Topics in Energy Policy: Geopolitics of Energy

Dr. Anna Mikulska
Course Code: 
Energy Use

Course Description


Energy is one of the most powerful elements of world economy and politics. Energy powers our industry and transport, shapes our physical landscapes and personal habits, and provides services that make us comfortable and secure. It is the world’s largest business and a chief ingredient of state power. But it is also a curse that enables dictatorship and war, undermines democracy, and taints our environment. Internationally, it stitches together often very different countries in webs of mutual dependence.

In this graduate course, we will discuss global trends in the production and use of energy, its impact on the environment, and the geopolitical issues around energy security and trade using the United States energy developments and energy-related policies as a backdrop. We will look at policies such as the US ban on crude exports, regulation of LNG exports by FERC, the Jones Act, as well as environmental policies including but not limited to EPA’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. In this context we will explore theoretical debates about energy’s influence on governance and development around the world, and consider the future roles of big exporters in the Middle East and growing centers of demand in Asia. We will study innovations and events that have reshaped the energy landscape in the United States and other big consumers, and look at policies that are shifting economies away from fossil fuels and nuclear power. We will also get involved in these debates, drafting recommendations intended to inform government policy.


Section 402

Key Course Topics

  • Global Energy Evolution since 1859
  • Rise of OPEC, the 1973 Embargo, and the US Crude Oil Export Ban
  • Carbon Energy Sources: Oil, Natural Gas & Coal
  • Non-Carbon Energy: Renewables, Nuclear, and Efficiency
  • Energy Security in a Global Market
  • US Energy Revolution
  • Current Issues in North American Energy Policy
  • Energy, Pollution and Climate
  • Energy Issues in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe


  • Weekly summary papers (approx. 1,000 words, summary of weekly readings underlying major issues, debates or trends considered within them) 40%
  • Participation 20%
  • Final Research Paper and presentation (policy memo on topic to be approved with instructor; 3,000-5,000 words) 40%

Required Texts

  • Yergin, Daniel. 1991. The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Yergin, Daniel. 2011. The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. Penguin.
  • Levi, Michael. 2013. The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity and the Battle for America’s Future. Oxford University Press.
  • BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

View course syllabus.


This is an elective graduate course for students pursuing a Certificate in Energy Management and Policy. Undergraduate students who wish to enroll must first get approval.

Questions? Contact Cory Colijn at