The 'Energy 101' curricular framework was released on March 12, 2013.

Materials from the launch webinar on April 10 are now available online:
The presentation and webcast will also be available on the Education and Workforce Development Multimedia Page.

Please visit the Energy 101 forum as well as the Energy 101 Project site, to keep apprised of further Energy 101 related news.

EESI worked with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and the University of Maryland (UMD) to develop a freshman-level, interdisciplinary "Energy 101" course for colleges, universities and community colleges. The Energy 101 Project is designed to permit more informed decision-making related to energy. It builds on the energy literacy work of the Department of Energy and draws on 21st century education concepts related to analysis of facts, critical thinking, and solution design. Energy 101 products today include a model curricular design (unveiled on March 12, 2013), Energy 101 college and community college curricula, lectures and other instructional materials, including a limited number of online learning modules. Work is currently being done on micro-credits, micro-credentialing, and the transferability of credit. A variety of other follow-on activities are also being considered.

EESI and APLU helped engage educational professionals, energy and policy experts, students and others in a national conversation about energy by inviting them to participate in the development of the "introduction to energy" curricular framework. From this foundation, courses are being designed to meet general science requirements for undergraduate students in all fields of study. Schools that offer "Energy 101" courses based on the curricular framework can create customized course modules to meet their needs. The goal is to provide today's students/citizens (and tomorrow's leaders!) with a solid understanding of basic energy principles and enable them to develop critical thinking skills that are essential to making informed decisions about energy production, energy use, sustainable development and other issues.

The curricular framework is divided into four sections: "Energy Basics," which introduces the scientific principles that govern energy; "Energy Sources," which introduces the students to the characteristics of the various types of energy; "How Energy is Used," which brings in technology and applications; and "Energy Policy and Decision-making," which brings in social science, politics, environmental policy and a variety of other factors.

Course modules are available through the DOE’s National Training and Education Resource (NTER), a cloud-based training tool that allows for content creation and sharing.

As well as having developed the curricular framework, the Energy 101 team has set up an Energy 101 Forum on NTER to facilitate the sharing of ideas, resources, and materials and for interested individuals to post their comments. We welcome your participation! You can also email comments or questions to energy101 [at] eesi.org or call us at 202 662 1893.



In 2010, then Secretary of Energy Steven Chu asked the Chief Strategist for Education and Workforce Development at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Michelle Fox, to take the lead on an energy literacy initiative for the Department of Energy, which was added to the Department of Energy’s strategic plan. A significant product of that initiative was Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education, which presents energy concepts that, if understood and applied, would help individuals and communities make informed energy decisions. The energy literacy principles were identified by the DOE in an extensive private/public sector process.

In Spring 2011, Fox let APLU know that she was interested in the development of an Energy 101 course based on the Energy Literacy principles. The course would start out as an interdisciplinary undergraduate course taught at universities and community colleges, and would eventually would also become a high school AP Energy 101 course. Fox's dream, before Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) became popular, was to use NTER as a repository of Energy 101 teaching materials and as a means for Energy 101 teachers to share problems and best practices.

The Energy 101 team developed, with the assistance of a network of experts, a nationally recognized, interdisciplinary Energy 101 Curricular Framework that can be implemented by both 4-year and 2-year universities and colleges across the nation; the preparatory work included analyzing 16 other Energy 101 curricula in the context of Energy Literacy. Over the next several months, a number of drafts of the curriculum were circulated for review so that professors and other professionals with expertise in the area could suggest additions, deletions, and other improvements; this outreach effort was coordinated by EESI and a number of major educational associations including AACC, AAU, AASCU, and ASEE. Second Nature also assisted in this effort. The Energy 101 curricular framework was released on March 12, 2013.

A prototype course, Designing a Sustainable World, was developed by University of Maryland professors to demonstrate Energy 101. The course was developed using 21st century educational principles and featured lectures and a flipped classroom in which instruction is delivered online whereas "homework" is done during class. Students were graded primarily on a design portfolio that applied the knowledge learned in the course. The goal from the beginning was to emphasize critical thinking and to give the students a mental roadmap as a basis for energy decision-making in their personal lives. The course received high marks from students, was featured by the University of Maryland on Earth Day, and was selected by the university as an example of its commitment to sustainability.

You can read more about the Energy 101 project's inception and history here.


What's next

We envision a nationwide roll-out of the Energy 101 course, with MOOC-like lectures and a flipped classroom. Individual institutions and departments would offer the courses and local instructors would be in charge of the ePortfolio, grading, supplemental information for students, and capstone projects.


Join us!

  • Submit ideas for course modules at energy101 [at] eesi.org.
  • Spread the word about this effort, especially to those you know in the higher education community, and encourage others to contact us.

Energy 101 Project Team

The Energy 101 project is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) through a contract with Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and is led by APLU. EESI and the University of Maryland are providing outreach, peer review, and content development.


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