EME 466
Energy and Sustainability in Society

EME 466 Syllabus SU 2018


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. That said, it is essential that you read the entire document, as well as material covered in the Course Orientation. Together, these serve the role of our course "contract."


Brandi Robinson
Lecturer, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University

Email: Please use the course e-mail system (in Canvas).

I am the lead instructor for this course, working with a team of ESP faculty each semester to provide one-on-one support and guidance for each student project. As project topics evolve, you will be assigned a dedicated ESP faculty coach which may be me or another ESP faculty member depending on the topic of your project. Your coach will be your primary point of contact (via Canvas course email) and will review and grade your work. We strive for these to be productive and satisfying relationships, hopefully fun too! If you have questions or need additional help at any point, please feel free to contact me directly. 

Office Hours: I, and all faculty involved in this course, will check for and reply to messages at least once a day. Monday-Friday. Please contact me or your assigned ESP faculty coach if you'd like to schedule a call or an interactive online meeting. We are all flexible and will make every effort to accommodate your schedule.

Course Overview

EME 466: ENERGY AND SUSTAINABILITY IN SOCIETY (3 credits). Capstone course for Energy and Sustainability Policy Bachelor of Arts Degree

Prerequisites: EGEE 102, EGEE 120 and ECON 104. As a "capstone course," ideally taken in final semester of senior year. (Prerequisites may be waived by the course instructor if you can demonstrate the required level of competency.)

The Capstone Project makes a case for or against a policy, action, plan, or proposal currently in the public arena, of interest to the student and relevant to energy and sustainability policy.

The arc of the project includes a rigorous and in-depth examination of the issue, development of a well-articulated position on the issue, an in-person presentation to an audience engaged on the issue of the student’s findings and recommendations, and a recorded presentation that will be made available on public media (YouTube) and the ESP Program Office website.

EME 466 is conducted entirely online. There are no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments. The course begins with a course orientation that provides important information about the course and the course environment, as well as a quiz covering that information, which you must pass with a 100% to unlock the rest of the course. (You'll be able to take the quiz as many times as needed until you reach 100%.)

There are no formal lessons or assigned readings for this course. The work in this class is a student-directed project culminating in a written report, in-person presentation, and recorded presentation. The student will select an ESP-relevant policy topic, that is current and of personal and professional interest to the student, as the subject of this semester-long project. (Topic selection is the student's responsibility, subject to the instructor's guidance and approval.) The purpose of this course is to encourage the student to draw upon a wide breadth of prior ESP course work in the performance of in-depth research and analysis and subsequent development of well-supported and well-argued recommendations.

The completed Capstone project consists of a set of well-defined deliverables submitted at regular intervals throughout the semester. Due dates for all capstone deliverables are posted on the course calendar in Canvas, including the due dates set by each student in the first part of the Written Report (Project Plan).


On average, most students will spend ten to twelve hours per week working on course assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your prior experience and the nature of the project topic you have selected. The nature of the project is such that the work load may be quite variable from week to week.

In this project, you will be interacting in the real world on a real policy issue. You will encounter the unexpected, and things will change. This is how the world works. It is your job to keep the project on track and to manage challenges as they arise. You will need to plan ahead and be resourceful. You will need to stay in touch with all people, events and organizations on which your project relies so that you can anticipate and manage changes. Meeting project due dates is your responsibility.

You are expected to approach this project eagerly, with genuine curiosity and enthusiasm! You are representing yourself, but also the Energy and Sustainability Program and Penn State. Be polite, prepared and deeply attentive. This is a terrific opportunity to learn and to meet new organizations and people--you may make contacts that you value for years to come.

Course Goals and Learning Objectives

Congratulations! If you are registered for this course, you are very near completion of your degree in Energy and Sustainability Policy. The goal of this course is to provide a culminating experience where you apply the knowledge, skills and methods acquired through your studies in the mastery of an energy and sustainability policy topic of your own choosing. In what is, hopefully, a deeply satisfying and rewarding experience, you will work independently to discover fully the science, technology, economics and politics underlying the topic you have chosen. You will identify stakeholders, engage with others, form your own well-supported position, and seek opportunities to participate publicly.

With the successful completion of this cours, you will be able to:

  • perform fair and balanced research on current energy and sustainability policy issues
  • form well-supported and reasoned positions on current energy and sustainability policy issues
  • perform and present rigorous analysis (both quantitative and qualitative)
  • prepare written reports on research findings
  • present position arguments clearly, both in writing and orally
  • approach and engage others, including subject matter experts and stakeholders, who have vested interest in current energy and sustainability policy issues
  • plan and present recommended actions in support of a policy position, including coalition building and non-market strategies

Required Course Materials

All materials needed for this course are presented in our course website and in Canvas. No textbook is required. In order to take this course, 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 World Campus.

Using the Library

Just like on-campus students, as a Penn State student you have a wealth of library resources available to you!

As a user of Penn State Libraries, you can...

  • search for journal articles (many are even immediately available in full-text)
  • request articles that aren't available in full-text and have them delivered electronically
  • borrow books and other materials and have them delivered to your doorstep
  • access materials that your instructor has put on Electronic Reserve
  • talk to reference librarians in real time using chat, phone, and e-mail
  • ...and much more!

To learn more about their services, see the Library Information for Off-site Users.

Assignments and Grading

The EME 466 Capstone Project consists of a defined set of deliverables, including the project topic (submitted for pre-approval), a Project Plan, a Written Report, an In-Person Presentation Report, a Recorded (Video) Presentation, weekly journal entries, group discussions and an updated LinkedIn Presence. Full details and grading criteria for each deliverable are described on individual pages of this course website. To locate, use navigation links on this page.

    See our Citation and Reference Style Guide for details about how to cite resources.

    Deliverables are weighted as follows:

    Course Deliverables
    Deliverable Percentage
    General Area(s) I am Considering 0% (required first step)
    Capstone Project Topic 0% (approved topic required before submitting additional course work)
    Written Project (4 sections at 10% each) 40%
    In-Person Presentation Report 25%
    Recorded (video) Presentation 15%
    Weekly Journal (12 at 2% each) 12%
    Group Discussions 3%
    LinkedIn Presence 5%

    All grades will be recorded in the Canvas gradebook.  Overall course grades will be determined as follows. Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned. To meet ESP program requirements, a C or higher is required. There is no rounding up and there is no extra credit.

    Letter Grade Percentage
    Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

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

    EME 466 Course Schedule

    imagePrintable Schedule

    This course follows the Penn State Academic Calendar for the current term. In keeping with the individualized, project nature of this course, there are no weekly lessons, assigned readings or assessments. Specific due dates are given in the Canvas course calendar.

    EME 466 Schedule
    Time Frame Project Item
    WEEK 1

    Initial Posting to Group Chat I

    Journal Entry 1

    WEEK 2

    General Idea(s) I am Considering

    Final Posting(s) for Group Chat I

    Journal Entry 2

    Week 3

    Project Topic

    Journal Entry 3

    Week 4 Written Report Section 1: Project Plan

    Journal Entry 4

    Week 5 Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    Initial Posting to Group Chat II

    Journal Entry 5

    WEEK 6

    Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    Final Posting(s) for Group Chat II

    Journal Entry 6

    WEEK 7

    Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    Journal Entry 7

    Week 8

    Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    LinkedIn Presence

    Journal Entry 8

    Week 9

    Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    Initial Posting to Group Chat III

    Journal Entry 9
    Week 10

    Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    Final Posting(s) for Group Chat III

    Journal Entry 10

    Week 11

    Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    Journal Entry 11

    Week 12 Complete and submit all deliverables, per your individual Project Plan

    Journal Entry 12

    Course Policies

    Late Policy

    Due dates for all Capstone Project deliverables are posted on the course calendar in Canvas, including the due dates set by each student in the first part of the Written Report (Project Plan).

    The nature of this project, especially the requirement for an in-person presentation, may present scheduling challenges in some cases. If you believe that an adjustment to your project schedule is necessary, due to unforeseen circumstances or because it would be somehow helpful to the quality of your project, please contact your assigned ESP faculty. The earlier you contact your coach the better. Keeping a project on track is an important part of the project! On the other hand, we do understand that this is the real world and some circumstances are beyond your control. Handling these situations well, is part of good project management too. Work submitted after your published deadline without advanced rescheduling approved by your project coach will be subject to a 10% per day late penalty.

    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 HelpDesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service 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.

    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 Student 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 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 to others whom you do not know.

    Participation in Peer-to-Peer Activities

    This course follows the Energy and Sustainability Policy programs' Constructive Participation in ESP Peer-Peer Activities policy for student participation in peer-to-peer activities in ESP courses, such as group discussions, team projects and peer reviews of another’s work. In all peer-to-peer learning activities, students are expected to participate constructively with others in the practice and development of effective communication skills. This means NO personal attacks, NO name calling, and NO threatening language of any kind. Consequences may include losing the opportunity to participate in (and earn credit for) all remaining peer-to-peer assignments for the duration of the course. Any instance of threatening language will be reported to the Penn State Office of Student Conduct.


    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.


    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.