EBF 200
Introduction to Energy and Earth Sciences Economics


EBF 200 Syllabus


EBF 200: Introduction to Energy and Earth Science Economics

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Course Orientation. Together these serve as our course "contract."

Christopher J. Jablonowski, PhD. Adjunct, Energy Business and Finance, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

E-mail: I will read and respond to Canvas e-mail and discussion forum posts at least once per day during the work week (Mon - Fri), and during most weekends.

Note: Please use Canvas for all e-mail communications with course faculty (See the Canvas Inbox). You will receive the quickest response if you use Canvas.

Office Hours

If you would like to schedule a call please send an email and we will coordinate a workable time. Also, I encourage you to write your question in discussion forums first (it might be other students' question as well) and also read the discussion forums regularly. You might be able to find your answer or other helpful materials there.

Course Overview

EBF 200 (GS): Introduction to Energy and Earth Sciences Economics (3)—Resource use decisions and their effect on local, national, and global development.
Prerequisites: ECON 102 and MATH 022

This class is a course in microeconomic fundamentals with a focus on the applications of economics to energy and environmental markets. In the course, we introduce the economic method of analysis to the environmental and resource questions facing society. It introduces a "paradigm"—a way of thinking—that has four elements:

  1. What advantages can be gained by using market forces?
  2. What are the drawbacks of the market (“market failures") that may lead to a rationale for government intervention?
  3. What are the drawbacks of using government intervention ("government failure")?
  4. How do you apply these three concepts to real-world situations?

As a result of this class, students are expected to be able to synthesize information to better appreciate the complexity of modern resource policy. In addition, they are expected to be able to make more informed judgments on the nature and relative seriousness of these issues.

EBF 200 will be conducted entirely on the World Wide Web. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments. The content of this course is divided into 13 lessons. Each lesson will be completed over a weekly period. Lesson learning activities take the form of readings, discussions, quizzes, and exams.

What I Expect of You

On average, most students spend seven to nine hours per week working on the course. Your workload may be more or less depending on your prior experience with computing and the Web in general and with economics in particular.

The course designers and instructors have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet is still a novel learning environment, but, in one sense, it is no different than a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with me, as well as with your fellow students.

Specific learning objectives for each lesson and project are detailed within each lesson. The class schedule is published in Canvas (the course management system used for this course).

Required Course Materials

Textbook Option #1: Microeconomics: Private and Public Choice, 14th Edition, by Gwartney, Stroup, Sobel and MacPherson. 12th or 13th Edition of the book can also be used. You will find that the textbook can be purchased as a hard copy (new or used), or via online access. I will refer to this book in the reading assignments as "Gwartney et al."

Textbook Option #2: Principles of Microeconomics, Greenlaw et al. (Openstax). This book can be purchased as a hard copy or downloaded for free as a PDF. I will refer to this book in the reading assignments as "Greenlaw et al."

Reading assignments are specified for each Lesson in Canvas. You can find many other economics education resources online, and you may find these to be helpful to reinforce the concepts presented in this course. Lesson material and any additional reading assignments for this course are presented online through this Course Website and in Canvas. To access all materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach HelpDesk.

Assignments and Grading

There are 13 lessons in this course. There will be 10 quizzes, 10 homeworks, one mid-term, and one final exam. Your grade in EBF 200 will be based on the total number of points you accumulate. We consider 100 points to be a perfect score. You earn points this way:

  • Weekly Quizzes (16 points)
    There will be 10 multiple choice quizzes in this course. Each quiz is worth 2 points. We will count the 8 highest scores (out of the 10) and add them together, so you can get up to 16 points from quizzes. The quizzes will be open for seven days every week of a unit: 12:00 a.m. on Monday morning -- 11:55 p.m. on Sunday night.

  • Weekly Homeworks (30 points)
    There will be 10 homeworks in the form of essay and problem solving questions. Each homework is worth 3 points so there will be total of 30 points from homeworks. The homeworks also will be open for seven days every week of a unit: 12:00 a.m. on Monday morning -- 11:55 p.m. on Sunday night.

  • Mid-term Examination (24 points)
    There will be a mid-term exam which will be worth 24 points. The mid-terms will cover material from lessons 1-6.
  • Comprehensive Final Exam (30 points)
    The final exam will be worth 30 points. The final exam is cumulative, meaning that it covers the entire course. The best way to do well on this exam is to stay current with all the material, and to carefully review the feedback I provide in the weekly unit quizzes, homeworks, and mid-terms. The final exam will be similar to the quizzes and homeworks, but will not repeat exactly the same questions.
  • Discussion Forum Participation (2 extra points)
    One of the features of this course is a discussion forum. Use the course Discussion Forums to get to know one another, work together, and learn from one another. It’s a special opportunity. You’ll learn more, enjoy the course more, and probably make a better grade. The designated Discussion Forums provide a place where you can work together to surface problems and questions and give me the chance to redirect or provide additional information if needed. You are welcome to write your questions and topics or add your thoughts and answers to the questions or topics of other students. You will be graded at the end of the semester on the quantity and quality of your contributions (posting and also replying) to the Discussion Forum. I recommend you read the forums regularly and I would like the forum to be a place where we all exchange ideas about the interaction between the course material and the real world. 


  • Check your answers carefully: On quizzes, homeworks, exams, or other things handed in, please check your answers before you submit them electronically. Materials submitted online are graded in the same way as any other course submissions--we grade what you submit. If the answer is D but you chose C, the answer is wrong.
  • Computer Connections: You are also responsible for your computer connection. If you were driving to campus to take an in-class exam, the instructor would not come out to get you if your car broke down. If you are taking an online quiz and your apartment's wireless goes down, the situation is the same. Thus, you should find a good, solid connection.
  • Scheduling your time: Since all assignments rely on technology, we strongly recommend that you plan to take the quiz early in the time period provided so that if you encounter any technical problems, they can be resolved in time. Note that quizzes "auto-submit" when the allocated time is up (e.g., at the end of 30 minutes for a 30 minute quiz). The quizzes, homework, and the mid-terms all really do close at 11:55 p.m., so, if you start to take a quiz at 11:50 p.m., you will have only 5 minutes—don’t wait! 

These elements will be weighted as a percentage of your course grade as follows:

Weight of graded elements on course grade
Assignment Weight
Weekly quizzes (8 @ 2% each)
Multiple choice questions. Drop the lowest two grades
Weekly Homework (10 @ 3% each)
Essay and problem solving questions. 
Discussion forum participation 2% (extra)
Mid-term exam 24%
Final exam 30%

Grades for each assignment will be posted in Canvas.

Final letter grades will be based on the following percentages:

Letter Grade Percentage
A 93–100%
A- 90–92.9%
B+ 87–89.9%
B 83–86.9%
B- 80–82.9%
C+ 77–79.9%
C 70–76.9%
D 60–69.9%
F < 60%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student.

NOTE: Grades will not be curved. Put your best effort into all of the assignments as you complete them.

EBF 200 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Below you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. Each lesson is one week long.

NOTE: For Current Course details, please visit Canvas for updated schedule.

Course content and schedule
Unit: Week Topic Content Assignments
Week 1 Orientation
  • Complete the Course Orientation

Orientation Quiz

Initial Course Survey

Introduce Yourself

Unit 1:

Week 1

Lesson 1: Thinking about economics
  • What is economics, and why study it?
  • Individual rationality and the economic way of thinking
  • Positive and normative questions

Lesson 1 Quiz

Lesson 1 Homework

Unit 1:

Week 2

Lesson 2: Markets: Demand
  • Market structures
  • Supply and demand
  • Elasticities

Lesson 02 Quiz

Lesson 2 Homework

Unit 1:

Week 3

Lesson 3: Markets: Supply
  • Production functions
  • Cost structures
  • Investment decisions

Lesson 03 Quiz

Lesson 3 Homework

Unit 2:

Week 4

Lesson 4: Market dynamics
  • Wealth created by markets
  • Causes and effects of demand curve movements
  • Causes and effects of supply curve movements

Lesson 04 Quiz

Lesson 4 Homework


Week 5

Lesson 5: Market power
  • Perfectly competitive markets
  • Market power and monopoly
  • Other forms of market power

Unit 2:

Week 6

Lesson 6: Other market failures
  • Barriers to entry
  • Price discrimination
  • Information market failure

Lessons 5 and 6 Quiz

Lessons 5 and 6 Homework

Unit 3:

Week 7

Lesson 7: Externalities and Environmental Economics
  • Public goods and common pools
  • Externalities
  • Valuing environmental goods


Lesson 7 Quiz

Lesson 7 Homework

Unit 3:


Lesson 8: Government Failure
  • Public Choice Theory
  • Bureaucracies and power
  • Rent seeking and regulatory capture

Unit 3:

Week 9

Lesson 9: Government intervention

  • Approaches to addressing market power
  • Price controls and their effects
  • Trade controls and their effects

Lessons 8 and 9 Quiz

Lessons 8 and 9 Homework

Unit 4:

Week 10

Lesson 10: Topical Issues: Climate change and carbon policy
  • The economics of Climate Change
  • Climate Change controversies
  • Reducing carbon emissions

Lesson 10 Quiz

Lesson 10 Homework

Unit 4:

Week 11

Lesson 11: Topical issues: Resource scarcity and energy security
  • Resource scarcity
  • Energy security and independence
  • Replacing oil

Lesson 11 Quiz

Lesson 11 Homework

Unit 4:

Week 12

Lesson 12: Topical issues: Changes in the electricity business
  • The fundamentals of electricity markets
  • Environmental regulations and coal-fired generation
  • Renewable Portfolio standards
  • The future of nuclear power

Lesson 12 Quiz

Lesson 12 Homework

Week 13 Lesson 13: The Resource Curse
  • Natural resources and economic development
Lesson 13 Discussion
Finals study and exam Final Exam Review, Study and Complete
  • Review time, opportunity to direct any final questions to instructor
  • Office Hours will be available for assistance

Final Exam will be available

Course Policies

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

Late Policy

All course-related assignments, quizzes and exams must be completed by the specified due date unless alternate arrangements have been made in advance. In special circumstances, full or partial credit can be earned after the due date, but this will occur only in exceptional circumstances. 

Citation and Reference Style

Please use APA citation and format style. Info can be found at Purdue's Online Writing Lab.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site which means that your connection is encrypted.  We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted.  This is called mixed content.  By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.  This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed.  Follow the directions on our technical requirements page to view the mixed content.


This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), Chrome (0.3 or later), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browser, there will be pages containing equations that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: Contacts for Disability Resources at all Penn State Campuses. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources (SDR) website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation, see Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Inclement Weather

In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:

Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct and Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.


Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.