Understanding Energy


Stanford School of Engineering

Civil and Environmental Engineering: Understanding Energy


Energy is all around us. It allows us to turn on lights, take hot showers, have cold drinks. It drives new technologies, affects climate change, and impacts our society, political system, and the environment. Energy is also a fundamental driver of human development and opportunity. In this course, you will explore the fundamentals of various energy resources and put these in the context of the broader energy system. You will discover what technologies, policies, and behaviors are changing the way we use energy and develop a greater awareness about the energy flows and systems impact our lives. From rooftop solar to batteries to hydraulic fracturing and more, find out how to become a change agent in developing solutions that improve our energy use patterns. You do not need a technical background to enroll in this course.This course is cross listed with CEE107A, EARTHSYS103.

NOTE for remote Non-degree option (NDO) students

  • NDO students must enroll for 3-units only
  • NDO students are required to do one energy field trip in your local area if not available to join the off-campus field trips
  • NDO students interested in taking this course for four or five units, please reach out to SCPD Customer Service for additional information

What you will learn

  • How to think critically about energy resources
  • How to understand the interactions between energy resources and end uses
  • How to analyze policies and regulations and their social impact
  • How to communicate about energy use and environmental impacts
  • How to make informed energy decisions, from voting to consumption


Prerequisites: Algebra

Topics include

  • Depletable and renewable energy resources
  • Green buildings and energy efficiency
  • Transportation and the developing world
  • Conversion processes and technologies
  • Energy policy and regulation
  • Social, economic, and environmental impacts


Course Availability

The course schedule is displayed for planning purposes – courses can be modified, changed, or cancelled. Course availability will be considered finalized on the first day of open enrollment. For quarterly enrollment dates, please refer to our graduate education section.

Thank you for your interest. No sections are available. Please click the button below to receive an email when the course becomes available again.

Notify Me