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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Academics & Research

Faculty exert enthusiasm for energy minor


Students on energy-related career tracks may want to make room in next semester’s schedule. UH has created a minor in energy.

The energy minor corresponds to the creation of UH Energy, a group of top energy research and education programs led by Ramanan Krishnamoorti, special assistant to the president and chancellor for UH Energy.

As UH pushes toward becoming a dominant player in energy education, the need for sustainable energy education grows, Krishnamoorti said.

“If we’re going to use energy in an unsustainable way, I think we’re going to be doing the entire society a disservice. Sustainability has to become a part of the conversation,” Krishnamoorti said.

“In that sense, what I’m suggesting is that we have a discussion not just about energy, but about energy in a sustainable way.”

The introductory course for the minor is being taught by two professors, Joseph Pratt, professor of business and history, and Ognjen Miljanic, assistant professor of chemistry, and will be housed in the College of Business.

The course was advertised around campus and gathered to it a heterogeneous group of students despite the class designation.

“It is fun as a teacher to have different students discuss this with one another,” Pratt said. “This is a lively class; there is quite a bit of discussion. The engineers, the business majors, the economics majors, a Chinese studies major, everybody knows a little bit of a different part of the puzzle, so the discussion gets very interesting.”

“It’s kind of exciting. The enthusiasm of students has been contagious. The idea that we’re doing this at UH is very appropriate. I’ve been here a long time, and this is the place this course should be.”

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the minor plans to move to the Honors College, Krishnamoorti said, but it will still be available to any and all UH students.

Issues addressed in the course can be applied to many fields, making the course less career-specific and showing the global significance of energy, Pratt said.

“The minor should provide a breadth of knowledge to students who are interested in jobs in energy and sustainability, green jobs as well as oil and gas jobs. It also is a good kind of citizenship training. These are big issues,” Pratt said.

“They’re going to stay big not just in Houston but in the whole world for generations. The kind of energy we use, the degree to which certain paths in the future are sustainability, the idea that energy use and global environment are interconnected, those are big ideas.”

The minor has been seriously planned since only Spring 2012, Pratt said, but the idea of streamlining the different energy courses and student organizations across campus has been in the works for several years.

The collaborative efforts of the different colleges is one of the better parts of the program, Krishnamoorti said. It allows for different points of view to the same wide-reaching subject to be heard and communicated clearly.

“Now not only are you going to talk to people who think interdisciplinary, but you have to think in a interdisciplinary way,” Krishnamoorti said. “You have to start to appreciate all the different sides.”

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