Our Global Energy Future

Full Course Title: 
Our Global Energy Future
Course Number: 
Section Number(s) and Day/Times Taught: 
135: MWF 9:00-9:50AM
Fall 2017
Global Issues

Our world is faced with a challenge: how do we simultaneously meet growing global demand for energy without exacerbating the harmful effects of climate change?  How do we successfully transition from a world powered by non-renewable, polluting resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas, to one powered by clean, renewable energies such as wind, solar, and biomass?  Is such as transition even feasible? 

In order to answer this, it is helpful to look to the past before exploring the future.  How did the US transform from a small group of colonial settlements into the world’s energy powerhouse in only 200 years?  How did a heated battle between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla determine the future of global energy production?  How has energy use influenced and been shaped by technology, culture, economics, politics, etc.?  What can we learn from past energy transitions that may be of value in fostering our own transition to a renewable future?  

Applying what we learn from the past, we will later explore a variety of energy plans outlining how the US and the rest of the world can successfully make a transition.  How much of our energy can we derive from wind and solar?  Are biofuels a viable alternative to fossil fuels?  What about electric vehicles?  How do renewables address national security needs?  Do we need a carbon tax?  Students will learn how different renewable energy technologies work and more importantly, how socio-political and cultural factors might act as catalysts or barriers to their implementation.  We will also examine other more controversial technologies, such as: nuclear, fracking, clean-coal, and geo-engineering.  This course will culminate in a group project where students will take what they have learned and develop their own energy plans, which will be defended in a series of mock climate summit debates at the end of the semester.


Kevin Gamble received his B.A. in Religious Studies from Appalachian State University and went on to complete a M.S. in Appropriate Technology, with a focus on sustainable waste management and bioenergy.  Kevin’s current research interests include: sustainable energy technologies, energy transitions, energy policy, nuclear power, the role of technology in society, and futurism. 

Kevin is of the mind that an interdisciplinary approach is essential in understanding complex technical issues and their larger role in society.  He teaches through the application numerous fields of inquiry including: historical, sociological, political, economic, psychological, and technical methods and theories towards garnering a greater understanding of the role of technology, particularly energy, in society.  A firm believer in the importance of a well-rounded education, he encourages his students to think outside of their individual disciplines.

A North Carolina native, Kevin has lived in the High Country for the past 10 years.  When not teaching, researching, or traveling, he can usually be found at home with his wife, two dogs, and their ever-growing flock of chickens.  He also enjoys reading sci-fi, gardening, tending his compost, and brewing up new batches of homebrewed beer.

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Rick Klima

QEP Global Learning