Jul 14, 2024  
2016-2017 Catalog 
2016-2017 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Energy Studies

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Dr. Joel N. Swisher, PE, Director

The Institute for Energy Studies at Western Washington University (WWU) is a unique, multi-college collaboration. Our programs are designed to meet growing demand, from students and Washington’s clean energy economy, for interdisciplinary education related to the science, technology, policy and business aspects of human production and use of energy.

Energy technology and policy is always at the nexus of our most daunting economic, environmental and security problems, where solutions require a fundamental understanding and system-level thinking. While energy use drives these problems, understanding the technology and economics of energy use enables powerful solutions in new technologies and policies to improve energy efficiency throughout the economy, reducing costs and emissions.

On the supply side, the electricity industry is evolving from a static, centralized structure toward dynamic, distributed models that meet the challenges of integrating and balancing resources as diverse as solar, wind, hydro, bio- and fossil-fuel energy with smart grids, smart buildings and plug-in vehicles. Technologies to make fossil fuels cleaner and substitute biofuels are in development. Our graduates will find opportunities to develop innovative ideas, from advanced technology to new business models, that transform the energy system toward a more sustainable path.

The energy programs at WWU are designed to be interdisciplinary in a way that provides both breadth and depth, with a practical toolkit of technical and analytic tools in a context of system-level thinking and understanding. We offer a BA in Energy Policy and Management, minors in Energy Science and Energy Policy, and an energy concentration in the Electrical Engineering, BS. As we develop new programs to complete the energy curriculum, students also have an option to design independent programs to suit their interests and abilities, in consultation with faculty and advising staff.

We expect that students will acquire the appropriate foundation in math and science underlying energy processes and systems, in a context of environmental science and greenhouse gas management. They will also learn applied energy economics and have the opportunity to build management or entrepreneurial skills and analytic tools in the key fields of electric power, energy efficiency and building science. We take a practical approach, using the campus and community as our laboratory and collaborating with leading utilities and energy firms in the region.

Graduates will acquire a strong blend of analytical and communication skills, along with energy-related expertise that energy experts have identified as essential to the workforce needs in Washington’s growing clean energy economy. At the same time, the program will integrate core strengths of WWU, including collaboration, practical innovation, community engagement, a global perspective and a sustainability focus, while advancing energy literacy at all levels of instruction.


The Institute for Energy Studies integrates rigorous educational programs, applied research and community service to meet the growing demand for interdisciplinary education and training related to the science, technology, policy and business aspects of human production and use of energy.


The Institute for Energy Studies is a regional and national leader in providing practical and innovative education of future energy experts and decision makers.


CHARLES BARNHART (2014) Assistant Professor. BS (physics and astronomy), University of Washington-Seattle; PhD (planetary geophysics), University of California-Santa Cruz.
ANDREW BUNN (2006) Professor and Founding Director, Institute for Energy Studies. BS (zoology) The Evergreen State College; MEM (resource ecology) Duke University; PhD (environmental science), Montana State University-Bozeman.
MARK BUSSELL (1990) Director and Professor. BA, Reed College; PhD, University of California-Berkeley.
REID DORSEY-PALMATEER (2015) Assistant Professor. BA (Economics), Pomona College; MA, PhD (Economics), University of Michigan.
DANIEL HAGEN (1988) Professor. BA, MA, PhD, University of California-Berkeley.
STEVE HOLLENHORST (2012) Professor and Dean, Huxley College of the Environment. BS, University of Oregon; MS, University of Oregon; PhD, Ohio State University.
XICHEN JIANG (2016) Assistant Professor. BA, University of Illinois; MS, University of Illinois; PhD, University of Illinois (electrical engineering).
BRAD JOHNSON (1997) Professor and Associate Dean, College of Science and Engineering. BS, University of Colorado, MS, University of Colorado, PhD, University of Colorado.
TIMOTHY KOWALCZYK (2014) Assistant Professor. BS (chemistry and mathematics), University of Southern California; PhD (physical chemistry), Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
TODD MORTON (1988) Professor. BSEE, MSEE, University of Washington.
DAVID PATRICK (1996) Professor. BS, University of California-Davis; PhD, University of Utah.
JENNIFER SELTZ (2012) Assistant Professor. BA, Brown University; MA, PhD, University of Washington.
ART SHERWOOD (2014), Professor and Director, IDEA Institute. BA, University of Wisconsin; MBA, Indiana University; MS, Indiana University; PhD, Indiana University.
SHARON SHEWMAKE (2013) Assistant Professor. BA, Duke University; PhD, University of California-Davis.
PETE STELLING (2011) Assistant Professor. BA, Western State College, Colorado; PhD, University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
JOEL N. SWISHER, PE (2014) Professor and Director, Institute for Energy Studies. BS (civil engineering), Stanford University; MS (mechanical engineering), Stanford University; PhD (civil engineering: energy and environmental planning), Stanford University.
PHILIP THOMPSON (2009) Associate Professor. BA, Kent State University; PhD, University of Arizona.

Other Departmental Information

Advising and Declaration Process:

Students must have confirmed admission to Western Washington University and met the grade and course requirements listed below. Students who wish to register for an Energy Studies major or minor should contact the Institute for Energy Studies office (Arntzen Hall 303). Students interested in the electrical engineering major with the energy concentration should contact the Engineering Technology program coordinator/pre-major advisor.

Grade Requirements:

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors. A GPA of 3.00 or above is required in courses for energy programs.


    Bachelor of Arts




      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

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