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UMPI to offer energy courses starting this spring

With its wind turbine spinning and lots of questions about renewable energy, the environment, climate change and sustainability in the air, the University of Maine at Presque Isle will offer during the Spring 2010 semester the first of many energy courses designed especially for those who want to understand these key topics and the issues surrounding them, and are thinking about becoming active players in the industry.

“We have made renewable energy and climate commitment top priorities at the University of Maine at Presque Isle and we are proud to make this initial offering of energy courses a very important part of the work we’re doing in this arena,” President Don Zillman said. “These are among the most important issues of our day and it’s going to take the involvement of many knowledgeable and dedicated people to meet the challenges we face. We anticipate that these courses will help to add more informed and committed individuals to the conversation.”

The first three courses to be offered are Energy Law and Public Policy, Sustainability Management, and Energy Fuels. These classes mark the beginning of an Energy and Sustainability Concentration in the University’s academic programming. In the Fall of 2010, several more energy-related courses – to include classes focusing on climate change and renewable energy – will be offered up for students and community members interested in the subjects.

Energy Law and Public Policy will help students understand a complex area of the rapidly evolving energy sector. Students will learn about the law and public policy surrounding energy issues by using a case study based on UMPI’s own wind turbine project.

In Sustainability Management, students will learn about the triple bottom line – a management concept that focuses not just on profits but also on people and the planet.

Energy Fuels will cover a wide range of issues concerning fossil fuels, from an introduction to energy and earth cycles, to the extraction, consumption and emissions of fossil fuels, to climate and change. The course will also discuss other energy options, such as wind and solar power.

As an offering especially for new students, a special learning community will be formed that will allow participants to explore environmental issues while completing general education requirements in English Literature and World Civilization. Participation in the learning community will provide students with a unique opportunity to look at environmental issues related to their English and History studies while working with other students and faculty who are passionate about the topic.

As an offering especially for community members or students who would like to explore energy and the environment through a foundational course, the University regularly offers Introduction to Environmental Science, which teaches students the basics of ecological principles, human population dynamics, environmental health, biological resources, and physical resources and pollution.

There are other opportunities to get involved in the issues, such as joining the University’s Green Campus Action Committee, working on an energy-related independent study project guided by a faculty member, or participating in or attending the “Winds of Change” themed University Day on April 14. University Day is a daylong, public event showcasing the research and scholarly activities of students.

“Our goal is to make sustainability an integral part of our curriculum and our students’ educational experience,” Michael Sonntag, UMPI Vice President for Academic Affairs, said. “The courses being offered this spring, and more that will follow in the coming semesters, are going to give members of campus and the community who want to know more about these issues the opportunity to do hands-on, real world work in sustainability and the environment.”

For more information or to register for a course, call 768-9532 or email