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Fueling Up

The demand for energy is central to civilization on Earth, supporting economic growth and societal innovation, while contributing to civil unrest and environmental degradation. This Praxis Lab will provide an interdisciplinary venue to explore the science, engineering, policy, environmental consequences, economics, and sociopolitical complexities of energy systems. Students will study all available and emerging energy resources and technologies, including those present in the state of Utah. They will analyze the complex nature of energy systems, while considering the links between geoscience, engineering, ecosystems, and socioeconomic systems. They will examine the trade offs between social and environmental demands, the connections between production and consumption, and questions related to path dependency, efficiency, inequality, and built environments. Students will compare and contrast the life cycle variations of different energy options, the land use requirements of each energy resource, and the societal impacts of the usage of various energy sources. This analysis is rooted in a data-driven understanding of energy systems. Students will also situate their own behavior and choices within these complex, global-scale energy systems.

Final Report


Brenda Bowen, PhD – Associate Professor, Geology and Geophyics and Associate Director, Global Change and Sustainability Center

Professor Bowen is an interdisciplinary geoscientist who received a B.S. and M.S. in Earth Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Utah. She was a faculty member in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University for several years before returning to Utah in 2012. She is now an Associate Professor of Geology and Geophysics and Associate Director of the Global Change and Sustainability Center.  Her research focuses on how changing environmental conditions influence the composition of sediments and fluids in both modern and ancient systems. In addition, she is actively involved in developing interdisciplinary academic programs that address critical issues related to understanding global change and developing sustainable solutions.

Brett Clark, PhD – Associate Professor, Sociology, Environmental Humanities, Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Professor Clark is an environmental sociologist who received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Oregon. After working for four years at North Carolina State University, he accepted a job at the University of Utah in 2012, where is now an Associate Professor of Sociology, with appointments in the Environmental Humanities graduate program and the Environmental and Sustainability Studies undergraduate program. His research focuses on the political economy of global environmental change and the philosophy, history, and sociology of science. He has published four books and several dozen articles addressing social-environmental relationships and problems.

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