Politics of Energy

Discipline: Politics and International Relations
Instructor: Glass
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Work: Day 3 - Monday, 1 September | Russia Download Syllabus

Globalization of the planet has generated increasing demands for energy to support continued economic growth of major powers, emerging powers, and developing states.  As national and international appetites for energy increase, dangers to the environment also rise, and the potential for conflict among and between nations is ever present. Students of international relations must understand the forces at work as nations and regions choose a mix of energy sources to support national objectives.  Following a brief introduction to basic types of energy (fossil fuels, nuclear and renewable energies), the course will provide important insights into the national and regional energy policies and problems for voyage destinations.   For developed states in northern, southern and central Europe, pipeline politics play a crucial role in the European energy picture.  Certain European states (France and Germany) wrestle with questions regarding nuclear power. To varying degrees all states, including Brazil, explore and invest in renewable energy sources.  Oil and natural gas are major drivers in African political and economic affairs, while Venezuela’s oil plays a major role in the Caribbean and the global market.

Lectures, readings, classroom activities and quizzes will focus on the relevant regional energy issues prior to each port visit.  Given the broad spectrum of energy issues which differ across regions, the students will gain an appreciation of the complexities of meeting emerging energy requirements in an uneven, complex international system which, at its basis, functions on differing national interests. That perspective will help inform students regarding the energy policies, programs, and priorities of their respective native countries, including the United States.

Given the immense amount of material required for the course, students must complete all reading and written assignments in a timely fashion.   The course will feature interactive student exercises in class,  a problem solving simulation, debates, presentations, and lectures.   Success in the course will depend heavily on student participation in class exercises, as well as on quizzes, homework assignments, field lab exercises and the final exam.   The field lab exercise for this class will take students to meet with energy experts (embassy officials, academicians, or NGOs) in Russia or Brazil to learn about and discuss key energy matters concerning the host country.

Field Work

Country: Russia
Day: 3 - Monday, 1 September

Russia has been and will be a giant in the international energy market for the foreseeable future. As the international system evolves, emerging global powers will shift the supply and demand for energy in significant ways.  Whatever the case, Russia will continue to play a central role.  This lab will provide students with an overview and insights into Russia’s energy assets, including how they are structured and applied, particularly in northern and southern Europe.  Since the voyage will include port visits in the Baltic and Mediterranean regions, it is important for students to understand Russia is very much involved in supplying their energy needs.  Students will travel to the State University of St. Petersburg to meet with Professor Nikita Lomagin to discuss energy matters including oil, gas, nuclear and renewables.  Discussions will cover political, economic, and environmental concerns retarding pipelines in the Baltic and southern European regions. Students will also have an opportunity to meet with Russian counterparts to discuss and compare higher education in Russia. Academic Objectives: 1. To provide an overview of Russia’s energy resources: exports, imports, and trends. 2. To provide information about Russia’s energy companies and organizations. 3. To discuss Russia’s relations and issues concerning Western private sector energy companies 4. To discuss political, economic, and environmental issues relating to the Baltic pipelines. 5. To provide information about structure and practices of higher education system in Russia.