Puerto Rico Experience

ENER 37002 - Puerto Rico: Road Map to a Renewable Future (1-credit, S/U)

Course Description:

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the island’s energy infrastructure was destroyed. The lack of electricity in rural areas for months following the storm contributed to thousands of post-hurricane deaths. As the island rebuilds, there are calls for replacing the fossil-fuel based centralized grid with renewable microgrids, making use of abundant solar, wind, and water resources. This course will explore the complications of such a seemingly simple solution.

This course consists of eight weekly classes and a fall break immersion in Puerto Rico. Students will learn about the opportunities and challenges that exist when communities attempt to reduce their carbon footprint. Students will study the technological challenges and consider the economic, political, historical, and ethical issues unique to Puerto Rico.

In weekly classes before the trip, participants will meet with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora; review a non-technical survey of energy options and the social and economic ramifications of each; and examine their own life styles and enter into frank discussions about choices made on a daily basis that affect the environment.

The week on the island will be split between San Juan and the mountain town of Adjuntas. The main goal will be to gain insights from those caught in the struggle of rebuilding; the hard choices they must make and the complicated, sometimes messy path they are trying to forge. In Adjuntas, students will engage with the staff of an award winning community center, Casa Pueblo. This organization, led by Arturo Massol Deyá and his father Alexis Massol Gonzalez, has united much of the community around environmental stewardship. Other learning opportunities will include visits to historical and cultural sites, interaction with local college students, and conversations with community leaders in San Juan and Adjuntas.

When students return from Puerto Rico, they will complete a final project that will engage them as active citizens by sharing what they have learned, encouraging others to make better energy choices in their own lives.

For more details, read the syllabus

Course Enrollment and Online Application:

Only a small number of students will be selected to participate in this course. All undergraduate students may apply. Students already enrolled in the Energy Studies Minor may choose this course to fulfill their Capstone requirement. Interested students must enroll in ENER 37002 AND complete the online application at the link below. The deadline to complete the application will be announced at a later date. To complete the online application, click here (the application process is closed).

For More Information

The following story introduces the ENER 37002 capstone course and the inaugural group of students who traveled to Puerto Rico and experienced what it's like to navigate the political, cultural, and technological challenges of implementing renewable energy. Other details can be viewed in the Fall 2019 Post-trip Summary. For questions or more information, contact Anne Berges Pillai.

Navigating the Road to Renewable Energy