PC 121 - Energy and Society

Bob Ford,
Frederick Community College


Explores the nature and properties of energy. Emphasizes a scientific understanding of energy and is role in the global society. Examines current and alternative energy sources used to meet the needs of a growing and developing society. Some Friday or Saturday field trips.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture only

Institution Type:
Two Year College

Course Context:

This is a general education science class taken by students to satisfy their general education science requirement without having to take a second laboratory course. The students represent a variety of majors and are science phobic and wanting as little pain and suffering as possible when taking their second science course.

Course Content:

The course provides an overview of energy fundamentals, such as "What is energy?" and "What are the common units of energy?" as well as introduces current and emerging energy technologies.

Course Goals:

1. Apply the fundamental principles of energy.
2. Explain the physical and technological principles underlying current and alternative energy systems.
3. Analyze the impact of energy systems on human societies.
4. Collect, analyze and present scientific data.
5. Apply lifelong learning strategies to energy use decision-making.
6. Evaluate critically energy-related claims in the popular press.

Course Features:

The current course structure is lecture supplemented with field trips. Student teams prepare a presentation on the basics and challenges of one of the emerging energy systems such as wind, solar and bioenergy.

Course Philosophy:

Energy topics are the primary thrust of the course. I integrate energy issues into other courses I teach. I believe strongly students need an understanding of energy and energy systems in order to make informed personal, social and political decisions throughout their lives.


My primary assessment tools are group papers/presentations, tests and popular literature critiques.


Energy and Society Course Syllabus (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 28kB May8 09)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Risstinen, R. A. and J. K. Kraushaar. 2006. Energy and the environment (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons. Inc. (ISBN 978-0-471-73989-0)