MEM Specialization in Energy and the Environment

Purpose and Scope

Energy presents one of the biggest challenges we face as we seek more sustainable ways to provide society with goods and services. Energy is an essential input to nearly every human activity, but extraction and utilization of energy resources have profound effects on the environment. Society’s desire to access energy resources, which are distributed unevenly, raises geopolitical issues and energy security concerns. Billions continue to lack access to modern energy services relying on traditional biofuels, suffering severe adverse health effects. Costs and reliability of energy service provision are important concerns for households and businesses in all economies and are important areas for public policy and regulators. The profligate consumption of fossil fuels changes climate, pollutes ecosystems, and also impacts human health.  Traditional and emerging alternative sources of energy pose their own sets of problems:  hydroelectric installations alter hydrologic regimes and displace human populations; nuclear power generates hazardous wastes and can raise the risks of proliferation; and biomass-energy production can impact food security and complicate biodiversity conservation.
Addressing these challenges and understanding the ramifications of various energy alternatives requires both a systemic and multidisciplinary perspective, which can be obtained through the MEM Specialization in Energy and the Environment.  Students following this specialization will gain exposure to a mix of courses in energy systems, energy industries and technologies, policy analyses, business, economics, finance, the environment, and also can take advantage of an array of interdisciplinary and qualitative social-science courses.
The Energy and the Environment Specialization exists to prepare students to help lead in developing a more equitable, efficient, and cleaner energy future. Graduates of the Energy Specialization will be prepared to work in a variety of areas, including, but not limited to, private sector energy firms, energy consultancies and renewable energy start-ups, energy service companies, international financial institutions and development agencies, government agencies, and environmental think-tanks.


Students taking the Energy specialization are strongly encouraged to complete the MEM Foundations courses.[1]  These courses expose students to methodological tools and theories that all MEM students should learn, regardless of their specialization, to excel as environmental professionals.  The courses are

4 core courses, 3 electives, plus a capstone course or project

Specialization Core
Students must complete 4 offerings from within the Specialization Core (12 credits). This includes F&ES 814a plus three additional courses selected from four categories. These courses will give students in the energy specialization a strong foundation in the fundamental concepts required to understand energy systems and their interactions with the society, the economy, and the environment.

Fundamentals Energy, Climate, and Health Energy and Society Energy Technologies and Industries
Energy Economics and Policy
Specialization Electives
Students should also select at least three electives courses. These include disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to a wide range of topics relevant to energy and environmental management.  The selection of elective courses is up to the discretion of the student and his or her advisor. Electives can be chosen to increase either the breadth or depth of understanding and should be selected to strengthen student preparation for the Capstone Project.

Capstone Project
The Capstone requirement may be satisfied by enrolling in F&ES 957b. Another FES Capstone class may be substituted if the project has a strong focus on energy (e.g. F&ES 953 or 970). The Capstone Project itself should focus on applied problem solving and rely on the application of knowledge, methodological approaches, and interpretive techniques gained from courses taken during the prior three semesters of study. The project should originate with the student, with input and advice from the student’s major faculty advisor and/or specialization coordinator.  
The Capstone Project may involve providing a service to a client (e.g., a government agency, company, not-for-profit, or individual) or a research activity that culminates with a paper submitted for publication in a scientific or trade journal. In certain cases, the Capstone Project may involve group work with more than one student. 
All Capstone Projects have four basic deliverables that will be evaluated by the specialization coordinator:  (i) a brief project proposal submitted by the third week of the semester; (ii) a mid-semester progress report; (iii) a final written report; and (iv) an oral presentation of the final project.  An extended abstract describing the project will be published on the School’s (new) Student Research Database, and the oral presentation will be open to all students and faculty of the F&ES community.

Course Selection Guidelines 
Students intending to specialize in the Energy and the Environment Specialization should complete Energy Systems Analysis (F&ES 814a) in their first semester. During the first semester, students should also complete the MEM Foundations courses in economics, policy, and statistics or ensure that they are proficient in these areas.  As an illustration, the Foundations course Economics of the Environment (F&ES 505a) is important to success in the spring-semester course Energy Economics & Policy Analysis (F&ES 800b).   Students are strongly recommended to complete the Foundations course Introduction to Statistics in the Environmental Sciences (F&ES 510a) if they anticipate doing any data-driven analyses in later courses or research. Students with a chemistry or engineering background may consider taking Alternative Energy (CHEM 505a) or Photovoltaic Energy (EENG 406b/ENAS 806b), but should be aware that these are technically advanced courses. Students seeking further counsel on selecting courses within this area should speak with their academic advisor or the Faculty Coordinator of the Energy and the Environment Specialization. 
Acting Faculty Coordinator:  Jim Saiers
Specialization Faculty: Marian Chertow, Ken Gillingham, Bradford Gentry, Arnulf Grubler, Edgar Hertwich, Xuhui Lee, James Saiers, Nadine Unger

[2]This is an undergraduate course. Undergraduate courses may be counted towards the completion of the specialization degree. Please check with the registrar to determine credits transferrable.
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