Introductory College Sustainable Biofuels Course

Introductory College Sustainable Biofuels Course


Introductory College Sustainable Biofuels Course“Bioenergy: Sustainability Opportunities and Challenges” is a three-credit undergraduate course that explores a wide range of interdisciplinary issues associated with bioenergy. There is a strong focus on systems perspectives and understanding the complexities that are involved and so typical for modern scientific and technological challenges. The potential for future biofuels to be a renewable energy source and to mitigate global climate change is highlighted.

Both globally and nationally, we are facing significant energy and corresponding environmental challenges. Can future bioenergy technologies provide solutions?  In this course we will explore a wide range of issues associated with bioenergy. Topics will include:

  • Past and current uses of bioenergy;
  • Considerations that are driving interest in new bioenergy technologies;
  • Research needed to make future technologies successful;
  • Sustainability dimensions: economic, environmental, and societal.

By nature, the topic of bioenergy is interdisciplinary and requires collaboration for successful research. A strong focus will be on this interdisciplinary aspect.  We will look at interrelationships from a systems perspective and come to understand the complexities that are involved and so typical for modern scientific and technological problems. The potential for future biofuels to mitigate global climate change will be highlighted.

We will also take advantage of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), which has a significant portion of its researchers based here at UW-Madison. GLBRC’s focus on the use of cellulosic plant material for the production of liquid transportation biofuels will serve as a primary case study. Interaction with GLBRC will also provide for in-depth dialogs with a wide range of researchers, and laboratory and field activities.

This course is a part of the UW-Madison FIG program (First-Year Interest Group, http://figs.wisc.edu/), and all the students also take first semester General Chemistry and Environmental Studies.

For more information, read the article O Bioneers and view photos from FIG groups in past years on our Flickr page.