Fundamentals of Shale Energy Development: Geology, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Environmental, Geopolitical and Socio-economic Impacts

EARTH 109: Fundamentals of Shale Energy Development: Geology, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Environmental, Geopolitical and Socio-economic Impacts

Video: Class Introduction with David Yoxtheimer (1:04)

Click here for transcript of Class Introduction with David Yoxtheimer.

Hi, I'm Dave Yoxheimer and I'm going to be your instructor for Earth 109, The Fundamentals of Shale Energy Development. As you see, I’m out here in the beautiful north-central part of Pennsylvania in the Tiadaghton State Forests, and behind me is Little Pine State Park. On the ridges around me, there's actually been a fair amount of shale energy development that's occurred. So one of the tricks of balancing our need for energy, yet our need for recreation, is to have appropriate regulations, and appropriate engineering, and appropriate policies in place to make sure that the energy we need is developed in a socially responsible way, as well as an environmentally responsible way.

Throughout the semester we'll look at shale energy development for many perspectives, including the geology, the technology, the environmental implications, the social implications, the policy, the regulation, the legality, and really give you a full-blown picture of what shale energy development is all about. So I welcome you this semester and I look forward to getting to know you each better.

Credit: Dutton

Course Overview

You are about to embark upon a journey into the science behind energy production and use through the lens of shale energy development.  We begin with Rules of Engagement. Rules of Engagement are necessary to create effective learning environments in educational settings, group discussions, and civil dialogue. The course contains 12 lessons, each designed to be completed within 9-10 hours. You will engage in the learning process not only through reading materials provided to you, but also through watching videos, completing exercises, and answering questions to check your understanding. We encourage you to share what you learn with others. Although we frame our educational lessons within the context of shale energy development, with a focus on the Marcellus shale, our goal is to help increase science literacy and hone critical thinking skills so that you can apply them to other important issues as well.  Some of the content in this class is based in part on a Penn State National Science Foundation STEM project known as Marcellus Matters: Engaging Adults in Science and Energy (EASE). The program curriculum focused on energy and energy systems, the scientific process, social and economic impacts, and communication skills to enhance citizens' abilities to engage in civil dialogue around contentious topics.  We'd like to acknowledge Dr. Michael Arthur, Terry Noll, Nooreen Meghani, Dr. Seth Blumsack, and Dr. Tim Murtha for their original efforts on the EASE project, which we are incorporating elements of in this class. 

  • Instructor: Dave Yoxtheimer, Assistant Research Professor.
  • Course Structure: The course consists of 11 educational modules, each designed to be completed in 8-10 hours.
  • Overview: This course examines various aspects of science and energy development, geology, engineering, environmental issues, societal impacts of boom/bust cycles, and understanding the mechanisms of constructive conversation.