Our Energy Future

This course is all about energy: what it is, how it is produced, the positive and negative effects, and renewable energy technology. Experts from UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and industry will explain concepts and present information on this important topic. Come learn all about energy and what our future holds!

About The Course

This course is designed to introduce students to the issues of energy in the 21st century – including food and fuels – which are inseparably linked – and will discuss energy production and utilization from the biology, engineering, economics, climate science, and social science perspectives. 

This course will cover the current production and utilization of energy, as well as the consequences of this use, examining finite fossil energy reserves, how food and energy are linked, impacts on the environment and climate, and the social and economic impacts of our present energy and food production and use. After the introductory lectures, we will examine the emerging field of sustainable energy, fuel and food production, emphasizing the importance of developing energy efficient and sustainable methods of production, and how these new technologies can contribute to replacing the diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, and reduce the consequences of carbon dioxide release into the environment. This course will also cover the importance of creating a sustainable energy future for all societies including those of the developing world.  Lectures will be prepared and delivered by leading UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography faculty and industry professionals across these areas of expertise.


  • Dr. Yuri Bazilevs (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Jennifer Burney (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Steven Briggs (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Michael Burkart (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Dan Cayan (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
  • Dr. Carlos Coimbra (UC San Diego)
  • Commissioner Karen Douglas (California Energy Commission)
  • Dr. Susan Golden (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Josh Graff Zivin (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Mich Hein (Nidus Partners LP)
  • Dr. Richard Herz (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Mark Hildebrand (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
  • Dr. Mark Jacobsen (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Alissa Kendall (UC Davis)
  • Dr. Stephen Mayfield (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Robert McBride (Sapphire Energy)
  • Dr. Gordon McCord (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Tom Murphy (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Brian Palenik (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
  • Dr. Robert Pomeroy (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
  • Michele Rubino (Beta Renewables)
  • Dr. Bob Schmidt (SG Biofuels)
  • Dr. Richard Somerville (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)
  • Dr. Laurie Smith (UC San Diego)
  • Dean Mark Thiemens (UC San Diego)
  • William Torre (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. George Tynan (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. David G. Victor (UC San Diego)
  • Dr. Alex Zahnd (RIDS-Nepal)

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

Can I earn a Verified Certificate for this Course?
Yes. This course is eligible for Verified Certificates to students who are signed up for Signature Track.

Can I earn academic credit for this course?
Yes. If you would like to receive continuing education credit for participation in the course, you can obtain it through UC San Diego Extension via a companion course. The companion course has a fee and builds upon the information presented in this course. This course can also be used towards the UC San Diego Extension Biofuels Science or Processes Certificate.  For more information about earning credit for this course, please visit UC San Diego Extension.

(NOTE: To be successful in the "for credit" version, students must have enrolled in the MOOC before the 5th week of the course. The "for credit", companion course will begin in week 6 of the MOOC. Enrollment in the "for credit" version is recommended by this time, and no later than week 7. This ensures that students do not fall behind in course assignments and evaluations that are issued in the "for credit" version. Students must also provide proof of the "Statement of Accomplishment" issued at the end of the MOOC.)

Recommended Background

No prior coursework in the subject is required; however, it is highly recommended to have a working knowledge of High School level math, and College level introductory biology and chemistry.