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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2010

T C 357 • Energy & Society

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43575 TH
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
CRD 007A

Course Description

This course will give Plan II students an overview of energy and its role in society. Topics will include an introduction to quantitative concepts in energy, including the differences among fuels and energy technologies, but will primarily focus on the societal aspects, such as culture, economics, war, and international affairs. This course will cover brief snippets of energy history, use real-world examples, look forward into the future, and benefit from guest speakers. Emphasis will also be given to the role of Texas as a leader (and laggard) in U.S. and world energy policy.

Grading Policy

A research term paper (12 pages), field report after a field trip to a local power plant or other energy-related site (2 pages), participation in class, quizzes on the reading assignments, two op-eds (<600 words)


• The Prize, by Daniel Yergin
• Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Select portions)
• EIA Annual Outlook of 2007 (Summary, Introduction and select portions)
• "A Tank of Gas, a World of Trouble," special series by the Chicago Tribune, August 2006
• “End of Cheap Oil,” National Geographic, 2004
• Oil!, by Upton Sinclair

Potential movies include: Giant, Syriana, Inconvenient Truth, Who Killed the Electric Car, Silkwood, and Coal Miner's Daughter

About the Professor

Dr. Michael Webber (a Plan II alumnus) earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering with a minor in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 2001. He joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin in 2006. He is the associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, which seeks to inform the energy and environmental policy-making process with scientific and engineering expertise.

Dr. Webber has led research projects for policy issues relevant to energy, innovation and national security. He has commercial experience at a start-up where he invented cutting-edge laser-based gas-sensing instrumentation for homeland security, industrial and environmental monitoring applications. While at Stanford, he developed diode laser-based gas sensors for applications such as monitoring environmental emissions, analyzing space station bioreactors and optimizing combustion. Webber has given more than 100 speeches and presentations to a range of technical and general audiences, as well as executive briefings to senior decision makers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Defense and Hondas American research and development center.


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