Understanding Energy and Understanding Energy: Essentials


CEE 107A/207A/EarthSys 103 | Fall Quarter MWF 1:30-2:50 | 80 min | 4-5 Units | Way-SI


CEE 107S/207S | Spring Quarter MWF 12:30-1:20 | 50 min | Summer Quarter Tu 4:30-7:20 | 3-4 Units


[Formerly known as CEE 173A/207A/EarthSys 103: Energy Resources and CEE 107S/207S: Energy Resources - Fuels and Tools]

”I’d recommend it for both engineering and non-engineering students. It’s important to learn about our energy future and the class is well-organized and well-taught.”

- Student, 2016


Welcome to Understanding Energy

Did you know that energy use is the number one contributor to climate change? Or how new technologies, policies, and behaviors – from rooftop solar to batteries to hydraulic fracturing – are changing the way we use energy? Take Understanding Energy and improve your ability to think critically and make decisions around the energy resources that keep our showers hot and drinks cold. Build your energy knowledge!

Everyone Can Benefit From This Class

Anyone with an interest in energy or environmental issues should take Understanding Energy or Understanding Energy: Essentials! There are no prerequisites for this course. Students with and without a technical background - undergrad and grad - are encouraged to enroll. The teaching team and your peers will be available to provide assistance on some of the more challenging aspects of the course via the online forum (Piazza) and almost daily office hours. The fall course qualifies for Way-SI.

In taking this course, students will not only understand the fundamentals of each energy resource -- including significance and potential, conversion processes and technologies, drivers and barriers, policy and regulatory environment, and social, economic, and environmental impacts -- students will also be able to put this in the context of the broader energy system and think critically about how and why society has chosen particular energy resources. Students who take this course will:

Fall Quarter: CEE 107A/207A/EarthSys 103

Understanding Energy (4 units) includes 80 min lectures three times per week, assigned readings and videos, in-class discussions, weekly problem sets, midterm and final exams, one local field trip during regular class time, and two off-campus field trips (chosen by the student out of ~8 offered). This is our more in-depth Understanding Energy offering.

For 5 Units, students additionally attend Workshop - a weekly 80-minute interactive discussion section that takes a deep dive into cross-cutting topics complementary to the Understanding Energy lectures.

The 3 unit option requires instructor approval - please contact Diana Ginnebaugh.

Spring Quarter and Summer Quarter: CEE 107S/207S

Understanding Energy: Essentials (3 units) includes 50 min lectures three times per week, assigned readings and videos, weekly problem sets, midterm and final exams, one local field trip during regular class time, and one off-campus field trip (chosen by the student out of ~5 offered during spring quarter, assigned during summer quarter). Since the lectures are shorter for this course, the "Essentials" version of Understanding Energy does not include as much in-class discussion or technical depth as the fall course. We still cover what you need to know to put energy systems in context and speak intelligently about energy resource-related issues!

As in the fall quarter, for 4 Units, students additionally attend Workshop - a weekly 80-minute interactive discussion section that takes a deep dive into cross-cutting topics complementary to the Understanding Energy: Essentials lectures.

We look forward to seeing you in class!

Diana Ginnebaugh, Karl Knapp, Kirsten Stasio, and Jane Woodward