Environment Today: Energy and Water -Weekend-Today - Carnegie Mellon University

Environment Today: Energy and Water

Friday, March 26 – Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mellon Auditorium, Tepper School

Environment Today will focus on current environmental issues that face us all. The material will be delivered in a contextual framework that undergraduate students can understand and apply to their lives. While “environment” across the curriculum is emphasized for all students at Carnegie Mellon, this course will allow students to think about environmental issues from the perspective of a field different from their own without needing a deep understanding of that particular field.

The goal of the course is to provide students with an understanding of environmental problems from a variety of perspectives. To achieve this goal, problems will be discussed by professors and professionals with a range of backgrounds including (but not limited to) engineering, history, and economics.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of the course students should be able to write knowledgeably about environmental issues related to water and energy, understand the economic, cultural, and technological limitations that are preventing solutions to these problems from being widely implemented, and understand the economic, social, and technological potential that addressing these problems has. Through the lectures, students will be engaged to think beyond their daily lives to understand what impacts their choices make on water and energy resources. Students will also be challenged to think about what the future of the earth’s resources may be like and what people’s lives might be like if our current approach to material depletion continues. The educational material will be delivered in a way that the students can directly relate to the lessons and hopefully apply the practical learning in their lives going forward.

Course materials:

The course will not require any materials to be purchased in advance. No text books or required pre-reading will be assigned.

Brief course outline:

This course will explore the themes of environmental problems related to water and energy. The course will begin on Friday evening, March 26, with two hours of introductory lectures to set the stage for the rest of the weekend. On Saturday, March 27, the bulk of the curriculum will be delivered. Water-specific and energy-specific information will be delivered in somewhat separate lectures. On Saturday, there will be eight hours of lectures. On Sunday, there will be four hours of lectures that bring together many of the water and energy themes that were discussed the previous day. Sunday is expected to consist of case studies and conclude with a lecture on the power of the individual to address environmental problems.


Grades for this course will be based on one major paper that is prepared by the students after they have attended the lectures. The paper will be a reflection on what the student has learned and will follow many of the guidelines set forth by other weekend-long courses (e.g. China Today).