EME 805
Renewable Energy and Non-Market Enterprise

EME 805 Syllabus


EME 805: Renewable Energy and Nonmarket Enterprise - Summer 2023


Dr. Erich W. Schienke: Assistant Teaching Professor, John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, and Sustainability Management and Policy Option Leader in the Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (Online Masters and Graduate Certificates Program); and Ethics Co-Leader for the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, The Pennsylvania State University. He is also the author and instructor of BIOET 805.

  • Course e-mail: Please use the course e-mail system (see the Discussions tab in Canvas).
  • Personal e-mail: ews11@psu.edu
  • Availability: I check e-mail daily and am available for a live chat on an appointment basis.


Please contact your instructors through the course e-mail system in Canvas (see the Canvas Discussions tab). Always send correspondence to All Course Faculty to ensure that any course assistants also receive the note.

Course Overview

Description: Renewable Energy and Nonmarket Enterprise
Prerequisites: None.

What is EME 805?

So much has changed over the past decade with regards to how organizations approach sustainability along with their use of energy. For start, one hardly sees the term "nonmarket strategy" in useanymore, as the market has become much more savvy with how it addresses what it wants from organizations in terms of sustainability measures and reporting. In this course we will cover topics that I think are going to be more directly relevant to potential clients and employers.

We will begin by looking at how markets already have many "nonmarket" characteristics built into them and how markets are fundamentally socially constructed. (Here, "nonmarket" mainly to refer to features of the market that are not readily captured in neoliberal economic theory.)  We will then look at how the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the mid-80s paved the way for what we now tend to refer to as measures of a publicly traded companies Environment Social Governance (ESG) features and how this shapes perceptions of a company's value above and beyond their stock price alone. Then, we move on to do a deep dive into the "eight skills" that are needed for being a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) and how the role of sustainability officers can move an organization forward. Then, while ESG measures are mainly the concern of publicly traded companies, we will look at other options for sustainable organizations like B-Corps and C-Corps and the role they play particularly for smaller firms and localized enterprises. Finally, we will bring the course to a close with looking at what's on the horizon for sustainable organizational development and how things like an organization's emissions along the whole supply chain need to be at the forefront of our immediate next steps. 

Like other courses in our online programs, EME 805 is a "paced" course. "Paced" means that the course has a start date, an end date, and a weekly schedule of activities and assignments. However, students are free to study at times most convenient to them; you never have to log in at a particular time or place. The course lasts fourteen weeks, plus an additional week for orientation prior to the official start date of the course. Assignment due dates are posted in a course calendar which students access in the University's online course management system, Canvas (canvas.psu.edu). See the "Assignments" section of this syllabus for more information.

Along with the course calendar, registered students will find online assignments, a gradebook, communications tools and other useful features in Canvas. For more information about the course environment, see the "Course Management System" section of the course Orientation.

Although the class never meets face to face, you will find that there are plenty of opportunities to interact with instructors and fellow students in Yellowdig, a coursewide discussion platform, through tools in Canvas and even in the course texts. One of the most interesting aspects of the class is that students tend to have a lot of professional experience to share. See the "Communication" section of the course Orientation to review all the ways in which you can get, and stay, in touch. Whether you have a question or a comment, you can expect to receive a reply from instructors or fellow students within 24 hours – often sooner.

What will be expected of you?

Most students report that they devote eight to twelve hours per week working on course activities and assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your prior experience with computing and the Web in general, with nonmarket analysis, and with reading pace.

My colleagues and I have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The World Campus is 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 instructors and fellow students.

Course Objectives:

The overall goals of EME 805 are to enable students to:

  • demonstrate comprehension of how markets are constructed, constrained, and governed;
  • map out the key details various ways makets measure and engage sustainability; and
  • recognize, explain, give examples, choose, and apply key methods and concepts when analyzing and strategizing for an organization's sustainability goals and measures, particularly in relationship to energy and emissions.

The particular objectives of each lesson and project assignment are outlined below.

Lesson 1: The Social Construction of Markets

  1. Identify the elements of markets.
  2. Define market order and economic coordination.
  3. Explain the social dimensions of markets.
  4. Describe how the market is probably the best place to work out social values.

Lesson 2: The Rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

  1. Identify and describe the key points in the historical development of CSR.
  2. Describe and define key features of CSR.
  3. Analyze for key aspects of how CSR has impacted market behaviors.

Lesson 3: How CSR became to be know in terms of Evironmental Social Governance (ESG) measures

  1. Define and describe the differences between CSR and ESG.
  2. Describe the historical development of ESG measures.
  3. Identify where and how ESG measures are currently being implement, particularly in the energy industry.

Lesson 4: ESG measures

  1. Define and describe the Environmental; 
  2. Define and describe the Social;
  3. Define and describe the Governance aspects of ESG strategies.

Policy Position Paper 1: taking a position on CSR and ESG 

Lesson 5: Ensuring regulatory compliance and ESG monitoring and reporting (The 8 Responsibilities of Chief Sustainability Officers)

  1. Identify the various stages of an energy life cycle.
  2. Estimate and valuate the necessary scale of energy demand.
  3. Identify basic energy and material balances as well as the technical essentials of a project.
  4. Evaluate the economics of a renewables project.

Lesson 6: Overseeing portfolios of sustainability projects and embedding sustainability into processes and decision making (The 8 Responsibilities of Chief Sustainability Officers)

  1. Identify the local, regional, and global environmental effects of energy.
  2. Distinguish between environmental harms versus benefits of energy.
  3. Categorize the various effects of energy production on water and land use.
  4. Locate the main body of policies that assess environmental impacts of energy projects.

Lesson 7: Managing Stakeholder relationships and building organizational capabilities (The 8 Responsibilities of Chief Sustainability Officers)

  1. Historically summarize the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement.
  2. Connect aspects of CSR with the trend towards nonmarket strategies.
  3. Provide arguments for why ethics are a major aspect of nonmarket strategies.

Lesson 8: Fostering cultural change and scouting and experimenting (The 8 Responsibilities of Chief Sustainability Officers)

  1. Distinguish between market and nonmarket forces.
  2. Collect initial information on nonmarket conditions and events.
  3. Identify and describe the political, socio-cultural, and environmental nonmarket conditions of an energy scenario.
  4. Analyze for potential market impacts of nonmarket forces.

Policy Position Paper 2 - writing a Sustainability Plan as a CSO

Lesson 9: The rationale for B/C-Corps, i.e. to B-corp or not to B-corp?

  1. Identify primary, secondary, and key stakeholders of nonmarket campaign.
  2. Differentiate between various interests of stakeholders.
  3. Evaluate the stakeholder conditions for a renewable energy.
  4. Comprehend how stakeholder interests can drive nonmarket conditions.

Lesson 10: Building up to a B/C-Corp

  1. Evaluate existing policy options.
  2. Identify possible market shortcomings to guide policy directions.
  3. Provide arguments for the functional dimensions of your proposed policy.

Lesson 11: Designing policies for sustainability, the energy transition, and beyond

  1. Provide the nonmarket arguments for renewable energy.
  2. Investigate the political, socio-cultural, and environmental nonmarket conditions for an integrative strategy.
  3. Distinguish between nonmarket opportunities and harms avoided.
  4. Draw on cases and examples for possible nonmarket opportunities in a renewable energy project.

Lesson 12: Implementing policies for sustainability, the energy transition, and beyond

  1. Compose a policy brief based on a common template.

Policy Position Paper 3 - To B-Corp and Beyond!

Required Course Materials

To participate in EME 805, you need access to the Internet, the course texts, and access to Penn State's course management system, Canvas. The course texts are available for purchase both in hard copy and in electronic versions. Access to Canvas (and to course instructors) requires a Penn State computing account, which registered students acquire by paying an annual technology fee. Also, you will be using an external web portal of some sort, but only those that require no fee for service. 

Required texts:

  • There are no required textbooks for this course. All readings will be drawn from professional, academic, and industry journal articles relevant to the topics of the lesson. Available online on Canvas and through PSU Libraries and are accessible using your PSU ID to log into the libraries. 

All other materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in 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 ITS Service Desk.

Using the Penn State Library

To be sure you are able to access reserve readings and other library resources in this course, visit the library’s Online Student's Use of the Library site. This guide outlines all that Penn State libraries offer you as an online student. It is strongly recommended that you visit the Services for Students page.

If you have questions, just ASK! a librarian! The ASK! page will connect you to librarians in a manner that meets your needs; e-mail, phone, or chat for a quick response.

Technical Requirements and Help

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. Registered students can request technical support from World Campus HelpDesk for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at University Park and all other campus locations).

Weekly Assignments and Grading

Registered students earn academic credit at Penn State by completing the following assignments. Assignment instructions are published at the corresponding site in the Canvas course management system.

12 Weekly Discussion assignments in Yellowdig, accounting for 50% of your grade (12000 points, 1000 points possible each week)

Class, we will be using groups to tackle the main articles for each of the seven modules. Your group can be found in the People tab in the Canvas folder.

The groups will be automatically generated and consist of ~10 students each. You will have the same groups all semester. For each module, Group 1 will discuss the first article, Group 2 will discuss the second article, and Group 3 will discuss the third article as listed in the module. I have created a number of tags that we will use to keep our conversations organized. When you post to Yellowdig for a specific module, you will use a minimum of three tags; group number, module name, and the name of the article your group is reviewing.  

 For example, from Lesson 1.

  • Group 1 posts will discuss the article about 1.1 The Social Construction of Markets and will use the two Topics tags GROUP 1, SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MARKETS, and SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MARKETS: SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF… for each of their posts.
  • Group 2 posts will discuss the article about 1.2 Knowledge and Valuation in Markets and will use the two Topics tags GROUP 2, SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MARKETS, and SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MARKETS: KNOWLEDGE and VALUATION for each of their posts.
  • Group 3 will discuss the article about 1.3 Why the Market and will use the Topics two Topics tags GROUP 3, SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MARKETS, and SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF MARKETS: WHY the MARKET for each of their posts.

By the end of the Lesson, each group should have: 

  • a thorough description of the premise/purpose of the article, 
  • the conclusions/findings of the article, 
  • the sources/citations used by the author(s), 
  • and the issues the article points to as next steps for further research or inquiry. 
  • read and comment on at least a few of the posts from the other groups. 
  • NOTE: You are encouraged to read, comment on, and respond to any or all of the posts from the other groups at any time. 

    Here are some ways you can earn points in your community:

    Point Earning Rule


    Creating a new Post with minimum 100 words 280
    Commenting on another user's Post with minimum 35 words 210
    Receiving a Comment from another user 70
    Receiving a Reaction from another user 55

    I will also be awarding “Accolades” to good posts and comments, so keep an eye out for the badges!

3 Policy Position papers accounting for 50% of your grade. (12000 points total, 4000 points possible each paper.)

The purpose of your three policy position papers:

The purpose of a policy position paper is to present a clear and concise statement of an organization's or individual's stance on a particular policy issue. It serves as a persuasive document that outlines the goals, objectives, and proposed actions related to a specific policy matter.

The reason for learning how to write policy positions in this course is so that you gain the practice needed to be able to craft a convincing argument for either developing a new process, taking a new position, adopting new measures, and incorporating new goals into an organization.

Here are some (not all) key purposes of a policy position paper:

Advocacy: The paper aims to advocate for a particular policy position, presenting arguments and evidence to support the stance taken. It seeks to influence policymakers, stakeholders, and the public by presenting a well-reasoned and compelling case for the proposed policy.

Clarity and Focus: A position paper helps to bring clarity and focus to a complex policy issue. It outlines the organization's or individual's perspective, clearly defining the problem, proposed solution, and desired outcomes. By providing a concise and comprehensive overview, it helps to ensure that all stakeholders have a common understanding of the issue.

Stakeholder Engagement: Position papers facilitate engagement with stakeholders, both internal and external. They provide a platform for initiating discussions, gathering support, and building coalitions around a specific policy position. By sharing the paper with relevant parties, it encourages dialogue, feedback, and collaboration.

Decision-Making: Policy position papers are often used in decision-making processes. They can be presented to policymakers, government officials, or organizational leadership to influence their decisions on policy matters. The paper outlines the rationale behind the proposed policy and presents the potential benefits, risks, and trade-offs associated with it.

Information Dissemination: Position papers serve as a means to disseminate information about a policy issue and the organization's or individual's stance on it. They can be shared through various channels, such as websites, social media, or direct distribution to stakeholders, to raise awareness and educate the public about the topic.

Documentation: Position papers provide a written record of an organization's or individual's position on a policy issue at a specific point in time. They serve as a reference document that can be referred to in future discussions, negotiations, or policy development processes. By documenting the stance and supporting arguments, they help maintain consistency and coherence in advocacy efforts.

Overall, the purpose of a policy position paper is to clearly articulate a stance on a policy issue, provide persuasive arguments and evidence, engage stakeholders, and influence decision-making processes related to that issue.

The length of each position paper should be between 1500 to 2000 words. You can go longer, but try to stay concise. (You probably will not want to go much under 1250 words... otherwise something will probably be lacking or under described.) The words in the citations/bibliographies do not count towards that total word count.  

Citations are required. I am not so much concerned with which citation format you use, I prefer Chicago 17th editionLinks to an external site., but you can use whatever you like as long as you are consistent across your citations for each paper. If you are relatively new to figuring out proper citation formats, please review the PSU Libraries Citation GuidesLinks to an external site..

How your policy position papers will be graded (i.e., the grading rubric):

Your policy position papers will be graded according to whether and to what degree the following components are incorporated. Literature reviews are to be submitted via the Canvas assignment link for the module as a word doc or pdf, preferably. (4000 pts total per each paper. Three papers in total. 12000 pts altogether.)

  • A description of the history of the problem at the center of the position. The history of the problem which should include A. Background of the Problem, B. Current Status of the Problem, and C. Importance of the Problem.  (750 pts)
  • A definition of the problem at the center of the position. The definition of the problem should include a A. Statement of the Problem, B. Statement of Methodology Used in Your Analysis, C. Identification of Stakeholder Involved, and D. the Impact of the Problem. (1000 pts) 
  • An analysis of alternative solutions and policies to the problem. The analysis should include A. Listing of Alternatives Considered, B. Comparison of Alternatives, and C. Detailed Description of Constraints, Including Political. (750 pts)
  • A robust description of policy recommendations. The recommendations should include A. Description of Policy Recommendation(s), B. Rationale for Recommendations, C. Plan for Implementation, and D. Provisions for Monitoring and Ongoing Evaluation (1000 pts)
  • Is the paper clearly and coherently written? Are there A. Proper Citations and Formatted Bibliography, B. Proper Use of Syntax and Semantics, and C. Readable Formatting for a Communication Document (500 pts)

There is an expectation that you will improve over time. I expect feedback given to be incorporated in future policy position papers and will deduct more points for those missing elements moving forward. That being said, I will also do my best to grade based on self-improvement over time rather than how well you've matched the best examples of the assignments submitted across all students.

We expect your policy position papers as well as your Yellowdig posts to be original, i.e. originating from you and not another source or Artificial Intellegence enhanced process. You may build upon ideas, words, and illustrations produced by others, but you must paraphrase, cite, and reference such sources. Policy papers that contain unacknowledged contributions by others are considered to be plagiarized. We use the plagiarism detection service Turnitin.com to evaluate the originality of students' work. Detailed guidelines about how to prepare an original report are included in the "Academic Integrity Guide" that appears in the Resources section of the course text.

Assignments and Course Schedule

There will be discussion assignments to complete in each lesson. The assignments will be accessed via Yellowding in the Canvas folder for the course.

It is recommended that the first thing a student does before beginning lesson readings is to review the week's materials and assignments.

WEEK LESSON/Assignment Number Description Points
1 1 Yellowdig discussion 1: discuss in teams 1000
2 2

Yellowdig discussion 2: discuss in teams

3 3
Yellowdig discussion 3: discuss in teams
4 4 Yellowdig discussion 4: discuss in teams 1000
4 Paper 1 Policy Position Paper 1: taking a position on CSR and ESG 4000
5 5 Yellowdig discussion 5: discuss in teams 1000
6 6 Yellowdig discussion 6: discuss in teams 1000
7 7 Yellowdig discussion 7: discuss in teams 1000
8 8 Yellowdig discussion 8: discuss in teams 1000
8 Paper 2

Policy Position Paper 2 - writing a Sustainability Plan as a CSO

9 9

Yellowdig discussion 9: discuss in teams

10 10

Yellowdig discussion 10: discuss in teams



Yellowdig discussion 11: discuss in teams 1000


Yellowdig discussion 12: discuss in teams 1000
12 Paper 3 Policy Position Paper 3 - To B-Corp and Beyond! 4000
Total Points 24,000


Course grades are awarded based on the cumulative scoring in each of the set of assignments above. Letter grades are awarded on the following basis of percentage of total points earned during the semester:

Letter Grades and Points
A 93 - 100
A- 90 - 92.5
B+ 87 - 89.5
B 83 - 86.5
B- 80 - 82.5
C+ 77 - 79.5
C 70 - 76.5
D 60.0 - 69.5
F < 60

Assignment Due Dates

The Certificate Program in RESS and the MPS RESS degree program were designed specifically for adult professionals who need to study part-time while they work full-time. We expect that students will occasionally encounter scheduling conflicts (Instructors do too!). When conflicts arise, students should notify instructors and request deadline extensions. Reasonable requests are granted without penalty.

Unless otherwise indicated, Lessons begin on Monday, final Yellowdig posts for that Lesson are due on the following Sunday nights. Policy position papers are due every fourth Sunday nights). Refer to the course Canvas folder for specific reading materials recommended for each lesson.


If you have a question regarding an activity due at 11:59 one evening, I must receive your question via Canvas e-mail no later than noon, Eastern Time, on that day. Queries sent after noon, Eastern Time, on the day an assignment is due may not be responded to, so please don't procrastinate!

Course Policies

Late Policy

Late homework accepted under the following circumstances: (1) if prearranged with the instructor; (2) if the result of a documented emergency; or (3) if documented illness (see PARTICIPATION AND ATTENDANCE SECTION below). The exam will be a zero unless these conditions are met. Other excuses are not valid.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of academic integrity. DO NOT copy and paste from unreferenced sources. Without exception: if you use a direct quote from any source, as part of any submitted assignment, the quote must be clearly noted and properly referenced. (In-line references are fine.)

Citation and Reference Style

Penn State Citation and Writing Guide


Communicating effectively is one of the challenges of the online environment. It is important to practice this skill during this class and to remember the importance of presenting yourself in a professional manner whether it be online or not, i.e., using the same care for spelling and grammar as you would in any other written assignment. Refer to "Netiquette: The Rules of the Internet"(link is external) for guidelines on courteous communications and "Style for Students Online" for guidelines on writing style.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

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.

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).

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.

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.


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 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.