TuckLAB: Energy Curriculum

Energy is a vast and complex topic. The TuckLAB: Energy curriculum provides students with an orientation to current trends in energy and in energy-related career options.

Interactive lecture-discussion sessions introduce students to a range of perspectives that are critical to grappling with real-world energy and climate challenges: technology, finance, justice, policy, communication, leadership. Three essential analytic and problem-solving toolkits—systems thinking, design thinking, and climate communication—round out the content.

In addition to 90-minute blocks of interactive instruction, students will participate in a hands-on technology build, a half-day climate change policy simulation, communications training, fireside chats with experts from the field, and a panel of young professionals in energy, climate and innovation.

Energy and Climate Systems from Global and National Perspectives

Global Energy Landscape and Trends

Energy is the engine of society and its production, transportation and consumption connect the global economy at every level. Given the wide variability in policy, regulations, and market structure, this session explores the global and regional energy landscape as a basis for understanding economic and societal drivers in energy production and consumption, as well as key drivers and current trends in new technology deployment.

US Energy Landscape and Trends

The US government does not own or operate the majority of the energy infrastructure in the US. This session explores the energy technology and infrastructure landscape in the US, how it varies among regions, and key actors in policy and regulation of the energy system.

Climate and Society Primer

How are climate and energy interconnected? How is a changing climate impacting societies, infrastructure, and human-well-being? What major energy levers can we pull to minimize the worst impacts of climate change? In this module, students gain insight into critical elements of climate science and how to deploy it effectively in the context of community- and organization-level energy transition work.

Energy and Climate Technology and Policy

Technology Transitions and Implications for Policy

The energy system in the US has evolved over the last 100+ years and was designed in a way that did not take into account the digital innovation age, consumer-producers, or the urgency of addressing climate change. This session builds off of the energy landscape modules and explores evolving technologies in energy production, transportation, carbon capture, energy storage, and the digital and connected infrastructure that accompanies it. Rapid deployment of low carbon technologies at scale will require policy and business model innovation.

Energy & Climate Policy Innovation

What policy instruments are available to guide communities, states, and nations toward low-carbon energy futures? What new approaches to policy are emerging, where are they being adopted, and how can we assess their success? This session increases student fluency in the evolving energy and climate policy space.

Critical Tools: Systems and Design Thinking

Systems Thinking in a Climate-Changed World

The provision of energy services is a complex, socio-technological undertaking even in the most stable of times. Climate change is placing tremendous pressure on that social and technological infrastructure. Systems thinking is a critical approach to help us anticipate how change in one dimension of energy systems may impact another dimension - and enable us to plan and act more effectively.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a multidisciplinary creative problem-solving methodology used to craft innovative, human-centered solutions to complex challenges - a perfect tool in the context of energy, climate, and sustainability. This session introduces students to design thinking and demonstrates how it can be used and adapted to address a varied range of real-world problems.

Organizations and Consumers

Organizational Leadership in Energy, Climate, & Sustainability

The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions result from business and industrial operations. Those entities must be a part of the global mandate to transform our energy systems. There is also an emerging, multi-trillion dollar “climate economy” that will play a leading role in mitigating and helping society adapt to climate change. How are diverse firms and organizations responding to the opportunity to lead in this space? What are the obstacles they must overcome, and where are innovations taking place? This module examines the role of the firm, assesses organizational business models and their exposure to climate change risk, and highlights positive examples of organizations stepping up to the deep challenges of forging a more just and sustainable world.

Marketing & Consumer Behavior

As climate change becomes more urgent, consumers are becoming aware that the choices that they make impact our planet’s health. Critics argue that marketing is part of the problem by encouraging overconsumption of resources. This module addresses the vital and unique role marketing plays in connecting companies, their strategy, products and services in a way that can be measured and can foster greater sustainability throughout society.

Energy Finance

Financing the Clean Energy Economy

This module explores concepts related to finance and the clean energy economy. Topics include investment flows, business models and financial mechanisms to develop and deploy clean energy to market. The module also highlights basic financial models for analyzing opportunities and investment decision making.

Applying Energy Finance Models

This module applies the financing concepts introduced previously, evaluating distributed energy resources and commercial and industrial scale solar and wind development projects in US, and exploring how to leverage financial modeling to drive business decisions. We leverage a basic financial model to review real life case studies in solar, wind, and energy storage development projects.

Energy Justice and Leadership

Introduction to Energy Justice

The costs and benefits of energy systems are not evenly distributed, and marginalized communities often bear a disproportionate share of the environmental, health, and economic burdens of energy generation, distribution, and use. Thus, the transitions our energy systems are undergoing require social as well as technological transformation. This session equips students with tools to recognize the many forms of injustice embedded in our energy systems and illustrates how to craft more equitable solutions for the future.

Personal/Professional Leadership for Energy Transitions (incl ESG/CSR)

Leadership is not the same as authority: it is needed, and can emerge, at any level of an organization. Leading in a time of transition, as we currently face in energy, is particularly challenging, requiring especially keen vision and adaptability. The focus of this module is on identifying key principles of leadership and how students can build them into their personal and professional lives.

Interactive Workshops: Technology, Communication, and Negotiation

Hands-on Energy Technology Workshop

What happens when someone flips a light switch? We don’t often stop to consider what’s behind the switch. Basic awareness of energy technologies provides insight into the complexity of energy devices and infrastructure and illuminates the depth of human resources needed to ensure they function. In this workshop, students delve into the hardware side of energy and reflect on the human implications of technology choices.

Climate Communications Workshop

In the world of advocacy, facts are not enough. Humans are social learners and conform to beliefs that align with socio-political identities. Our neurobiology is hard-wired to respond to evocative storytelling, so for scientist-advocates, stories are a key delivery vehicle for facts. This workshop module helps students identify policy platforms, leverage the ingredients of crafting a story based in fact, and communicate with purpose.

EN-ROADS Climate Action Simulation

Developed at MIT, the EN-ROADS simulation involves participants in a series of negotiations, loosely modeled after a United Nations-type process, with the aim of crafting international policy agreements to counteract climate change. An empirically-based climate and energy system model informs the simulated negotiations in almost real-time.