Teach the Earth > Energy > Teaching Activities > The Energy Conundrum

The Energy Conundrum

Dale H. Easley
University of Dubuque
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This is a lecture aimed at preparing students for making the leap from what is to what ought to be. In it, I present the main sociological theories about poverty and examine several places I've lived—New Orleans, Kenya, and Qatar.

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Introductory physical geology for non-majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Must be able to sketch and label basic plate-tectonic processes and opening of Gulf of Mexico.
Must be able to sketch and label a salt dome.
Must be able to describe the steps in petroleum formation.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity comes after a basic introduction to petroleum formation and prior to a culminating synthesis of how we should utilize natural resources.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The goal is for students to use a basic understanding of energy resources as input for deciding how they should be used.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Synthesis is the goal of this activity. The students must synthesize scientific, sociological, and ethical ideas into a consistent world view.

Other skills goals for this activity

All our students struggle with writing. This is another opportunity to work on it.

Description of the activity/assignment

To prepare for this assignment, students first study basic plate tectonics, especially continental rifting and the creation of the Gulf of Mexico. They then study how this results in petroleum deposits. After the attached lecture, they write about how society can best utilize resources.

Determining whether students have met the goals

There is no correct answer to an "ought" question, but there needs to be consistency in argument, accuracy in supporting facts, and consideration of opposing views.

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