Course Syllabus

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Semester & Location:

Summer 2023, Session 2 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:


Major Disciplines:

Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Public Policy, International Relations



Faculty Member:

Carlos García-Robles,

Time & Place:

Monday through Friday, room N7-B21, please check the calendar for class schedules

Carlos Garcia-Robles

Cand.techn.soc. (Technological & Socio-Economic Planning, Roskilde University, 2009). B.A. (International Relations, National Autonomous University of Mexico, 2004). Represented Mexican NGOs during WSSD process, 2002. Member of the Energy and Climate Group, Project coordinator for Friends of the Earth Denmark for COP15 process. With DIS since 2011.

Course description:

Renewable Energy Systems with a planning perspective

This course is recommended for students interested in socio-technological interactions and how a renewable energy system can be planned integrating the technical, social, environmental, and economic perspectives. It is not necessary to have a technical background, as it is a planning course not an engineering course.  

Current environmental issues, climate change, global social injustice, and the impacts of these on ecosystems and societies have led us to radically rethink our current energy systems. It is necessary for us to understand how humanity became so dependent upon fossil fuels, and it is even more important for us to understand what other alternative energies exist.

The current energy system based on fossil fuels is one on the most impacting human activity on the climate,  the urgency to change it to a renewable energy system is overdue.  A radical change in how we think about energy and energy planning is one of the steps needed towards designing an energy system for the 21st century that could take socio-ecological systems into a safe environmental space.

This class will focus on the Danish and Northern European energy experience by exploring different renewable energy technologies (wind, solar, biofuel, etc.) and the strengths and weaknesses of different policy options, the role of governments, civil society participation and business.

This class will examine the technical, economic, and political aspects of renewable energy, and students will learn about the successes and failures of implementing alternative energies at the local, national, and regional levels. It will also examine the planning process of renewable energy, integrating systems thinking with an interdisciplinary approach, taking into consideration that fifty percent of this course will focus on the technology through a planning lens rather than a pure engineering or technical perspective.


The course is taught through a mixture of lectures, specific assignments, group work and discussions. Field studies, and a study tour will also be incorporated and are important parts of the learning process. This session incorporates a one-week study tour to northern Germany and Berlin containing a mixture of academic and cultural visits and activities.

The course elements are:

  • Lectures, including students’ preparation and contribution to discussion of the readings and faculty’s input through mind maps
  • Assignments (mind maps and presentations)
  • Field studies
  • Study tour

Assignments and grading elements (you will receive written instructions in class regarding individual assignment details):

  • Assignment 1: Mind maps first week 30%
  • Assignment 2: Study tour report 20%
  • Assignment 3: Final project and presentation 30%
  • Assignment 4: Group mind maps and participation: 20%


Assignment guides will be provided.


Mind map resources:

Primary Texts:

  • Boyle, Godfrey (2012 edition) Renewable Energy: Power for a Sustainable Future. Oxford. to be picked up from the library during arrivals week

  • Scheer, Hermann. 2nd edition (2005). A Solar Manifesto. Routledge.


  • All readings that are not found in the main textbook are on Canvas!


Participation includes the following criteria:

  • Attendance
  • Active participation in class and study tour discussions
  • Preparation for each class
  • Reading all assigned texts
  • Preparing all assignments for class (mind maps)
  • Active participation in field studies and study tour visits


Attendance: You are expected to attend all DIS classes when scheduled.  If you miss two classes, the Director of Teaching and Learning, and the Director of Student Affairs will be notified; they will follow-up with you to make sure that all is well.  Absences will jeopardize your grade and your standing at DIS.  Allowances will be made in cases of illness, but you will need to provide a doctor’s note.

Deadline policy:

Assignments and papers handed in after the deadline are not accepted and will be graded as failed. If you’re ill (and can provide a valid doctor’s note) or have good reasons for not being able to meet a deadline, make sure to consult the instructor.


Due to the nature of some of our visits throughout the semester, you may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement with regards to privacy of some Cleantech knowledge.  In the event that a company requires you to keep information confidential, please be advised that information regarded as confidential will not be allowed to be posted on DIS forum, made available on the internet, or distributed to 3rd parties.

Laptop computer policy: While most students find that taking notes by hand in class is quite sufficient for review purposes, you are allowed to use a computer in class for writing lecture/discussion notes. However, you are asked not to use computers in class to write e-mails, connect to social media, or conduct other such activities as this is quite disrespectful and distracting for me and other students.  Failure to show this courtesy will result in a reduction of your class participation grade.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia - www.DISabroad.orgLinks to an external site.


Course Summary:

Date Details Due