Geopolitics, Energy, Economics, and Stewardship of the Pacific Northwest

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Spring 2019 quarter

Taught by

political science, economics

This program examines the political, ecological, and energy-related foundations of the Pacific Northwest’s culture and economy. The unique mix of energy, natural resources, agriculture, manufacturing, military, high technology, and finance have created a diverse cultural and economic base. The regional economy, led by manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, and finance, served the region well during most of the 20th century, creating a variety of sources of employment and opportunities for families to achieve a high quality of life.

Changes in the late 20th and early 21st century present new challenges. As we explore these changes, our goals are to define a concrete vision of a sustainable economy in the Pacific Northwest that will account for employment, prosperity and preservation, and restoration of the environment; to examine the roles public policy and entrepreneurship can play to ensure it is achievable; and to understand why it is important to make the transition to a sustainable future. We believe innovation, creativity, and stewardship will help achieve the goals of this program.

Three overarching topics will be explored in depth. Pacific Northwest energy regimes—including natural gas, hydroelectric sources and emerging technologies of tidal, geothermal, and wind—will be examined. Energy is vital to the Pacific Northwest because of the comparative advantages on price the region has long enjoyed. We will examine the composition of, and changes in, the regional economy, including how to understand key economic relationships and how technology and other emerging sectors impact education, demographics, employment, wage structures, and demands for infrastructure and tax base. To fully understand energy and the regional economy, we will integrate considerations of how economics, governance, and ecology are now at critical turning points.

This program is organized around class work that includes lectures, workshops, book seminars, and field trips. Assignments will include seminar papers, field trip reports, briefing papers, individual and team research, and a final project and presentation.

Program Details

Fields of Study

business and management economics environmental studies political economy political science sustainability studies

Preparatory For

government, business, public policy, economic development, public administration and entrepreneurship.


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

No Required Online Learning