MEM Specialization in Energy and the Environment


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 all human activities, but extraction and utilization of energy resources have profound effects on the environment. Society’s desire to access energy resources leads to conflicts at local to international levels and contributes to socioeconomic inequality, while the profligate consumption of fossil fuels changes climate, pollutes ecosystems, and threatens 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 raises risks of nuclear-weapons proliferation; and biomass-energy production impacts food security and complicates biodiversity conservation.

Addressing these challenges and understanding the ramifications of various energy alternatives requires a 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 technology, policy analyses, business, economics, and finance and can take advantage of an array of interdisciplinary and qualitative social-science courses.

The Energy and the Environment Specialization will be of interest to students seeking to better understand climate change mitigation strategies, renewable energy and development, energy economics, and energy efficiency.  Graduates of the Energy Specialization will be prepared to work in a variety of areas, including private sector energy consultancies and renewable start-ups, international financial institutions and development agencies (e.g. World Bank, UNDP), governmental organizations (e.g. EPA, DoE, USAID), and environmental think-tanks (e.g. RFF, WRI).


Introductory Technology/Engineering Law/Policy Business/Finance/Economics Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Courses
Undergraduate courses may be counted towards the completion of the M.E.M. degree. Please check with the registrar to determine credits transferrable.
  • G&G 205 Natural Resources and Their Sustainability
  • G&G 274 Fossil Fuels & Energy Transitions
  • G&G 275 Renewable Energy
  • ECON 331b Economics of Energy and Climate Change
  • ECON 452 Contemporary Issues in Energy Policy
  • INTS 255 Energy, International Security, and the Global Economy
  • ANTH 438 Culture, Power, Oil
  • EVST 398 Energy, Climate, Law and Policy


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 at least 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 Markets Strategy (MGT 820b).   Similarly, the Foundations course The Politics and Practice of Environmental Resource Policy (F&ES 525b) will facilitate understanding of the content covered in Green Energy Policy (F&ES 841a/LAW 21633).  Students are strongly recommended to complete the Foundations course Introduction to Statistics in the Environmental Sciences (F&ES 510a) if they anticipate conducting data-driven energy 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 advanced-level courses. Students should also explore industrial ecology courses through the Sustainable Urban and Industrial Systems Specialization, as energy is a key theme, although not the primary focus of this specialization. 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. 
Faculty Coordinator:  Rob Bailis
Specialization Faculty: Ken Gillingham, Arnulf Grubler, Xuhui Lee, Marian Chertow, James Saiers

1Course has prerequisites.
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