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EME 466 - Energy and Sustainability in Society

This is a sample syllabus.

This sample syllabus is a representative example of the information and materials included in this course. Information about course assignments, materials, and dates listed here is subject to change at any time. Definitive course details and materials will be available in the official course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


EME 466: ENERGY AND SUSTAINABILITY IN SOCIETY (3 credits) is the capstone course for the online Energy and Sustainability Policy Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science Degrees.

EME 466 challenges students to apply the knowledge and skills acquired over the course of their studies to address a current sustainability challenge in their own communities. Venturing out from behind their computers, students will collaborate with Community Partners to work toward feasible, appropriate policy-driven solutions to local sustainability challenges. This course is structured around an inquiry-based project that tasks students with solving the more wicked problems of sustainability while forcing them to distill what they've learned about global challenges into local solutions.

This course provides a culminating experience in which you apply the knowledge, skills, and methods acquired through your studies in the mastery of an energy and sustainability policy topic of your own choosing. You will work independently to discover fully the science, technology, economics, and politics underlying the topic you have chosen. You will identify stakeholders, engage with others, form your own well-supported position and solution, and seek opportunities to participate publicly.


With the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • perform fair and balanced research on current energy and sustainability policy issues
  • discuss your own sustainability worldview
  • form well-supported positions on current energy and sustainability policy issues
  • present position arguments clearly, both in writing and orally
  • approach and engage others, including your Community Partner(s), subject-matter experts, stakeholders, and citizens
  • prepare a Final Capstone Portfolio showcasing your work

Required Materials

Typically, there are no required materials for this course. If this changes, students will find a definitive list in the course syllabus, in Canvas, when the course begins.


GEOG 30N, CAS 100, and GEOG 432. As a capstone course, EME 466 is ideally taken in a student's graduating semester. Student must have instructor and adviser approval to register for EME 466.


What I expect of you

  • Spend ten to twelve hours per week on the project itself - researching, reaching out to stakeholders and community members, and completing your project deliverables and other assigned work. 
  • Step out from behind your computer - This project forces you into the real world to dig into a contemporary policy challenge. You will encounter the unexpected, and things will change. As you know from other facets of your professional lives, this is simply how the world works. It is your job to keep the project on track and to manage challenges as they arise.
  • Approach this project eagerly, with genuine curiosity and enthusiasm - This project requires you to be exceptionally diligent with time management and self-directed work. You are representing not just yourself, but also the Energy and Sustainability Program and Penn State. Be polite, prepared, and deeply attentive. This is a terrific opportunity to learn and to meet new organizations and people--you may make contacts that you value for years to come.

What you can expect from me

  • Support throughout your project - This project is fun but can be a bit daunting and overwhelming at times. I'm here to help!  If you need to chat about strategies for amplifying stakeholder involvement or anything else, you can always come to me. We're in this together.
  • Detailed and timely feedback - Ideally, we want your artifacts from this experience (the slide deck for your presentation, your poster, and your written report) to serve as exemplary examples of the high-caliber work of which you're capable as an ESP graduate. I'll do my best to help you create refined and polished deliverables.

Major Assignments

  • Project Proposal (5% of total course grade)
  • Literature Review (20% of total course grade)
  • Draft Community Partner Deliverables (20% of total course grade)
  • Presentation Rehearsal (10% of total course grade)
  • Digital Story (20% of total course grade)
  • Sustainability Worldview (10% of total course grade)
  • Weekly Journaling (15% of total course grade)

Course Schedule

This course follows the Penn State Academic Calendar for the current term.  Specific due dates are given in the Canvas course calendar.