This specialization track is intended for those interested in energy policy or wanting a career in the energy sector, including in both renewable and conventional energy. The track provides a pragmatic, rigorous, and interdisciplinary understanding of energy from three perspectives: science and technology, policy, and business.

Students graduating from this track might pursue careers in energy policy or management in the private sector, state or federal regulatory agencies, or in the nonprofit sector.

Course Requirements

RSE students must take four (4) of the following course options. Students are required to take all three (3) courses in Group A, and must choose one (1) of the two (2) courses in Group B.

Group A

This course provides an understanding of the basics of energy science and technologies. The course starts with energy concepts (such as 'power, 'resources,' and 'carriers'), and then takes a closer look at how the U.S. produces, transforms, and consumes energy. The course explores how energy use contributes to environmental challenges, notably climate change. The course then assesses alternatives, including renewables and energy efficiency, to better understand their potentials and limitations. No technical background is required. 

This course examines energy policy and the problem of sustainability through a variety of disciplinary and topical perspectives: historical, political, behavioral, techno-economic, and legal.  A critical approach is applied to arguments about energy policy processes, systems, and desired outcomes, with special emphasis on the role of renewable and sustainable energy in the changing global energy system.  

This course addresses the business of renewable and sustainable energy, including opportunities and challenges with renewable electricity, renewable transportation fuels, and energy efficiency. Topics include energy markets, opportunity identification, life cycle analysis, economic analysis, policy impacts, and project financing of sustainable and renewable energy business models.

Group B

This course has an applied economics orientation towards energy and natural resources. The curriculum includes supply and demand of energy resources, private versus common pool energy resources, and the market equilibria outcomes of government energy policies.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy in Practice will seek to provide students with a sampling of the types of companies, people, and operations that are relevant to the renewable energy space. The course will be co-taught by a team of three energy professionals from the Boulder/Denver Area, each of whom come from a different background and offer a unique perspective on renewable and sustainable energy.

Sample Course Sequence

Term Courses
  • Student Orientation
  • The Scientific Basis of Environmental Change (MENV core; ENVM 6100; 3 credit hours)
  • Applications in Environmental Change (MENV core; ENVM 6100; 1 credit hour)
Fall Semester I
  • Analyzing Socio-Environmental Systems (MENV core; ENVM 5002; 3 credit hours)
  • Energy Science & Technology (RSE Specialization requirement; ENVM 5007; 3 credit hours)
  • Energy Policy in the 21st Century (RSE Specialization requirement; ENVM 5006; 3 credit hours)
  • Capstone Innovation Lab I (ENVM 6001; 1 credit hour)
  • Elective
Spring Semester
  • Leadership and Ethics (MENV core; ENVM 6100; 3 credit hours)
  • The Business of Sustainable Energy (RSE Specialization requirement; ENVM 5005; 3 credit hours)
  • Capstone Innovation Lab II (ENVM 6002; 1 credit hour)
  • Elective (3 credit hours)
  • Elective (3 credit hours)
Maymester (optional)
  • Elective (optional; 3 credit hours)
Summer Semester
  • Capstone Project (ENVM 6003; 5 credit hours)
Fall Semester II
  • Group B specialization course (RSE Specialization requirement; 3 credit hours)
  • Capstone Innovation Lab III (ENVM 6004; 1 credit hour)
  • Elective (3 credit hours)
  • Elective (3 credit hours)
  • Elective (3 credit hours)