Energy Transitions: Past, Present, Future?

Coming next month to the Linda Hall Library Adult Education class lineup, Energy Transitions: Past, Present, Future?. The Library welcomes professor Brian Frehner as instructor for this thought-provoking class.

Frehner is Chair and Professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he teaches and researches the topics of oil, environment, technology and the American West. He is currently at work on a monograph examining the transition from coal to oil, focusing on Texas and California. He recently published an article that tells the story of how boys who invented the sport of BMX bicycle racing in the 1970s and 80s used technology to appropriate open space amidst tensions presented by suburban sprawl. He is the author of Finding Oil: The Nature of Petroleum Geology, 1859-1920 (2011) and co-editor of two volumes: Indians and Energy: Exploitation and Opportunity in the American Southwest (2010) and The Greater Plains: Rethinking a Region’s Environmental Histories (2021).

This new class will draw upon the history of energy transitions to speculate about how society may (or may not) transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable forms of energy, with discussions focusing on the shift from coal to oil and efforts to adopt solar energy throughout the twentieth century. Students will leave the class being able to formulate a definition of “energy” that is informed by the historical past, identify the political, cultural, economic, scientific, and technological issues that inform energy transitions, and consider the ways that human beings operate as both producers and consumers of energy and how these roles complicate our energy needs.

Classes will be held virtually via Zoom on June 12 and 19. Participants will be encouraged to join with their device camera turned on, ready to engage. Learn more about the Linda Hall Library Adult Education program and register for classes at www.lindahall.org/experience/learning/adult-education.

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