A new MOOC addresses big-picture energy issues

The debate over energy consumption and its consequences is constantly evolving. How long will fossil fuel supplies last? What are the long-term implications of fracking and other technologies that extend their use? At what point will renewable energy systems replace fossil fuels altogether? Such questions have a direct impact on our health, wealth, and security.

Beginning on June 21, the Massive Open Online Course Energy and the Earth will give more than 8,000 people an online forum in which to explore these topics. It will help energy consumers, producers, and policymakers understand what’s at stake.

Energy and the Earth will be taught by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Alan Carroll, a professor of geoscience and a field geologist with over 30 years combined experience in academia and the energy industry. It will investigate the physical realities of energy supply and the challenges associated with different energy systems, from fossil fuels to solar to nuclear.

Energy and the Earth will officially run June 21-July 18 and will remain open, though unmoderated, through 2015 as a free educational resource. Anyone can register, regardless of prior experience.

Field trip to La Crosse

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are noncredit learning experiences that allow people from around the globe to participate. You can sign up for free and watch educational videos, engage in discussion forums, and read articles.

Energy and the Earth is the fourth of six MOOCs UW-Madison is offering in 2015-16. Upcoming courses include Forests and Humans: From the Midwest to Madagascar and Climate Change Policy and Public Health.

Energy and the Earth will attract learners from around the world, but it also features an event specific to Wisconsin. On July 29, UW-Madison and Gundersen Lutheran Health System will offer a field trip and tour of Gundersen’s Biomass Boiler Project and Landfill Gas Project in La Crosse. The event is free, but space is limited.

For more information on Energy and the Earth and UW-Madison MOOCs, contact Lika Balenovich, Lika.Balenovich@wisc.edu, 608-890-2442.