EME 805
Renewable Energy and Non-Market Enterprise

EME 805 Syllabus -


EME 805: Renewable Energy and Nonmarket Enterprise - Summer 2022

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.


Dr. Erich W. Schienke: Lecturer, 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 533.

  • 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?

The primary goal of this course is to provide you with a toolset for characterizing and strategizing how nonmarket forces can shape current and future renewable energy markets. The course approaches the exploration and explanation of key concepts in renewable energy and sustainability nonmarket strategies through evidence-based examples. Main topics for the course include a) a sociological approach to markets, b) renewable energy markets, c) nonmarket conditions, d) complex systems analysis, and e) renewable energy technology and business environments. Nonmarket here refers to those social, cultural, and political conditions, factors, and forces, which are integral to market formation and stabilization but are not considered in market valuations or as part of normal transaction costs. Nonmarket strategies are those that take such conditions, factors, and forces into account when evaluating the present and future state of a given market system. Because renewable energy costs are somewhat to significantly higher than fossil fuel cost per unit of energy, the main arguments in support of renewable energy, thus far, are functionally nonmarket in character, i.e., environmental (e.g., climate change), political (e.g., energy independence), and/ or social (e.g., good stewardship).

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 Canvas and even in the course text. 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 of various renewable energy market systems; and

  • recognize, explain, give examples, choose, and apply key methods and concepts when analyzing and strategizing nonmarket influences in the case of renewable energy.

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

Lesson 1: The Social Foundations of Markets

  1. Identify the elements of markets.

  2. Define market order and economic coordination.

  3. Explain the social dimensions of markets.

  4. Describe the various forms of markets and how markets are bounded.

Lesson 2: Defining and Controlling Markets

  1. Describe and define the key features of standards markets.

  2. Describe and define the key features of status markets.

  3. Analyze for key aspects of market formation.

Lesson 3: Renewable Energy Demands

  1. Define and describe the differences between renewable energy and sustainable energy, and the links between renewable energy and sustainable development.
  2. Describe the environment-energy-prosperity problems energy markets face.
  3. Become familiar with sustainability models and metrics.
  4. Describe principles of sustainable development.
  5. Advanced Option - Level 1: Describe how the principles and/or conditions of sustainable development are likely to shape renewable energy markets.
  6. Advanced Option - Level 2: Apply the concepts from the market readings to describe some of the key features of renewables markets.

Lesson 4: Renewable Energy Options

  1. Detail the different socio-technical aspects of each of the main forms of renewable energy.
  2. Make the connections between climate change and renewable energy.
  3. Describe why climate change will become a significant driver/determinant of renewable energy markets.
  4. List the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of each of the major forms of renewables, i.e., conduct a basic SWOT analysis of RE techs.
  5. Advanced Option - Level 1: Give arguments for why an emissions reduction strategy will depend on RE.
  6. Advanced Option - Level 2: Present an extensive argument for why a renewable energy portfolio needs to be diverse.

Lesson 5: Renewable Energy Evaluations

  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: Environment Impacts and Sustainable Energy Metrics

  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: Corporate Social Responsibility and Managerial Ethics

  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: Nonmarket Strategies

  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.

Lesson 9: Nonmarket Stakeholders

  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: Nonmarket Policy Evaluations

  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: Nonmarket Aspects of Renewables

  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: Constructing Nonmarket Policy for Renewable Energy

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

Final Case: Nonmarket Analysis of a Renewable Project of Your Choice

  1. Determine market conditions.
  2. Estimate projected scale of demand.
  3. Develop a lifecycle analysis for your renewable.
  4. Map the broader energy systems to see connections and contingencies.
  5. Apply SWOT Analysis.
  6. Analyze for nonmarket elements and impacts.
  7. Develop your own nonmarket strategy.

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. No additional materials or proprietary software or data are required for EME 805.

Required texts:

  • Aspers, Patrik. 2011. Markets. Cambridge, UK: Polity. (ISBN-10: 074564578X, ISBN-13: 978-0745645780). Available online through PSU Libraries
  • Tester, Jefferson W. 2012. Sustainable Energy: Choosing Among Options. MIT Press. (ISBN-10: 0262017474, ISBN-13: 978-0262017473). Available online through PSU 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 Students 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 watch the Library Orientation Videos and 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.

  • 10 Weekly Assignments, accounting for 30% of your grade (330 pts / 30 pts each assignment)

You will have weekly assignments based on the principles and content being covered in the readings for that week. The assignments are intended to introduce you to both conceptual and methodological materials, and each week you will have a unique template to complete and upload to the relevant assignments folder in Canvas.

You will be graded on how robustly you engage with each assignment. Each assignment is worth up to 3 points. An “anemic” assignment in which little work or reflection is being done will receive 1 point. An “acceptable” assignment (one that meets the minimum requirements of the tasks) will receive 2 points. A “robust” assignment is one that goes beyond the minimum requirements of the assignment and demonstrates a deeper engagement with the materials; it will receive 3 points. I will give 1 point extra credit for assignments that communicate something exceptional. You can get up to 3 extra credit points, for a total of 33pts, during the term for this collection of assignments.

Students who are diligent about reading the text are likely to perform well on the assignments. Your performance on these assignments will account for thirty percent of your final course grade. Due dates for graded quizzes appear under the Calendar tab in Canvas.

  • 10 Discussion Forum Participation, accounting for 10% of your grade (100pts / 10pt each assignment)

For each lesson, you will have weekly discussion forum entries you will want to have completed before the end of the week (Saturday evening). The purpose of the discussion forum is to help further inform and help you understand the concepts of the course, from each other, as well as from your instructor. Each discussion forum entry should be intended to help clarify as well as to be able to share your questions, experiences, and perspectives on the materials with each other.

  • 1 Mid-term Exam, accounting for 25% of your grade (250 pts)

A single, mid-term (cumulative of lessons 1-6) online exam will appear in Canvas during the sixth/seventh weeks of class. The exam is comprised of 10 multiple choice, 10 brief identification, and 2 essay questions that will cover materials from Lesson 1 through Lesson 6.

  • 1 Final Project Case Study, accounting for 35% of your grade (350 pts)

READ THESE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY: Your final project is the development of a nonmarket analysis of a specific renewable energy scenario you would find most useful for your intended goals. If you are currently at a job or are working towards a specific area of renewables, you are strongly encouraged to develop a work-related project. This project will require you to conduct research (primarily via your Portal and Penn State Libraries extensive collection of online resources), perform tasks, and prepare reports that demonstrate your ability to apply concepts discussed in the course texts.

The case study you will turn in will consist of the following pieces:

  • The necessary completed templates for your project topic, about seven. (All templates, basically worksheets that you fill out, are first encountered and used within the weekly assignments, so there should be no surprises here.)
  • An ~2500 word (8-10 page) analytical paper synthesizing the data gathered from the templates you worked on (mostly from after Lesson 6.)

Case studies are prepared as word processing documents (e.g., Microsoft Word) and uploaded to the instructor via Canvas Assignments. Detailed individual critiques and itemized scores will be provided in response to every student report.

Depending on your previous experience and comfort level with a systems mode of analysis, often requiring thinking across multiple disciplinary spaces and “lateral thinking,” you will find projects to be moderately to highly challenging. The key to success is to pace yourself, pay close attention to the assignments throughout the course, as they will be your key to applying methods in your case study. And, please take the necessary time to write at a professional level. Two to three weeks are provided to complete your final project case study. Due dates appear under the Calendar tab in Canvas.

We expect your project reports to be original. You may build upon ideas, words, and illustrations produced by others, but you must paraphrase, cite, and reference such sources. Reports 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.


There will be assignments to complete in each lesson. The assignments will be "turned-in" via Assignments in Canvas.

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

Lesson Assignment Number Description Points
1 1 Markets question set 1 30
2 2

Markets question set 2

3 3
Energy and Sustainability question set
4 4 SWOT Analysis Matrix 30
5 5 LCA Matrix and Energy Project Costing question set 30
6 6 Environmental Impacts at Scale Matrix 30+30
7 7 Readings and Discussion Only *
8 8 Nonmarket Resources Matrix 30
9 9 Single Target Focused Nonmarket Campaigns Matrix 30
10 10

Nonmarket Policy Survey Template

11 11

Defining Your Nonmarket Policy Template

12 12

Policy Brief Template (graded as part of your final project)



Weekly participation in each Lesson's Discussion Forum (in Canvas) 100

Midterm Exam

A comprehensive exam covering Lesson 1 through Lesson 6. 250

Final Project

The development of your own nonmarket strategy for a renewable energy and/or sustainability project. 350
Total Points 1030


Course grades are awarded based on the cumulative scoring in each of the set of assignments above. There are a total of 100 points available in the assignments, with a half point being the smallest increment. There will be up to five extra credit points available, but the cumulative score will still top out at 100. Finally, letter grades are awarded on the following basis:

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 iMPS 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 Wednesday, initial posts for that Lesson are due on Sunday nights, Lesson assignments are due Tuesday nights, and follow-ups/replies are due by the following Friday nights (9 days later). A list of topics and activities included in the course is presented below. Refer to the course website for specific reading materials recommended for each lesson.

The Midterm Exam will be given during the week of Lesson 7. You can complete the exam at any time during that week, but you will have 24 hours in which to complete the exam once you begin.

Typical Weekly Schedule:
Step 3: Assignments due Step 1: Lessons begin Step 4: Final Discussion Posts Due for Lessons Step 2: Initial Discussion Posts Due for Lessons

EME 805 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

As the schedule may change, please be sure to check it often! If you have a question about when something is due, ask your instructors! NOTE: If at any time you cannot get a reading, e-mail an instructor immediately, and we can send a pdf. We prefer to link to the readings, but links change all the time!

Lesson 1: The Social Foundations of Markets
Topics: The Social Foundations of Markets
  • Chapters 1-4 of Markets by Patrik Aspers
    • Use the Lesson 1 pages as a reading guide for what points to pay specific attention to in the reading. It is probably best to read the Lesson page for that section of readings (e.g., 1.1 covers chapters 1 and 2, while 1.2 covers chapter three.) Also, these Lesson pages are in no way a substitute for doing the readings; they are a guide for helping you put the readings into the context of the course.
Lesson 2: Defining and Controlling Markets
Topics: Defining and Controlling Markets
  • Chapters 5-8 of Markets by Patrik Aspers.
Lesson 3: Renewable Energy Demands
Topics: Renewable Energy Demands
  • Chapters 1 and 6 in Sustainable Energy.
Lesson 4: Renewable Energy Options
Topics: Renewable Energy Options
  • Complete Discussion 4 and SWOT Analysis Matrix of a renewable energy. Be as specific in your analysis as time allows.
Lesson 5: Renewable Energy Evaluations
Topics: Renewable Energy Evaluations
  • Complete Discussion 5 and Lesson 5 worksheet and LCA matrix for a topic of interest.
Lesson 6: Environment Impacts and Sustainable Energy Metrics
Topics: Environment Impacts and Sustainable Energy Metrics
  • Read Chapters 4 and 7 of Sustainable Energy.
  • Complete Discussion 6 and Lesson 6 worksheet on environmental impacts across scale.
Midterm Exam
Topics: Materials from Lessons 1-6
  • Complete the midterm in Canvas. You have 24 hours to complete the MIDTERM EXAM once you begin it.
  • Complete the midterm online in Canvas MIDTERM folder.
Lesson 7: Corporate Social Responsibility and Managerial Ethics
Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility and Managerial Ethics
  • Read Chapter 4 of Understanding Management" Managerial Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility"(.pdf)
  • Complete Discussion 7 and readings.
Lesson 8: Nonmarket Strategies
Topics: Nonmarket Strategies
  • Complete Discussion 8 and Lesson 8 Matrices. Lesson-8-Matrix-SingleTargetFocusedCampaigns.pdf and Lesson-8-Matrix-NonMarketResourcesOvrvw.pdf
Lesson 9: Nonmarket Stakeholders
Topics: Nonmarket Stakeholders
  • Varvasovszky, Zsuzsa, and Ruairí Brugha. 2000. "A stakeholder analysis". Health Policy and Planning. 15 (3): 338-345.
  • Szwajkowski, Eugene. 2000. "Simplifying the Principles of Stakeholder Management: The Three Most Important Principles". Business & Society. 39 (4): 379-396.
  • Crane, Andrew, and Trish Ruebottom. 2011. "Stakeholder Theory and Social Identity: Rethinking Stakeholder Identification". Journal of Business Ethics. 102 (Supplement): 77-87.
  • Jankauskas, Vidmantas, Paulius Rudzkis, and Adomas Kanopka. 2014. "Risk factors for stakeholders in renewable energy investments". Energetika. 60 (2).
  • Complete Discussion 9 and Lesson 9.1 Matrix (Simple Stakeholder Analysis) and attempt a draft of Matrix 9.2 (Social Interests x Stakeholders).
Lesson 10: Nonmarket Policy Evaluations
Topics: Nonmarket Policy Evaluations
  • Fay, Marianne. 2012. Inclusive green growth the pathway to sustainable development. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. NOTE: Read Chapters 1 & 2, and have a look through the rest of the document.
  • Kobos, P.H., J.D. Erickson, and T.E. Drennen. 2006. "Technological learning and renewable energy costs: implications for US renewable energy policy". Energy Policy. 34 (13): 1645-1658.
  • Holburn, Guy L. F., and Richard G. Vanden Bergh. 2014. "Integrated market and nonmarket strategies: Political campaign contributions around merger and acquisition events in the energy sector". Strategic Management Journal. 35 (3): 450-460.
  • Boyd, J. 2007. "Nonmarket benefits of nature: What should be counted in green GDP?" Ecological Economics. 61 (4): 716-723.
  • "Views on the elaboration of non-market-based mechanisms" United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Organization). 2009. Report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention on its seventh session, held in Bangkok from 28 September to 9 October 2009, and Barcelona from 2 to 6 November 2009. [Geneva]: United Nations.
  • Complete Discussion 10 and Lesson 10 Worksheet on Survey of Existing Policy
Lesson 11: Nonmarket Aspects of Renewables
Topics: Nonmarket Aspects of Renewables
  • Siegel, Donald S., and Donald F. Vitaliano. "An Empirical Analysis of the Strategic Use of Corporate Social Responsibility."Journal Of Economics & Management Strategy. 16, no. 3 (September 2007): 773-792.
  • Mathur, I., M. Singh, F. Thompson, and A. Nejadmalayeri. 2013. "Corporate governance and lobbying strategies".Journal of Business Research. 66 (4): 547-553.
  • Yiridoe, Emmanuel K., Robert Gordon, and Bettina B. Brown. 2009. "Nonmarket cobenefits and economic feasibility of on-farm biogas energy production". Energy Policy. 37 (3): 1170-1179.
  • Cardoch, Lynette, and Jr., John W. Day 2001. "Energy Analysis of Nonmarket Values of the Mississippi Delta". Environmental Management: An International Journal for Decision Makers, Scientists and Environmental Auditors. 28 (5): 677-685.
  • Popkin, J.H., J.M. Duke, A.M. Borchers, and T. Ilvento. 2013. "Social costs from proximity to hydraulic fracturing in New York State. "Energy Policy. 62: 62-69.
  • Delmas, Magali A., and Maria J. Montes-Sancho. 2011. "U.S. state policies for renewable energy: Context and effectiveness. "Energy Policy. 39 (5): 2273-2288.
  • Complete Lesson 11 Worksheet on Defining your Policy Proposal. (No Discussion.)
Lesson 12: Constructing Nonmarket Policy for Renewable Energy
Topics: Constructing Nonmarket Policy for Renewable Energy
  • Guidelines for writing a policy brief. (Overview sheets posted in Canvas.)
  • Complete Lesson 12 your Nonmarket Policy Brief. Compile Final Project. (No Discussion.)
Final Project
  • Revise and compile your Final Projects and turn in on Canvas.


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 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.


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 camps 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 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.

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