Written By: Darci Pauser and Riley Sessanna
As global population grows and energy needs increase it is important to question where our energy comes from and at what cost.
In preparation to discuss these topics, EMPOWER students attended a screening of the documentary Switch, a 2012 film which explores how much energy an average person consumes and from where that energy is sourced. Following the screening, students had the opportunity to voice their opinions of the film and discuss the means of producing and consuming energy. Discussions led to topics on renewable versus non-renewable energy, what countries are doing to produce “clean energy,” and the most important sources of energy for various consumers.
The film prompted students to consider what it will take for humankind to make “the switch” to cleaner and more efficient energy production—a transformation that will allow us to power a world with a growing population, in addition to growing energy needs. Not only has gross energy consumption increased, but much of this consumption has shifted to developing nations, bringing to bear questions of equity for economic development and its necessary energy needs. Energy trade balances (exports minus imports of energy products), as well as energy intensity (the amount of energy used per unit of GDP) problematizes state-centric notions of energy production and consumption. In short, Switch made students think about the complexity involved in energy issues.
EMPOWER students then participated in a game of jeopardy, highlighting key points made in the movie and discussed in the seminar. Teams of students and professors worked to gain the highest score – the fastest buzzer reactions and the strongest knowledge on energy sources and consumption receiving top scores. Winners of the game each received the grand prize of an EMPOWER laser pointer, along with bragging rights until the next edition of Energy Jeopardy.