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UC San Diego classroomThe Deep Decarbonization Initiative serves as an academic hub for training on energy and climate. Courses across campus give students foundations in energy science and systems, social and policy sciences related to energy, and the science of climate change.

With support from the Deep Decarbonization Initiative, UC San Diego will build new courses and add segments on decarbonization to existing courses.


Our Energy Future: Sustainable Energy Solutions (BIBC 140)

Course will provide an overview of energy production and utilization and the consequences of this on the economy and environment. The course will introduce renewable energy technologies including biofuels, and explores the social, economic, and political aspects of energy use.

Campus Wide

Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions (SIO 109)

This course will focus on scalable solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability. The course adopts climate change mitigation policies, technologies, governance, and actions that California, the UC system, and cities around the world have adopted as living laboratories and challenges students to identify locally and globally scalable solutions. (Students may not receive credit for POLI 117 and SIO 109.)

Fundamentals of Energy Systems and Innovation (GPGN 491/MAE 207)

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of the energy system and outline its possible futures. UC San Diego has several courses that investigate different aspects of the energy system, including the fundamental science and engineering behind promising new technologies (mainly in JSOE) and the political economy of energy (in GPS and Economics).

None of these offers an explanation of how the system is structured, the imperatives and constraints under which it operates, and how it is likely to evolve given the competing demands it serves and the range of challenges facing its constituent technologies. The goal of this course is to impart a knowledge of these realities, and to help students develop the skills to critically evaluate the technical, economic, and policy choices that will have to be made when modernizing it, with a key focus on innovation in creating new opportunities.


Energy Economics (ECON132)

Energy from an economic perspective. Fuel cycles for coal, hydro, nuclear, oil, and solar energy. Emphasis on efficiency and control of pollution. Comparison of energy use across sectors and across countries. Global warming. Role of energy in the international economy.

School of Global Policy and Strategy

Policy Analysis and Decision Theory (IRCO 407)

This course introduces students to the methods of policy analysis and decision-making theory — methods to assemble panel data to capture the impact of new policy on observable data, decision-making theory, uncertainty, decision criteria, expected utility and risk.

Economics of Energy Policy (IRGN 414)

This course examines the theoretical and empirical questions around the supply and demand markets, and the use for energy in firms and households. We will consider the environmental consequences and regulations of use. The course emphasizes the application of economic theory to energy issues.

International Politics of Energy Policy (IRGN 428)

The class introduces students to major theoretical perspectives that are used to show how societies design and implement policies related to energy, and applies these theories to major issues in energy policy, including ethanol, climate change and energy security.

Political Economy of Energy in Asia (IRGN 473)

This course examines the political economy of energy in Asia across a number of key themes, including the interaction between the economics and politics of energy markets, the search for energy security through cooperation and competition, the challenges of managing difficult energy policy choices and trade-offs, and the challenges of sustainable energy development. Emphasis will be placed on the oil industry and its pivotal role in global energy use, pricing, and geopolitics.

Advanced Projects in Energy Policy and Business Strategy (IRGN 490)

This is an advanced course that allows students to work on a real project with a real client - applying classroom training to real world issues. The course expands on previous training in advanced analysis of energy systems and policy.

Energy Policy in Japan (IRGN 490)

This course analyzes the energy policy of Japan – which presents an interesting case – from the 1940s onwards, and illustrates how the country's energy policy choices have precipitated seminal events in Japan’s modern history.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Thermodynamics (MAE110A)

Fundamentals of engineering thermodynamics: energy, work, heat, properties of pure substances, first and second laws for closed systems and control volumes, gas mixtures. Application to engineering systems, power and refrigeration cycles, combustion.

Introduction to Energy Systems (MAE118)

Overview of present day primary energy sources and availability; fossil fuel, renewable, and nuclear; heat engines; energy conservation, transportation, air pollution, and climate change.

Introduction to Renewable Energy: Solar and Wind (MAE119)

Basic principles of solar radiation — diffuse and direct radiation; elementary solar energy engineering — solar thermal and solar photovoltaic; basic principles of wind dynamics — hydrodynamic laws, wind intermittency, Betz’s law; elementary wind energy engineering; solar and wind energy perspectives; operating the California power grid with 33 percent renewable energy sources.

Introduction to Nuclear Energy (MAE 120)

Overview of basic fission and fusion processes. Elementary fission reactor physics and engineering; environmental and waste disposal issues. Survey of fusion technology issues and perspectives.

Introduction to Magnetized Hot Plasma Physics

Drifts of magnetized charged particles, charged particle motion in different magnetic configurations, toroidal plasma equilibrium, Grad-Shafranov equation, neoclassical plasma transport in tokamak, waves in homogeneous magnetized plasma, waves in inhomogeneous magnetized plasma, instabilities of magnetized plasma.

Nanoscale and Microscale Heat Transfer for Energy Conversion Applications I (MAE 225A)

An advanced introduction to the principles underlying conduction, convection, and radiation phenomena at the atomic/molecular scale; overview of macroscopic thermal sciences, kinetic theory and fluidics, statistical thermodynamics and quantum theory, thermal properties as a function of dimensionality; experimental methods.

Energy Materials and Applications (MAE 254)

This class will cover the fundamentals/engineering aspects of various energy materials based on metallic, ceramic, semiconductor, and chemical structures, and their applications related to solar cells, fuel cells, batteries, fusion energy, and hydrogen storage will be discussed.

Boundary Layer and Renewable Energy Meteorology (MAE 255)

Radiative and convective heat transfer in the atmosphere. Surface energy balance and the urban heat island. Turbulence and dispersion in the atmospheric boundary layer. Solar and wind energy systems, resource assessment, and intermittency.

Radiative Transfer for Energy Applications (MAE 256)

Global insolation heat engine; solar-wind coupling; regional/seasonal insolation patterns; atmospheric radiation balance; RTE models; scattering; optical depth and transmittance of cloud layers; Schwarzschild's equation; absorption/emission lines; rotational, vibrational and electronic transitions; Doppler/pressure broadening; Elsasser/ Malkmus/Edwards models; solution methods.


Nanoscale Energy Technology (NANO 261)

Examines the role nanotechnology will play in addressing the many scientific and engineering challenges for new energy production. Topics include nanotechnology’s role in improving photovoltaics, fuel-cells, batteries, energy transmission, and conversion of renewable (green) and nonrenewable sources.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Climate Change and Society (SIO 25)

Climate change is one of the most complex and critical issues affecting societies today. This course will present the scientific evidence for climate change and its impacts and consider governmental policy responses and possible adaptation strategies.

Life and Climate on Earth (SIO 40)

Explores life on Earth and its relationship to the environment — past, present, and future. Topics include origins of life, earth history, elemental cycles, global climate variability and human impacts on our environment.

Geological Record and Climate Change (SIOC 201)

Introduction to geological archives; the tools for paleoclimate reconstruction and a sampling of important issues from the geological record, including the development of “greenhouse” and “icehouse” worlds, the origin and evolution of glacial cycles, and the origin of “millennial scale” climate variability.

Climate Change in Four Dimensions: Scientific, Policy, International, and Social (SIOC 209)

This course is designed for graduate or qualified senior undergraduate students and is taught in a hybrid lecture/seminar format. This course views climate change from a variety of perspectives at the intersection of the natural sciences, technology, and the social sciences and humanities.

Atmospheric and Climate Science (SIOC 217A)

Thermodynamics and statics of dry and moist air, atmospheric composition, Earth radiation budget, vertical structure of the atmosphere, global energy balance, thermodynamic feedbacks in the climate system.