18-883-L4   Integrated Energy Systems

Location: Africa

Units: 6

Semester Offered: Spring

Course description

Our energy systems – from electricity to cooking and transportation fuels – are at the core of our economies, powering commerce and industry. They are critical to achieving development goals like food security and universal access to quality healthcare. Energy systems are multidimensional and complex, and understanding these linkages is key to designing sustainable, low-carbon futures. This interdisciplinary course sets the foundation for future energy professionals by exploring how energy systems are integrated into and shape our society, and what this means for technology design and decision-making.

Learning objectives

This course unpacks timely, current case studies of energy projects across East and West Africa. Students will:

  • Identify data, methods, and tools for evaluating project impact
  • Develop and assess energy innovation opportunities
  • Recognize the critical social and cultural dimensions of Africa’s energy transition

Content details

This course explores questions including:

  • What are the latest innovations for integrating smart, new, digital technologies for electrification in Africa and what challenges do they solve?
  • How does energy access directly impact the future of agriculture, mobility, work, and the future of economic growth in Africa?
  • What environmental justice impacts does energy infrastructure have on marginalized communities in Africa?
  • How can data tools like the Multi-tier Tracking Framework or the Global Solar Atlas help us identify gaps and solutions for building sustainable energy systems?


Rebekah Shirley