Start Date

5 February 2018


10 Weeks





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This course explores energy innovation and related processes of technological change in energy systems, from a variety of social science perspectives.  The perspectives considered are mainly economic but also political, geographic, philosophical and sociological.  The course is targeted at post-graduate students with an engineering, natural sciences or other technical background and/or individuals in management roles where social science insights are useful in management and decision making.  Current theories and debates around human behavior as it relates to innovation are covered with practical examples and applications focusing on real-world energy and environment problems.

Strategic objectives

The course learning objectives, which the instructors aim to fulfill collaboratively with students, are as follows:

  • To instill in students with a natural sciences or technical background, a social-science based perspective on energy innovation issues
  • To identify patterns in the way humans interact with energy and related technologies, policies and systems
  • To position ‘micro’ innovation events within broader ‘macro’ trends in industry
  • To prepare students for the social and behavioral dimension of challenges that come with moving from technical to decision-making and managerial roles
  • To build skill at learning, communication and working in groups across space and time.


The course is delivered through a combination of pre-recorded video lectures, live interactive webinars, reading assignments, take-home assignments, quizzes and written work.  Scheduling information about the live webinars will be made available to students upon enrollment.

The video lectures present the main theories and debates around human behavior and energy innovation, and illustrate them with research-led examples.  The video lectures contain the guiding concepts which are then reinforced in the interactive webinars and through the readings and take home assignments.  Each student is responsible for keeping pace with the material presented each week in the video lectures, webinars, and assignments.

Evaluation and assessment

The course is evaluated in four ways:

  • 25% for attendance and participation at the weekly webinar (or for students who are unable to make the webinar time completion of a substitute assignment)
  • 25% based on weekly quiz scores (10 quizzes worth 2.5% each of the overall course mark)
  • 25% for an individual 2,500 word essay
  • 25% based on a cross-country group project. 


The attendance policy, quizzes and group project will be explained in the webinars.  The essay requires students to apply the theory and concepts covered in the readings and video lectures to real world behavior-and-innovation issue related to energy.  The essay question can be chosen from a list, to be released in the early weeks of the course.

The essay is due by 11:59pm on Sunday, March 25, 2018 and must be submitted through the Turnitin link on Moodle.