Energy, Climate, and Social Change

Social Concerns Seminar
CSC 33985

This course will examine the complex narratives around the role of energy in society and its relation to the current climate change discussion. Focusing on various policies and practices and how those shape our global energy context, students will consider hopeful solutions toward a more sustainable energy and climate model. For the first four days of the immersion students will meet in Washington, DC with a wide spectrum of industry leaders, government officials, regulatory agencies, and environmental advocacy groups in their efforts to resolve contemporary energy and environmental issues. The latter portion of the trip will be spent in eastern Tennessee at Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center—engaging a community that lives out a sustainable and thoughtful approach to life.

The course will utilize selected readings, writing assignments, class lectures and discussions, and a week-long immersion (Washington, DC, and Washburn, Tenn.). During their time in Washington, DC, students will learn to assess the strengths and weaknesses of alternative energy technologies (wind, solar, geothermal, fuel cells, ethanol, improving fossil fuel utilization, etc.), and of the various policies and economics surrounding energy and climate. Students will identify the limitations of current energy policies and environmental regulation through visits to industry lobbying groups, policymakers and government officials, environmental organizations, and federal regulatory bodies. Finally, students will begin to understand the relationship between energy consumption and environmental ethics, especially as understood in Catholic social tradition

Location: Washington, DC and eastern Tennessee

Immersion Dates: October 19–25, 2019.

The fall 2019 seminars are football friendly.

Things to Note:

  • As part of participation in a seminar, we seek to live intentionally and simply during the immersion. This may look different in each seminar and site. For example, some sites allow fewer showers, others may have simpler sleeping arrangements, meals will be healthy and simple, please be flexible. We ask that you take the opportunity to invest fully and embrace the change of pace and amenities.
  • You will receive more specific details from your site leader during preparation classes.
  • Most meals will be prepared by your team or in conjunction with your hosts at your site. Meals are provided throughout travel to and from your immersion location. You will have a limited budget for meals which will be enough to eat simply and be well nourished.
  • Site leaders will be liaison with community partner contacts.
  • Lodging varies depending on the site, please be flexible. You will likely be responsible for your own bedding. Please plan ahead for this as most seminar students will need to bring a sleeping bag.
  • You must participate in all class sessions and entire immersion in order to complete requirements for the course. Immersion implies over-night stays on site. If you miss any class for any reason you will be responsible for making the class up.
  • Fall 2019 class sessions will be held on Tuesdays from 4:00–5:30 p.m. September 17-November 12
  • This seminar counts as either a Catholic Social Teaching Minor seminar designated as CSTS or a Poverty Studies Minor experiential attribute, PSCE.
$300 charged to your student account upon completion of the seminar. Contact Greg White ( for inquiries regarding financial assistance. Full seminar fee will be charged for all withdrawals after September 24, 2019.
Application Process: 

Final Application Deadline: Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 11:59 p.m. 

  • Application process consists of two parts: (1) Completed application and (2) Interviews (you will be notified about interviews via email)
  • You cannot register for the seminar until you receive registration information from Seminars staff.
  • Notification of seminar placement will happen between September 2 and September 6, 2019.

  • If you are not selected for participation in your first choice of seminars, you will be given the opportunity to participate in another seminar if there is still availability.
  • No admittance into the seminar after the first class
  • By submitting the application, you confirm you are in good academic standing.
  • With questions about your application, email

The fall 2019 application is not available at this time. 

Associated Term: 
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Upcoming Events

March 2019

2019 Catholic Social Tradition Conference
Saturday, March 23, 2019 - 8:00am to 4:30pm
Documentary Film: Los niños de María
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 7:30pm
Puerto Rico Faculty Seminar Panel
Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 11:00am to 12:30pm
Labor Café
Friday, March 29, 2019 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

April 2019

Film Screening: Icebox
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 5:00pm
Postgraduate Service: AmeriCorps Panel
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 5:30pm
Been & Seen Series: Listening to Uganda
Friday, April 5, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Higgins Lunchtime Labor RAPS
Friday, April 12, 2019 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Labor Café
Friday, April 26, 2019 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

May 2019

2019 Service Send-Off Ceremony
Saturday, May 18, 2019 - 1:30pm to 2:00pm

June 2019

Community Engagement Faculty Institute
Tuesday, June 4, 2019 (All day) to Thursday, June 6, 2019 (All day)