New online degree focuses on both energy and sustainability

July 20, 2010

University Park, Pa. — The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has forever altered how Americans view oil as an energy source. While America will need oil for years to come, interest in cleaner, renewable energy technologies is growing, and so is the demand for new policies that enable them. In addition, a 2010 report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers found the clean energy provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are expected to create more than 700,000 “green jobs” by 2012. These jobs will require a workforce that understands the technologies and can negotiate policies for energy and sustainable practices in the energy field. A new Penn State program aims to prepare people for a role in policy making and communications.

For information on the online bachelor of arts degree in Energy and Sustainability Policy, visit online.

“Our goal is to develop students who understand the energy industry and what it will take to transform it into a sustainable structure,” said Jeffrey R. S. Brownson, program officer for the new degree program and assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS). “Graduates with communication skills, a facility with global business strategies and analysis, and an understanding of the energy industry and sustainability will be in high demand.”

David DiBiase, director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute in EMS, said, “Many adult learners around the country aspire to careers that will help achieve a more sustainable energy future. We’re proud to make a quality Penn State education available to them wherever they live and work.”

Students can develop energy industry knowledge, a sustainability ethic, analytical and communication skills and a global perspective. The program focuses on client-stakeholder relations, integrative design and decision making for energy solutions, market and nonmarket business strategies in the energy field, and data visualization techniques. Seven new courses are being developed for the program.

“Concerns about global climate change, environmental and economic stability, and energy resource security are driving the need for sustainable planning and policy making in the energy industry as well as in government,” Brownson said. “Our alumni in the energy industry are telling us ‘Washington [D.C.] is waiting for graduates’ of this program.”

Michael J. Orlando, principal of Economic Advisors Inc. and adjunct professor of finance at Tulane University, is one of these Penn State alums. A 1988 bachelor of science graduate in petroleum and natural gas engineering, Orlando said federal agencies “need people who know the nuts and bolts of energy markets and environmental issues, but also understand how these pieces fit together -- how the various interests involved in global energy markets intersect.”

The Energy and Sustainability Policy program is offered by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Dutton e-Education Institute and Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering and delivered online by Penn State’s World Campus.

Applications are now being accepted for the online bachelor of arts degree in energy and sustainability policy. For information, visit online or call 800-252-3592.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 70 of Penn State’s most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. Founded in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the University’s 25th campus serving more than 9,600 students in all 50 states and 62 countries. For more information, visit online. Penn State World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated May 13, 2011