A new undergraduate, three-credit college course focused on renewable energy will be offered at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in the spring.

How can society address the challenges presented by global climate change and rising energy costs? Is it possible to stabilize energy prices and carbon dioxide emissions without compromising our standard of living?

Given the tremendous complexity of energy issues, these questions defy simple answers. A new course, ECO 180: Citizens, Energy, and Sustainability will be offered at the Hutchinson Center starting in January 2012 that will inform students about the interrelated elements of the energy system.

Students will learn about energy production, energy use, and energy mandates and their implications, among other topics. Participants will explore how citizens play a vital role in determining the direction of energy policy. Through lectures, discussions, and class projects, students will be able to explore issues of particular interest to them.

This course is co-taught by faculty from the University of Maine School of Economics, Caroline Lundquist Noblet and Dr. Sharon Wagner. Noblet holds a Master’s degree in resource and economics policy from the University of Maine, and a Bachelor of Science in economics from Boston College. She is currently an economics lecturer at the University of Maine.

Dr. Wagner received a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelors of Science in environmental science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is currently an assistant professor in the School of Economics at the University of Maine.

ECO 180 is part of a University of Maine initiative to build curriculum in the field of renewable energy. The University now offers three undergraduate minor courses of study: renewable energy engineering, renewable energy science and technology, and renewable energy economics and policy. These programs are designed to complement nearly any degree.

In the renewable energy minors, students gain understanding of the technology, science, economics, and politics of energy systems, while also acquiring skills that make them more competitive in the growing employment opportunities in this field. Students enrolled in the renewable energy minor also can apply for paid summer internships through the University of Maine-led Deep C Wind Consortium.

The Hutchinson Center course will meet weekly, with a combination of live meetings with instructors and interactive broadcasts from Orono. This course is offered on Monday afternoons from 3:10-5:25 p.m., Jan. 9 through April 30.

For questions about the new University of Maine minor in renewable energy, visit: umaine.edu/renewableenergy or contact James S. Passanisi at james.passanisi@umit.maine.edu or 581-2249. To register for ECO 180 at the Hutchinson Center, call the Hutchinson Center at 338-8038 or visit the Hutchinson Center Science website at: hutchinsoncenter.umaine.edu.