Environmental Advocacy Skills in a Climate Changed World: A Berkshires Wind Project Case Study Winter 2024

Class Details

In this course, students will experience what it is like to advocate for or against a proposed clean energy project-a wind project-in the Berkshires and confront the range of critical trade-offs involved in addressing climate change. After being provided with some basics of wind power technology and impacts, through a combination of research and advocacy exercises students will alternate between advocating for the project and against it, thereby gaining insights into competing sides of controversy while also learning a range of environmental policy and legal issues as they proceed. Students will draft and orally present to their classmates a newspaper-style op-ed; will interview (using Zoom) someone working in the field of clean energy and then present to the class a summary of what was learned; will conduct in class a short examination of a witness on scenic or wildlife impact issues; and in the last class, present a closing argument that can use any combination of video, posters, slides, or other media. To gain insight into competing perspectives, each student alternates representing one side or the other exercise-by-exercise. Readings and videos will be from live links in the course syllabus, and some handouts provided by the Instructor by email or in-person. The readings will provide a concise overview of wind power technology and impacts; the legal process for review and either approval or denial of a wind project; and advocacy strategies for both written and oral efforts. There may be a field trip to a nearby (25 miles away) operating windfarm, weather and owner permitting.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1163
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Paper(s) or report(s); Presentation(s)
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Preference to Environmental Studies majors and concentrators; after that, by lottery
Unit Notes: Jeff Thaler, a nationally recognized clean energy and environmental lawyer, also teaches at the undergraduate, graduate and law school levels. He has handled a wide range of clean energy projects, including on-and-offshore wind power.
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
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