World I:Energy & Climate Hist – 41123 – HIST 007 – 01/02

Professor Matthew Johnson

HIST 007: Energy and Climate Change in Historical Perspective Current and future generations will confront the challenges of anthropogenic climate change, which is, at its core, an energy problem. Since the industrial revolutions of the nineteenth century, humans have been burning fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, on an unprecedented scale. Growth in fossil fuel use accelerated after 1945, and has led to both impressive gains in material well-being and dire environmental consequences. Starting in the 1970s and 1980s, countries around the world began calling for a divestment from fossil fuels both in the interest of energy security and in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Many countries have made great strides towards low-carbon energy systems, but some of the biggest industrial giants have made little progress. This module will explore the history energy and climate change since the 1820s, with a focus on the more recent efforts to explore alternative energy systems. Students will learn about the history of energy and climate change through short lectures, texts, class discussion, and two course assignments. The first assignment focuses on Georgetown University’s campus, whose recent energy history has left some intriguing visible remnants, such as the solar panels on the roof of the ICC. The second assignment looks at innovative energy systems around the world, and asks students to compare and contrast at least two countries with different energy systems. The historical perspective that this module offers will grant students a firmer understanding of one of our generation’s greatest challenges.

  • Categories:
    2021 Fall Semester, Course Archive, History

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