EGEE 120
Oil: International Evolution

EGEE 120 Syllabus


EGEE 120, Oil: International Evolution (Spring 2024)

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document. It is essential that you read the entire document. This serves as our course "contract."


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Ed Piñero

Contact: Canvas Inbox
Office Hours: By appointment only
  • Email: Please contact me through the Canvas course email system in Canvas or
  • Other Contact: There is no office to visit at University Park; however, you can arrange a meeting (online) with me. Contact me via the course email system in Canvas. 
  • Announcements: in Canvas, Includes other information that will help you with the course.
  • Grading: Usually have grades back to you within a week of when it was due. 


I will read and respond to email and discussion forums at least once per day during the work week (Monday through Friday). You may see me online occasionally on the weekends, but please don't count on it! If you would like to "meet" online, please give me options for scheduling.

Class Support Services

Penn State Online offers online tutoring to World Campus students in math, writing, and some business classes. Tutoring and guided study groups for residential students are available through Penn State Learning.

Course Overview

Description: EGEE 120 (GS;US or IL) Oil: International Evolution (3) Review of the commercial development and impact of the world petroleum industry from various international, historical, business, and cultural perspectives.

Course Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses


What I Expect of You

On average, most students spend about ten hours per week working on course assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits.

Self-driven coursework using the Internet may still be a novel learning environment for you, 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.

Quality sources, and credit to any source used in your submissions. Any Academic Integrity Issue will be forwarded to the department for review. Possible sanctions include a zero on the assignment, a letter grade reduction, and/or a Failing grade in the course. If you quote, you need to cite. When in doubt - ask me. You cannot ask too many questions.

Course Designation in Curriculum

The course is required for the BS in Energy and Sustainability Policy degree program. It may also be used to satisfy the General Education US or International Cultures (US or IL) and Social and Behavioral (GS) requirements.

Effective Communication – the ability to exchange information and ideas in oral, written, and visual form in ways that allow for informed and persuasive discourse that builds trust and respect among those engaged in that exchange, and helps create environments where creative ideas and problem-solving flourish.

Global Learning – the intellectually disciplined abilities to analyze similarities and differences among cultures; evaluate natural, physical, social, cultural, historical, and economic legacies and hierarchies; and engage as community members and leaders who will continue to deal with the intricacies of an ever-changing world. Individuals should acquire the ability to analyze power; identify and critique interdependent global, regional, and local cultures and systems; and evaluate the implications for people’s lives.

Course Goals and Outcomes

The course has three goals:

  1. First, it seeks to introduce students to the historical development of the oil industry and how oil has impacted every aspect of mankind since its discovery.
  2. Second, it attempts to develop critical reading and thinking skills through weekly readings and discussion of those readings.
  3. Third, it aims to help students improve their skills in analysis and communication of the socio-economic, political, technological and cultural impact of oil as a commodity through the regular writing, project work, and topical discussion assignments.

For the General Education US and International Culture (US or IL) domain, the course will help students to:

  • see nations and cultures not in isolation, but in relation to each other;
  • cultivate awareness of the diversity within international cultures;
  • convey consideration for different cultural values, traditions, beliefs, and customs;
  • increase knowledge about the range of cultural achievements and human conditions through time;
  • be more sophisticated in understanding the nature of stereotypes and biases;
  • be able to interact successfully with representatives of other nations & persons of different social groups;
  • increase the ability to locate and evaluate information, and to gain knowledge, about other peoples of the world.

For the General Education Social and Behavioral (GS) knowledge domain, the course will help students achieve the following:

  • broadly survey the existing knowledge in the discipline;
  • develop the students' understanding of the scientific methodologies of social and behavioral sciences;
  • develop an understanding of the multiple nature of causality in social settings;
  • relate to other social and behavioral sciences;
  • integrate empirical knowledge and theoretical views of the social world.

By the end of the semester, students will have a broad understanding of oil and its pervasive impact on society over the years, better writing ability, and improve critical reading and thinking skills. This general education course will provide a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding how oil affects international relations and commerce. The relationships between oil technology, social and political institutions and the unique cultures in oil-producing regions will be investigated.

Specific learning objectives for each lesson are described on each lesson overview page. The class schedule is published below as part of this syllabus page.

Required Course Materials

  • Required Textbook: The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power, by Daniel Yergin
  • Required Textbook: The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World, by Daniel Yergin
  • Required Software: Yellowdig Discussion Platform - cost: $12.95 for the semester

Assistance with Textbooks

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, please contact your academic advisor. For additional needs, related to socioeconomic status, please visit Project Cahir or visit the Office of Student Care and Advocacy at 222 Boucke Building or call 814-863-2020.

All other materials needed for this course, except for the required textbooks, are presented online through Canvas. In order 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 (Assessment Tools)

To reach course goals, online notes, discussion of the readings and videos, and writing receive reasonable amounts of time. To assess student learning and progress towards the three goals, you will be required to participate in a variety of course activities and assessments. Please see the descriptions for each of these items below. 

Readings and Discussions

Readings and subsequent discussions or writing are important elements of EGEE 120. You must keep up with the readings; students who do not are in danger of failing the course. On average, we will cover about three-four chapters of the book per week. You are encouraged to read ahead of each lesson if possible. The weekly reading forms the basis of the topical discussions and participation assignments. It is essential that all students do the readings.

Quizzes and Exams

Weekly readings, lesson material, and videos are the basis of the weekly quizzes (15% of the final grade) and the two exams, Mid Term & Final, (25% of the final grade). Quizzes are made available to take any time from Thursday at 5pm EST until the following Tuesday at midnight EST. Details for the exams will be shared well ahead of when they are taken.

Class Participation (Yellowdig) and Discussion

Participation is an essential part of the EGEE 120 experience and is 20% of the grade. “Participation” means that students must engage in the course by participating actively in the weekly participation assignment. Each Participation assignment allows you to illustrate knowledge evaluated from an individual lesson.  


Four homework assignments, which total 20% of the final grade, include an infographic assignment, two "Analyze a Quiz Question" assignments, and a personal reflection assignment. 

Unessay Project

For this project, students will be asked to consider how significant moments in the history of oil and its impact on society have shaped the global economy, political dynamics, and the lives of private citizens. The project has three parts: a proposal, the unessay, and a presentation (sharing) opportunity.  

Weight of graded elements on course grade
Graded Element % of Grade
Weekly Quizzes  15%
Two Exams  25%
Participation/Discussions 20%
Homework 20%
Unessay Project 20%

Final course grades will be determined based on points earned in these elements. So that you know where you stand, all grades will be posted in Canvas with each assignment. You will be able to track your progress and calculate your average as the course goes along.

Letter grades will be based on the following percentages:

Breakdown of letter grade percentages
Letter Grade % Range Assigned Grade
A 93–100% 100
A- 90–92.9% 91.5
B+ 87–89.9% 88.5
B 83–86.9% 85
B- 80–82.9% 81.5
C+ 77–79.9% 78.5
C 70–76.9% 75
D 60–69.9% 65
F <60% <60%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student. ”Assigned Grade” is the score students receive for a letter grade on an assignment, exam, or quiz.

EGEE 120 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Below, you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course is fifteen weeks in length. Each lesson is nine days long (Monday - next Tuesday) with overlap with the next lesson on Monday and Tuesday. See our Calendar in Canvas for specific lesson time frames and assignment due dates.

EGEE 120 Course Content and Schedule
Week Lesson Reading & videos Activities
Week 1

Lesson 1: The Rise of American Oil and the Competitive International Industry Portions of The Prize

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 1
Review: Welcome module and Lesson 1 Materials

Complete: your Personal Introduction and the Academic Integrity Module

Sign up for Yellowdig and participate in the first discussion
Week 2

Lesson 2: Standard Oil Trust and the Oil Wars Portions of The Prize

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 2
Review: Lesson 2 Materials

Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Complete: Quiz 1 (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight)
Week 3

Lesson 3: Asian Oil Development and World War I Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 3
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Homework Assignment: Analyze a Quiz Question
Week 4 Lesson 4: Middle East Oil Development & the Rise of Automobiles & Gasoline Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 4
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Quiz 2 (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight)
Week 5


Lesson 5: Boom and Bust Cycles

Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 5
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Homework Assignment: Analyze a Quiz Question
Week 6
Lesson 6: Oil Strategy and World War II Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 6
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Quiz 3 (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight)
Week 7 Mid Term
Covers The Prize chapters 1-20, portions of The Quest, Lessons 1-6,
No new lesson material this week Mid Term Exam (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight)
Week 8 Lesson 7: WW II and Post-war Order Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 7
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Homework Assignment: Infographic
Week 9 Lesson 8: Post-war Petroleum Order and Crises Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 8
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Quiz 4 (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight)
Week 10 Lesson 9: The Hydrocarbon Age Portions of The Prize & The Quest The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 9
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Unessay Project proposal submission
Week 11 Lesson 10: OPEC Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 10
Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Quiz 5 (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight)
Week12 Unessay Project week No new lesson material this week Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Unessay Project submission
Week 13 Lesson 11: Supply Disruptions, Price Shocks & Oil Market Trading

Portions of The Prize & The Quest

The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 11

Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Homework Assignment: Reflection
Week 14 Lesson 12: Crisis in the Gulf, Mergers, New Provinces and Oil since The Prize Portions of The Prize & The Quest The online lesson notes

The connection video for Lesson 12
Weekly Yellowdig Participation Unessay Project Presentation
Week 15 Study week No new lesson material this week Weekly Yellowdig Participation

Quiz 6 (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight)

Course SEEQ Evaluation
Final Final Exam  Review Lessons 7 - 12 Final Exam - (available Thursday 5pm EST until Tuesday midnight during Finals week)

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 email or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request, before the Final Exam opens. 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.

Make-up exams

There will be no make-up quizzes or exams.  Alternative ways to make up the points will be offered throughout the semester.

Late Policy

All course-related assignments, quizzes and exams must be completed by the assigned date. Five percent (5%) of your grade for a course assignment will be subtracted for each day late. Late completions must be by prior arrangement, request must be sent 12 hours before the due date time. Example if due at midnight EST, must email Karen before noon EST.

Citation and Reference Style

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

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State 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 procedures 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 Academic Integrity Training 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 Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources 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 documentation guidelines at 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.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency campus disruptions or closures 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 these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride in fostering 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.

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 well-being.  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 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

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.

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 to others whom you do not know.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus 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 IT Service Desk (for World Campus students) or Penn State's IT Help Portal (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 the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported. If you use any other browser, or if you are not using the latest version of your browser, some pages containing equations may not render properly. In addition, javascript must be enabled for equations to render properly. If you have any issues with equations not rendering properly, please update your browser to the latest version or try using a different browser. If you need additional technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If, for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.

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:


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.

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 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 to you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.