Energy is one of the basic properties of our physical world, and strongly controls how humans interact in our modern society. In addition to the scientific aspects of energy, many current socioeconomic, political, and cultural topics feature energy front and center. Debates over fracking, nuclear power, hydroelectric dams, use of fossil fuels and implications for climate change, power needs for increasing human population, political friction over resources, and unintended consequences such as nuclear power plant disasters greatly influence discussions of how society will evolve in the coming decades. In this course we will investigate the interplay between energy, population, politics and economics, and discuss the role of science in these areas. We will pay special attention to issues of prime importance in each of the countries we visit.
Field ClassCountry: South Africa
Day: 1 - Wednesday, 25 March
Students will meet with representatives of a tidal and wave energy engineering firm working to develop new energy systems for coastal regions. We will follow this meeting with a hike along a local river system and discuss the challenges of producing energy without negatively affecting the local culture and other economic interests. We will then meet with representatives from the City of Cape Town to discuss their efforts to deal with affects of climate change on the energy systems needed for this coastal city. Academic Objectives:
- Apply classroom material to a real world setting.
- Discuss the challenges of developing new energy systems for growing coastal populations.
- Investigate a river system and consider the energy development that could occur in this setting while also considering potential effects on the culture and local economy.
- Synthesize classroom material in a real world setting by discussing the effects of climate change and energy delivery and development in Cape Town.