The United States purchased the U.S. Virgin Islands from Denmark just prior to declaring war on Germany in 1917. By the end of the 1960s, the formerly agricultural island of St. Croix was home to the world’s largest oil refinery. The refinery made its profits accepting tankers full of Alaskan oil that could not dock elsewhere in the United States as well as foreign shipments subject to strict import quotas in the 50 states. On the other side of the globe, at the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia retained control of pipelines supplying gas to Ukraine and through it to the Europe Union. Whenever disputes arose over pricing, the volumes of gas reaching Europe vs being diverted to Ukraine, or Ukraine’s pro-NATO stance, the Russia supplier, Gazprom, threatened to, or did, cut off the supply. People went without heat or cooking fuel in the sub-freezing winter. Even farther north, Indigenous Sami reindeer herders fought against not fossil fuel development but renewable wind energy development on their rangelands. In October 2021, the Norwegian Supreme Court revoked the licenses of two wind farm operators whose turbines were found to frighten the grazing herds and interfere with the legal rights of the Sami.
What do these examples have in common? They demonstrate the intricate connections between geography, society, politics/policy, and energy. This elective will draw on these and other case studies to explore these connections to help us better prepare a new energy future and the policies that will shape it.
This course will be offered in a "hybrid" approach. Class meetings will occur both in-person attendance on campus and with a fully-online synchronous option for student participation.