, attendees will:

1. Gain an understanding of how energy is used, distributed, and produced, and appreciate the societal implications of energy resource and technology choices

2. Develop a broad vocabulary of energy-related terms and units, as well as knowledge about how energy decisions are made and how key public and private sector stakeholders participate

3. Understand emerging energy systems issues and innovations in the United States and abroad

4. Build meaningful connections with others on campus and in the community working on energy systems & innovation

5. Be more prepared to navigate internship and career opportunities within the energy sector

Participant Expectations

We ask participants to plan to attend the series in its entirety. Content delivered in weekly sessions will overlap, connect, and build over the course of the series to do justice to the interconnected nature of energy systems. A consistent cohort of participants will allow for deeper group discussions and collaborative case study work.