Food & Fuel for the 21st Century (FF21) has received a grant from Google to develop and launch a U.C. San Diego Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), utilizing Google’s Course Builder MOOC Platform. Under this project, a cutting edge course on sustainable energy, fuel and food will be developed, designed as a MOOC, piloted and run online and open to the public in 2014. Based on the popular Introduction to Biofuels course at UC San Diego and run through UCSD Extension, Our Energy Future will be expanded to include engineering, economics, climate science, and social science, and will discuss energy production and utilization from each of these perspectives.
Our Energy Future will introduce students to the issues of energy in the 21st century – including food and fuels – which are inseparably linked. This course will cover the current production and utilization of energy, as well as the consequences of this use, examining finite fossil energy reserves, how food and energy are linked, impacts on the environment and climate, and the social and economic impacts of our present energy and food production and use. After the introductory lectures, we will examine the growing field of sustainable food and fuel production, emphasizing the importance of developing efficient and sustainable methods of food and fuel production, and how these new technologies can contribute to replacing the diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, and reduce the consequences of carbon dioxide release into the environment. This course will also cover the importance of creating a sustainable energy future for all societies including those of the developing world. World class lectures will be delivered by experts in the fields of engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, economics, climate science, and social science from UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The MOOC format makes the course available for free to anyone in the world with a computer and internet connection; Our Energy Future will attract a truly global audience. In addition, this project will include the development of a group interactive portal allowing students from all countries and economic levels to bring new ideas on areas covered in the course, to explore local solutions, and to apply this collective knowledge to propose sustainable 21st century energy projects. As part of the MOOC, small groups of students will team up to propose a site appropriate, cutting-edge clean energy project in any location, which could produce a significant amount of energy for that population, be economically sustainable, and have positive environmental and social impacts. Through the diversity of students, the peer review process and an open global community review process, students will also get a previously unavailable opportunity to learn how project design and deployment needs differ in many parts of the world to successfully and sustainably meet developing world needs and cultural differences.
By incorporating Google’s suite of web-based tools, the course will encourage social interactions inside and outside of the “classroom.” These collaborations will help students understand the big picture of global energy needs and potential sustainable solutions on a scale beyond that which is accessible to students in traditional university classrooms. Additionally, it would give policy makers, industry, scientists, engineers and other stakeholders the opportunity to learn from students and local communities about truly innovative and sustainable energy development ideas.
The MOOC is now under development and will launch 2014. Further information on the course, content and how to enroll will be posted here, as information becomes available. Enrollment questions will not be answered until the MOOC is ready to start registrations later in the year. For questions regarding the project and the development of the MOOC, please contact Wendy Stegman (wstegman @ ucsd . edu).