energy and development

This page contains materials supporting two courses taught at Columbia University: “Energy, Enterprise and Development” offered in the School of International and Public Affairs in its Energy & Environment concentration, and “Energy and Sustainable Development” within the Sustainability Management offered by the School of Professional Studies. It is organized by Topics and then by Course specific information.

e Topics

  1. Energy… includes a typology of e, an analytical framework, an answer to the question “what is an energy enterprise?” and an open-ended manuscript I call the little book of e: energy and everything else. Includes links to resources and identifies further materials to consider.
  2. e and Human Development… traces human history in just a few archetypes: Homo Sapiens V1.0-Forager, H.S. 2.0-Farmer, H.S. 3.0-Manufacturer and H.S 4.0-Industrialist… asks the questions “what are the choices for Homo Sapiens 5.0?”… relies on Vaclav Smil’s excellent descriptions of the relationship of energy and civilization.
  3. e and Nature… identifies ten (of many) markers that can be used to keep track of the impact of energy on Oceans, Life, Land, Water and Air.
  4. Energy Actors and Activities / Goals and Programs... describes the Who’s Who in the energy for development space both by type of institution and significant examples… describes the currently trendy goals for energy and development and debunks the idea the SDG 7 (sustainable energy for all) and the Paris Agreement expectations 1.5-2.0 degrees C are even worth talking about (I am much more concerned with weather than climate change and with adaptation more so than mitigation.
  5. e and Cities… identifies trends and key issues vis-a-vis urbanization and the role of energy … draws upon popular and academic materials to try (try!) to keep up with the pace of change, especially regarding weather events.
  6. e and Industry… describes utility-scale energy projects and the role (and future) of public and private utilities… seques to the less discussed but hugely important issue of embedded energy and our seemingly insatiable appetite to acquire “stuff”.
  7. Energy Ethics… draws upon and adds to recent work on energy ethics with a particular focus on the dimensions of ethical issues (e.g., time horizons) that must be considered when planning and implementing energy projects, programs or activities.
  8. e and Agriculture
  9. e and Cooking
  10. e and Gender
  11. e and Displaced People
  12. e and Sustainable Development


  1. Overview… courses are similar in method but differ in perspective. Energy, Enterprise & Development aims at the practical challenges at creating energy enterprises in in the public, private and civil society sectors. Its perspective is on-the-ground planning and implementation. Energy & Sustainable Development’s perspective is to explore major topics (along the lines of the eleven Topics, above) but to do so realistically and practically: to debunk general talking points where appropriate and to point to practical solutions where possible.
  2. Syllabus for Energy, Enterprise & Development-School of International and Public Affairs, Energy & Environment Concentration, Columbia University.
  3. Syllabus for Energy & Sustainable Development-School of Professional Studies, Sustainability Management Program, Columbia University.
MIT, 2017