GEOL3650: Energy: A Geological Perspective

James D. Myers

University of Wyoming (University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs)


Examines the energy needs of a modern industrialized society. Looks at the typesof energy, the natural laws that govern its use, transformation, and conservation. The different sources of energy available to modern societies are examined. Examination includes fossil fuels, nuclear power as well as alternative energy sources. The formation of the resource is dicussed, how it is extracted, and any environmental consequences assoicated with its extraction and use.

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Course Context:

This is a upper division course equally split between geology majors and non-majors. It satisfies the university's University Studies requirements in Earth science and global. The course consists of three one-hour lectures and a two-hour lab. Lab is based on case studies, which students do in groups. Students must present oral presentations as well as submit written reports. The course has no prerequisites.

Course Goals:

Goals: To prepare you so that as a citizen you can participate in discussions about energy in an informed and constructive manner. To accomplish this, the course will:
  • review qualitative assessment, quantitative calculation and graph interpretation skills (fundamental literacies) needed to assess energy questions economically;
  • introduce the techniques (technical literacies) necessary for evaluating the geological aspects of energy resources;
  • describe the methods (citizenship literacies) for assessing the social impacts of energy extraction and use;
  • present the geologic content needed to understand the origin and distribution of a variety of the Earth's energy sources; and
  • build an awareness of comparative, international and global decision-making processes through historical and contemporary case studies of energy development and use.

Outcomes: You will be able to:
  • identify data/information needed to make an informed decision about energy;
  • nderstand the basics of the geologic formation of both renewable and non-renewable energy sources;
  • assess the range of potential social impacts associated with specific energy projects; and
  • formulate means of evaluating systematically proposed energy development projects.


lecture exams
written reports
oral presentations
pre- and post fundamental and technical literacy survey
pre- and post citizenship literacy survey
pre- and post knowledge survey


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 83kB Jun23 06)

Teaching Materials:

pre/post fundamental & technical literacy survey (Microsoft Word 4.8MB Jun23 06)
pre/post citizenship literacy survey (Microsoft Word 167kB Jun23 06)
pre/post knowledge survey (Microsoft Word 502kB Jun23 06)

References and Notes: