Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century

01:090:295:01 Index# 15409
Professor Premala Chandra, SAS - Physics & Astronomy
M 01:40P - 04:40P
Tillet Hall, Rm 204
Livingston Campus



What are the main issues associated with climate change without “smoke and mirrors”? What do we as a community know about its possible origins and where do the certainties and uncertainties lie? As global citizens, is there anything we can do about it? In this class we’ll discuss, in non-technical terms, the basics of the greenhouse effect (what is this anyway?). The main goal of the course is for the students to develop the energy literacy “tool kit” necessary to evaluate for themselves arguments presented in public policy discussions of global warming and climate change. A key aspect of the course will be to develop back-of-the-envelope “guesstimation” skills towards addressing energy issues. We’ll end with policy issues, emphasizing what we collectively and individually can do towards helping our current climate situation. Reading: “Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century” by B. Richter. “Big World, Small Planet” by J. Rockstrom and M. Klu Selections from “Guesstimation: Solving the World’s Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin”, by L. Weinstein and J.A. Adam Quantitative dexterity and creative expression, both spoken and written, will be encouraged and developed throughout this course. There will be group problem-solving and regular assignments based on in-class activities, texts and lectures, and each student will write two short essays. Throughout the course of the semester, each student is also expected to work on an independent project; at the term’s end the students will present talks based on these projects and they will write associated reports.

PREMALA CHANDRA's current research interests include frustrated magnetism, dielectric/metallic superlattices, ferroelectricity near quantum criticality and the possibility of new broken symmetries in actinide heavy fermion materials.