Energy & Environment Secondary Field

The energy-environment challenge is a defining issue of our time, and one of Harvard’s greatest contributions to meeting that challenge will be the education of a new generation of leaders in science, business, law, and public service. Harvard has a responsibility to create opportunities for its undergraduate students to broaden and deepen their understanding of the complexities associated with energy and environmental issues, and provide them with the tools needed to address our challenges now and into the future.

The Environmental Science and Public Policy Concentration, in coordination with the Harvard University Center for the Environment, offers the Secondary Field in Energy and Environment (E&E) to increase students' exposure to, and literacy in, the interconnecting set of issues related to energy and the environment. Through debate and dialogue in coursework and seminars, students identify the obstacles, highlight the opportunities, and define the discussion for an energy-environment strategy for the 21st century and beyond.


In the context of the E&E program, 'Energy' refers to the production, distribution, and use of energy by individuals and society for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes - i.e., energy in the context of supporting the quality of both life and the economy. This includes the various technologies, policies, and challenges associated with meeting the increasing global energy demands in the 21st century and beyond. 'Environment' refers to understanding the relationships and balances of the natural and constructed world around us, at scales both local and global. This includes understanding how anthropogenic activities and policies affect the environment, such as the intimate relationship between energy demand, environmental quality, and climate change.  

Students from a wide range of concentrations, including the humanities, are invited to participate in the program to explore how different disciplinary perspectives on energy and environment intersect and inform one another.  For example, a student concentrating in English may wish to increase their knowledge of the environment and energy from the perspectives of environmental literature or history. Or, a student in the physical sciences may want to build upon their training by improving their understanding of climate dynamics and energy production to support their interest in materials science research and energy storage. All participating students share exposure to the core issues related to climate change, the consequences of energy choices, and changes in our physical and biological environment, preparing them to make informed professional and personal decisions about some of the most pressing societal challenges of the 21st century. 


The secondary field in E&E offers students in other concentrations an opportunity to complement their studies with coursework and experiences that will broaden their understanding of contemporary issues in energy and environment from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Students choose one foundation course from the following, each of which includes content related to both energy and environment:

ESE 6. Introduction to Environmental Science and Engineering (E. Sunderland, S. Wofsy)
ESPP 11. Sustainable Development (W. Clark)
GE 1085. Energy Resources and the Environment (J. Shaw)
GE 1094. Confronting Climate Change (D. Schrag)
GE 1137. The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change: Transitioning to a Post Fossil Fuel Future (M. McElroy)
GE 1158. Water and the Environment (K. McColl)

Students must choose three additional upper-level courses.
At least one course must be chosen from each of the two elective categories: Social Sciences and Humanities, and Natural Sciences and Engineering. View the complete list of course options.

Additional Requirements:
⠂During each semester there are several opportunities for E&E secondary field students to come together to explore various energy and environmental topics through facilitated discussions. These discussions require preparatory readings and/or prior attendance at a public lecture on campus, and students are required to attend at least one session per semester once they have been accepted into the program.
⠂Students must declare their engagement in this secondary field no later than the course registration deadline of their sixth term. They will then be assigned an advisor, following their submission of an anticipated course of study.
Note: Students may petition the ESPP Head Tutor, in advance, for the approval of any exceptions to the course options for the secondary field.


To apply to the Secondary Field in Energy & Environment program, please complete the application form, and send it to Lorraine Maffeo at the address listed below. 


Lorraine Maffeo, Program Administrator
Harvard University Center for the Environment
26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138