ECON 19
From Rockefeller to Renewables: 150 Years of US Energy Disruption Winter 2023

Class Details

In 2000, the United States was the world’s largest energy importer. By 2020, the US defied all expectations and became a net energy exporter. What accounts for this strategically disruptive transformation, and what are its long-term implications for the US and global transitions to cleaner energy? To be sure, US shale production technology, aka “fracking,” has been a critical driver. In addition, renewable energy (wind, solar, storage) and conservation have also played important parts. This course starts with a historical perspective, examining the roots of the modern energy industry via John D Rockefeller’s terrific autobiography. We then study the evolution of global supply and demand for oil, natural gas, renewables, and electricity including the fundamental roles of marginal cost curves and market price signals, especially in the US. Which US disruptions and their disrupters have been most important? What will the next chapter of the US energy transition look like? In addition, we will examine the role of global geopolitics and energy, including the energy market chaos resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Course includes: 1) team debate where students pair-up, select a topic from current energy issues, and then be randomly assigned to defend one side of the issue; 2) 5 page paper.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 20
Expected: NA
Class#: 1110
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: short paper and final project or presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Econ and environmental science majors
Unit Notes: James F. Clark is a Partner with Sound Shore Management, Inc. where he is on the investment team and Chair of the ESG Committee. Previously, Jim was at Credit Suisse First Boston where he was Managing Director, Director of Research.
Attributes: STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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