Climate Crisis: Implementing Solutions

Course Information

The course is designed so that students will learn the fundamentals related to harnessing energy from various sources (conventional and renewable), their environmental consequences, and the effect on society. The energy sources will be compared in terms of their costs, constraints, and environmental effects all within the context of social values and public policy.

This course will be optimistic and upbeat, and will show that we can meet the challenge of global warming by shifting our energy use to electricity in all sectors of society as much as possible, generating electricity from renewables, using it efficiently, and minimizing overall energy usage through increased conservation efforts. Students will become more informed and engaged citizens on the course topics and be in a better position to identify their own passions and able to pursue further studies accordingly.

Class size limit: 30

Sample Syllabus

U of M Catalog Description

Energy from renewables such as solar and wind to combat potentially catastrophic climate change resulting from our use of fossil fuels; electrifying our transportation; ways to increase energy efficiency and energy conservation; need for energy storage to increase the penetration of renewables; role of technology, societal benefits and the ethics.

Approximately nine experiments will be included in the lab from among the following:

  1. Demonstration of Global Warming by CO2
  2. Power Generation Through Photovoltaics (PVs)
  3. Electrical Characteristics of PV Panels and the Maximum Power Point
  4. PV Panels in Series and Parallel Combinations
  5. Wind Turbine Characteristics and the Maximum Coefficient of Performance
  6. Wind Turbine Characteristics for Varying Wind Speeds and Pitch Control of Blades
  7. Battery Characteristics
  8. AC Electric Systems: Real and Reactive Power, 1-Phase
  9. Three-Phase AC Systems, Motors and Generators
  10. Lighting Technologies: LEDs Compared to Incandescent Lamps and CFLs
  11. Growing Plants Using LEDs and Batteries in Greenhouses
  12. Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps
  13. Simulation of Various Energy Resources to Meet the Load Demand on the Electric Grid
  14. Economic Calculations of using an Electric Vehicle and Participating in Community Solar Gardens.

Student Qualifications

Students enrolling in EE 1701/EE 1703 must be juniors or seniors who have earned a B or better in at least one rigorous science course such as physics, chemistry, environmental science, earth science, or biology, and have earned a B or better in at least one upper-level math course such as algebra 2/trigonometry, precalculus, calculus, modeling, probability, or statistics.

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the U of M policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

Unless you are teaching the course over a full 15-week semester or longer, teachers should contact the faculty coordinator before submitting any part of their application to ensure that the proposed schedule will work.

View the Teacher Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps. 


There is no textbook for this course. The University will provide resources such as video-taped lectures, numerous PowerPoint slides, supporting reference materials, and over time will develop inexpensive demos that teachers will be able to replicate for use in their classrooms.

Lab activities are designed around the Vernier family of devices that are commonly used in many high schools. Read a list of all the equipment needed. Although the experiments were designed for the Vernier LabPro (which is now being discontinued), they are easily portable to the new Vernier hardware.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do schools need to offer both courses? Do students need to register for both courses? 
EE 1701/EE 1703 are being offered as a single 4-credit course, and students registering for U of M credit in EE 1701 will automatically be registered for the accompanying lab, EE 1703. Likewise, if a student withdraws for U of M credit from one of the courses, they will automatically be withdrawn from both. Schools will be charged the CIS fee once for each registration in EE 1701. There will be no additional fee for EE 1703.

Are all of the readings specified or mandated by the University of Minnesota? Are there required assignments or labs?
Given the changes in the environment and in the energy sector, teachers are encouraged to think about this as an evolving course—the focus, reading materials, labs, and required assignments will change over time. Teachers will start with a set of required readings, assignments, demonstrations, and labs and will work with the faculty coordinator to revise, adjust, and replace these as needed. Individual teachers are free to augment required readings, assignments, and labs. The University will develop an initial set of inexpensive demonstrations that can be replicated in high schools; teachers in the cohort will work with the faculty coordinator to improve and add to the set.

Who creates the exams? 
University of Minnesota faculty will write the exams and determine how they are weighted for the final grade.

Is there a training and mentoring system for teachers new to CIS? 
The faculty coordinator welcomes phone or email check-ins with individual teachers during the term to supplement the workshops during the school year and summer. A cohort listserv facilitates easy communications. New teachers also benefit from an orientation to College in the Schools that will familiarize them with the support available through CIS as well as prepare them for administrative tasks such as registering students and posting grades.

High school class schedules vary: can a teacher in the block system teach literature? 
All courses offered through CIS have the same minimum number of contact hours as the on-campus sections. Unless you are teaching the course over a full 15-week semester or longer, teachers should contact the faculty coordinator before submitting any part of their application to ensure that the proposed schedule will work.

What happens at typical teacher workshops? 
CIS teachers attend professional development workshops each term and in the summer to stay current with U of M curricula and the CIS program, to learn about innovative research and developments in the field, network, and share materials. Workshops serve as faculty meetings with course and program development discussions with special attention dedicated to content, pedagogy, assessment, and grading of the college courses.

What happens at your typical student field days?
There are currently no field days planned for students in EE 1701 and EE 1703.

High Schools Offering This Course

Avalon School
Harding High School