Fall 2008 LSA THEME SEMESTER: Energy Futures: Society, Innovation and Technology
The LSA Energy Futures theme semester is part of a University-wide Initiative on Energy Science, Technology and Policy, established by U-M Vice President for Research.
Coordinated by LSA's Center for the Study of Complex Systems and LSA Student Government, the theme semester will feature internationally renowned scholars in political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public policy and survey research, who will examine the cultural, historical and social aspects of energy policy.
The Theme Semester will highlight the historical importance of technological innovation in the evolution of society’s use of energy and society’s ready adoption of the labor-saving devices and machines rendered possible by harnessing the combustion of fossil fuels. An important sub-theme will be how technological innovation originates, how it drives economic growth, and how it comes to be imbedded in our culture and way of life. With technological innovation as a springboard, we will explore social innovation and opportunities for how social innovation can arise to become a central means to address “The Energy Problem.”
First-year students will read the book "Power to the People: How the coming energy revolution will transform an industry, change our lives and may even save the planet," as part of an energy-focused summer reading program.
The proposed activities in the Theme Year will include the following components:
- An undergraduate course on the social sciences of energy (CMPLXSYS 250 – Social Systems and Energy).
- An undergraduate humanities-based course on the theme “Energy in Literature”
- A public lecture series given by distinguished scholars, addressing themes of social sciences in energy
- Accompanying the lecture series will be a Community Reading project.
- A UM Art Museum/Natural History Exhibit Museum exhibit: a photographic portrait of energy in society
- Commission an original Theater production on a theme of energy and the social perspective.
- Undergraduate writing prize on the theme of social aspects of energy.
- Explore the creation of a student-created “Energy Café” focused on the social-cultural aspects of energy.”
- Create a student “University President’s Society for the future of energy and society”.
- Incentives for LSA social science departments for (mini )courses on aspects of energy and innovation diffusion.
- University-wide competition on finding innovative ways that the university, or units within it, can use energy more efficiently.