Energy and Society

Energy and Society Minor

Allegheny recently designed the unique and popular Energy and Society minor. Students engage with political, economic, cultural, and scientific aspects of energy at local to global scales. We prepare you to join all aspects of the energy economy!

students in class

Energy and Society At a Glance


Number of U.S. employees working in the energy efficiency sector as of 2020

Comprehensive energy analysis

Unlike programs with a singular focus on technical and/or scientific aspects of energy, we bring the liberal arts interdisciplinary approach to our study of energy. Minors analyze and synthesize the multifaceted aspects of energy in human society.

A wide range of skill development

Students will learn essential technical, communication, and project management skills that are transferable to any future job.

There are many paths you can follow over your four years to complete this minor!

Our minors take four required foundation courses (ENERG 105, 115, 385, and 485) plus two electives from one of four focus areas (political systems, economic systems, communication, and/or ethics and social justice).

You might take ENERG 105 (Introduction to Energy & Society) or ENERG 115 (The Science of Energy) in your first year. These are the two introductory-level required foundation courses. Students sometimes come to our minor after taking ESS 110 (Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability) or after they take other introductory-level courses across campus that cover energy topics.

Some of our students begin their foundation courses in their sophomore year, which is no problem. Ideally, by the end of the sophomore year, you'll have two of your foundation courses and decided your area of focus (policy, economics, or culture/communication/ethics) for the minor. A wide range of majors — from Physics to Business to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies — link their interests to this minor.

In your third year, you'll continue with electives in your focus area and ENERG 385 (Introduction to Sustainable Energy). You might also take ENERG 485 this year, which is the capstone course for the major. This course involves an applied group project and helps students bring together everything they've learned. In 2020, the class helped plan for LED street light upgrades for the City of Meadville.

In your final year, you'll finish up any electives and/or take ENERG 485. Some of our minors choose to incorporate aspects of energy into their Senior Comp for the major. We also encourage students to pursue credit-bearing internships with local partners — these experiences can be substituted for an elective course to count toward your minor. Internships often help our graduates get their first job in the energy field, which is experiencing huge job growth.

Successful Energy and Society minors will be able to:

Investigate, identify, and predict social and behavioral aspects of energy consumption at the individual, organizational, and community levels.

Explain, describe, and evaluate different energy systems and how natural processes control their formation, extraction, and environmental impacts.

Evaluate the spatial distribution of energy resources. Compare & contrast economic and geopolitical issues in their utilization and trade.

Develop and apply analytical tools to promote access, efficiency, conservation, and/or equity in energy systems within local, regional, national, or international communities.

Nathan Pastorek, Student

Geology Major/Energy and Society Minor, Class of 2020; Graduate student in energy analysis at the University of Texas at Austin

“ I chose to minor in Energy and Society because it allowed me to perform geothermal exploration research in the classroom and during a summer internship with the Department of Energy. ”

Next Steps

Early Decision App Deadline

November 15, 2022

Regular Decision App Deadline

February 15, 2023

For More Info

Dr. Rachel O'Brien

Professor of Geology