EM SC 470
Applied Sustainability in Contemporary Culture

Instructor Information


Dan Kasper

Hi, everyone! My name is Dan Kasper, and I will be your main instructor for this course. I am very much looking forward to working with all of you this semester! 

A Little About Me

I grew up in a very small town in Central Pennsylvania (Milesburg) about 10 miles from State College – believe it or not, the townsfolk are still waiting for their first stop light. I enrolled at Penn State with the intention of becoming an engineer, but after trying out a few majors ended up deciding on Earth Science because it interested me the most.After earning my BS at University Park, I spun my wheels for a few years bartending (at the now closed Gingerbread Man) and working at the Center for Environmental Informatics at Penn State. I focused mostly on basic Geographic Information Systems (GIS) work at the latter job. I continued to use GIS throughout my academic career. After a few years, my wife and I moved to Denver, Colorado, where I earned my MA in Geography from the University of Denver. My wife and I think very fondly of our time in Denver because we absolutely love the scenery, the people, and the active lifestyle there. (And we really miss the music scene as well.) I also spent some time in a Ph.D. program at the University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP). In my time at CEEP, I have engaged in a number of research projects, including analyzing a sustainable energy future for South Korea, a policy report on promoting personal food production in Delaware, and designing an energy education workshop series focusing on helping low and fixed income individuals take control of their energy use, among other topics. I now lilve in Wilmington, DE, very close to the Pennsylvania border with my wife and two daughters (now 11 and 7).

I worked as a curriculum designer and project manager for a weatherization training center in Philadelphia (focusing on low-income clients), and continue to consult in the energy efficiency and energy management fields, and serve on a few non-profit boards (mostly focusing on low income advocacy). I currently teach full time in the Energy and Engineering Department at Delaware Technical Community College in Newark, Delaware. We offer degrees in Energy Management and Renewable Energy Solar, and I teach courses for both degrees. While at Delaware Tech, I have taught courses in Sustainability, Residential and Commercial Energy Efficiency, Human Geography, Renewable Energy, Solar Design, Energy Accounting, and Energy Investment Analysis. I currently lead a team of students in performing ASHRAE Level II energy audits.

two men standing in nacelle of wind turbine
Your fearless instructor in the nacelle of a 50m tall wind turbine in Denmark (I am on the left). In the background is a quintessential Danish countryside.
Credit: D. Kasper

I love to travel and am the International Education Coordinator for my campus at Delaware Tech. I took students to Denmark a few years ago for a renewable energy course (here is my blog from the trip, if you are so inclined) and took students to Switzerland in 2015 (see my blog about that experience if you're interested), 2016, 2017, and 2019. I took students to Italy for a Sustainability class in 2018, and had planned on returning in the spring of 2020, but then Covid hit. I hope to return to either Italy or Switzerland in 2023, or perhaps on a Service Learning course in Costa Rica. I have taken a few Penn State students with me on these experiences, as the associated course transfers to Penn State and may satisfy your foreign studies requirement (it definitely does for ESP majors!). If that is something you are interested in for future years, please let me know. I have been to Europe a number of times, and have traveled to various parts of the U.S. as well.

In the summer of 2019, I took Penn State students to Colorado for a CAUSE experience. This year's course will be very similar, but with a few new locations and site visits. Here is a really cool virtual tour that one of the students put together (note that you can page through scenes at the bottom of the image). The scenery was incredible, and the people we visited were inspiring. Here is the itinerary

 A group of Penn State students standing in front of mountain scenery with a Penn State flag
One of our site visits in Colorado was a micro-hydroelectric (micro-hydro) installation on an off-grid home in Paonia, Colorado. Click on the image for a larger view.
Credit: D. Kasper

My academic, professional, and personal focus has for a long time been on figuring out ways to live more sustainably and helping others to do the same while doing what I can to advocate for and establish socially just and ecologically responsible ways of living. I have helped establish multiple community gardens, and am a firm believer in harvesting the grassroots power of communities (sorry for the double pun). Over the years, I have realized that getting something done is mostly a two-step process: 1) Find like-minded people who also want to get it done. 2) Do it! There are, of course, a lot of devils in the details, and you don't always end up getting what you desired, but the journey is always worth it! I have served on a number of college and civic committees, all of which focused on various aspects of sustainability.

I have worked since I was very young and worked throughout college. I know that many - if not all - of you are working and have families, and believe me, I can relate. I had my first daughter early in my Ph.D. program. You wouldn't believe how many papers I've written with an infant on my lap! Please know that I commend you for your decision to continue your education with so many other things begging for your time. I hope I can be helpful to you on this leg of your academic journey.

One of my favorite quotes is: “Climb to the top of the mountain so you can see the world, not so it can see you” (unknown author). I hope that this course, and I, can help you take some steps closer to whichever mountain top you are trying to reach.

Haley Sankey

Haley Sankey

My professional path to ESP

I am a faculty member for the online Bachelor of Arts in Energy and Sustainability Policy, instructing EGEE 495: Internship Experience, EGEE 299: Foreign Studies, and EM SC 302: Orientation to Energy and Sustainability Policy. Previously, I worked as a licensing coordinator assisting hydroelectric utilities navigate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s cooperative licensing agreement process. I helped foster stakeholder involvement, a critical component for successful license submission and approval as well as supported habitat and water quality study efforts. I also recently served as the Southern Alleghenies Regional Energy Coordinator, completing energy audits and educating municipalities on energy reduction and savings opportunities.

I received my master’s degree in project management from the Penn State Black School of Business, and my undergraduate degree from Juniata College, where my program of emphasis was environmental practice and policy.

Your instructor as a person

Although I have lived elsewhere on the east coast, I have always called central Pennsylvania home. In my free time, I like to travel. My love for experiencing other cultures is the result of a semester spent in Kerala, India during my undergraduate days. While there, I completed 18 credits of coursework, including Indian environmental law and Bharatanatyam dance. Since then I have been fortunate enough to visit many places, but I still have a lot of destinations on my bucket list! In the meantime, I have been hiking and backpacking as much as possible in the United States. I also kayak, ski, hunt, fish, and love to cook whenever I can find the time.