Students Explore Alternative Energy in Sweden, Denmark
Nineteen Alma College students recently explored alternative and renewable energy during a four-week travel course that took them to Sweden, Denmark and England.
“The Governor has a stated goal of moving Michigan to the forefront of developing alternative and renewable energy, and Sweden and Denmark are recognized for their leadership in developing alternative ad renewable sources of energy,” says Michael Vickery, professor of communication and co-director of the Center for Responsible Leadership at Alma College.
“We also saw the course as a way to support Center for Responsible Leadership students in their development of international awareness of a critical public issue and to foster the development of leadership projects,” says Murray Borrello, instructor of environmental science and co-director of the Center.
The spring term class started by exploring the political, cultural and economic issues surrounding alternative and renewable energy as well as energy policy in Michigan, Sweden and Denmark.
“We wanted students to see that energy is a global problem and a cultural issue, that energy and climate change and sustainability are inextricably related,” says Vickery. “There is real urgency in the need to move toward clean and renewable energy sources.”
Students visited the Harvest Wind farm in Michigan and discussed Michigan's renewable energy policy issues with the Wind Energy Group of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Traveling to Uppsala, Sweden, students heard lectures from faculty and visited the community of Hagaby to learn about its efforts to become environmentally sustainable. At the Vattenfall Energy Plant, they learned about waste-to-power generation operation and district heating and cooling.
From there, students traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to learn about the Stockholm 2030 plan for energy and environmental sustainability and Hammerby Sjostad, Stockholm's first fully planned sustainable community.
In Copenhagen, Denmark, students listened to presentations on the Copenhagen 2015 sustainability plan, the upcoming U.N. Global Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, and wind power and fuel cell technology. They also visited Danish Oil and Gas for a seminar on energy issues and alternatives in Denmark, Europe and the world.
The last stop was Wroxton College In England, where students heard from policy experts, including a former Member of Parliament, on energy and sustainability. They also visited a new waste management plant and a successful, large, sustainable, organic, mixed-use farm.
“This trip helped us realize that there are ways of addressing big issues like renewable energy by cultivating cooperation between government, universities and the private sector,” says Borrello. “It was great to see the students develop a very clear appreciation of interdisciplinary thinking and come to the realization that energy and climate problems are real and global.”
Posted: Mon, June 29th, 2009 at 9:32AM