Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

Energy Studies Minor Fall 2015 Update


The Energy Studies Minor, currently serving more than fifty students, has made two changes in order to better meet the needs of the students. Rather than label classes as technical or non-technical, the nine elective credits may now be chosen from a pre-approved list that draws from a wide variety of energy-related courses across the University. This change has been made in order to allow participants to craft a program that best meets their future goals.

The second change is in the capstone class, a one-credit course completed junior or senior year. The course has been enhanced to require a hands-on experience along with a series of meetings during which participants interact with the professor and each other to discuss current topics. This is a shift away from a research paper turned in at the end of the semester. In its first semester, the new format is drawing positive feedback from the students, who are now required to attend academic energy events, keep up on energy in the news, and share their experiences with each other in end-of-the-semester presentations.

Two mandatory courses remain the same, “Business of Energy,” taught by the Mendoza College of Business, and “Energy and Society,” taught by the Department of Physics in the College of Science. Students also may continue to participate in one of two seminars offered through the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) in lieu of the capstone class. “Energy, Climate, and Social Change” includes four days in Washington, DC and three at the Narrow Ridge Eco Literacy Center in Eastern Tennessee. The second CSC seminar option is an energy-related seminar based in Appalachia.

The goal of the energy minor is to help students navigate the complexities of the future of energy. One student in the minor observed that many of the engineers in his “Energy and Society” class were very knowledgeable about the technical aspects but didn’t understand the realities of the political climate. In the same way, an understanding of the business opportunities and drawbacks of a shift in our energy future will enable minors to better formulate real change.

For more information about the Energy Studies minor, contact Anne Berges Pillai or visit