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Below are samples of the course offerings focusing on the energy industry at both the business and other graduate schools at Columbia University. To download a complete list of classes offered in the 2012 spring semester, click here. To learn more about the Energy Club at Columbia Business School please contact one of the officers.


Energy Courses

  • Financing Energy and Power Markets

    The global energy industry is comprised of the largest and most interrelated set of businesses in the world. From its inception, the industry has grown dramatically to provide ever increasing amounts of energy and power to commercial, industrial and retail consumers around the world. Given its unique industry structure, specialized financing techniques have been developed to expand and/or complement conventional public and private financing alternatives. These specialized financing approaches have, in turn, allowed the energy industry to access an unprecedented range of capital sources to finance its increasingly complex and challenging business model.

  • New Developments In Energy Markets

    The energy industry is one of the largest in the U.S., and is central to the operation of the economy. Currently it is undergoing rapid and possibly dramatic changes. Those changes and the factors driving them are the subject of this course. The course starts with an analysis of the factors driving changes in energy markets the rise in oil prices, geopolitical and energy security concerns, and climate change and the need to decarbonize the economy. This introductory section will also review the regulatory framework of the energy industry. The next section of the course will focus on specific energy types and their economic and commercial characteristics. These will include solar thermal, solar PV, biofuels of various types, geothermal, wind, tidal, nuclear and then the use of energy in transportation (hybrid vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, electric vehicles). For each of these energy types we will talk about its general characteristics and then profile a company developing this energy type. Finally we will talk about the financing of new energy ventures.

  • Climate Change in Africa

    Anthropogenic climate change is fast becoming the pivotal issue of our time. Excessive carbon emissions in our atmosphere have begun to change the global climate and researchers predict more drastic changes in the future. Climate change is characterized not only by global warming but also by changing patterns of precipitation, temperature extremes, increased frequency of tropical storms, and rising sea level. These changes will have dramatic impacts on social development worldwide. Climate change may aggravate existing problems in the developing world, including overuse of natural resources and overpopulation. Africa in particular is projected to suffer more from anthropogenic climate change than any other region of the world, despite having contributed least to its causes. This is not so much or not only because climate change will manifest itself in more extreme form in Africa, but rather because Africa is more vulnerable. Therefore, though climate problems are inherently global in nature, they are of particular relevance to policy makers in Africa. This course will address the impact of climate change in Africa in two parts. The first half of the course will provide the global context for climate change adaptation in Africa, with readings from the 4th Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and discussion of global mechanisms in adaptation to climate change. The 4th Assessment report of the IPCC details the climate changes researchers have already observed worldwide. The report also assesses the probable causes of these changes and offers projections of future climate change. Additionally, IPCC researchers propose strategies to mitigate climate change effects on communities and nations while pursuing sustainable development.

  • The Role of Government in Advancing Corporate Sustainable Development

    Corporate sustainable development, as compared to more traditional approaches to environmental management, optimizes environmental and social performance to improve the long term competitiveness and asset value of the corporation. For companies focusing on sustainability, regulatory compliance is not viewed as an endpoint, but merely as one of many performance measures. The prime drivers for such companies are product differentiation, cost and risk reduction and efforts to enhance environmental and social conditions through its operations and the goods and services that it provides. Governments at all levels are beginning to play important roles in informing and engaging industry to advance sustainable development. Agencies are: changing procurement policies; providing technical support and incentives; facilitating environmental markets; and engaging in partnerships to conduct research and demonstration projects that test and establish best practices. This course will present the underpinnings and provide an introduction to the emerging field of corporate sustainable development. It will provide an historical perspective on its emergence and the expanding role of governments in fostering its widespread application. Finally, the course will address the challenges that our society faces in moving toward a truly sustainable economy, focusing on the need to further refine and scale-up the role of government as an important stimulus toward this transition. However, governmental agencies face numerous constraints in providing leadership on sustainable development, including limited financial and human resources and reactive legislative mandates that restrict the expenditure of large sums of public funding for the environment to the administration of command and control regulatory programs.

  • Investing in Emerging Markets

    The past few years have played host to a seismic shift in influence in the world economy, as emerging markets have risen in prominence. Indeed, Emerging markets now make up over 30% of the global economy. They have overtaken the US as well as the European Union as the largest economic zone in the world. More importantly, they contributed over 50% of global nominal growth in US dollar terms in the last three years, and are likely to represent even more in the coming quarters as growth slows in the developed world. As a result, emerging markets have moved center stage not only in the economic arena, but also in the business as well as in the investment world. Through a mix of analytical overview and case studies, the class will discuss the rise of emerging markets and its consequences from an investment point of view. It will explore current themes and developments in the financial markets of the emerging world. The goals of this class are to provide students with a solid understanding of emerging markets and give them tools that will help them understand the challenges and opportunities that investing in this sector may represent. The first two classes will focus on macroeconomic aspects, seen through the lenses of a 'public market' investor. The following two sessions will concentrate on emerging market investing: why build an allocation to emerging markets and how to invest. In the last three classes, we will discuss several investment themes that are likely to have a major impact on the investment and business world in the coming years. We will use specific case studies to illustrate these themes. Students are expected to have basic knowledge in Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Statistics and Finance. Previous experience in the finance industry will be a plus but is not required. The course will consist of seven lectures.

  • Environmental Politics & Policy Management

    Government, citizens, corporations, and community groups alike are increasingly aware of the shared environmental challenges our planet faces, and these parties have undertaken substantial efforts directed toward finding solutions to some of the most intractable and complex problems of sustaining life on this planet. The majority of these solutions rely on collective action and the establishment of government policies and regulations to address the inherent market failures and externalities associated with environmental pollution and natural resource degradation. These policies and institutions, and the processes that establish them, are by no means straightforward or simple. Even if we are able to identify and create environmental policies, we still face the challenge of implementing them and ensuring that they work. The course is therefore designed to give students interested in careers in environmental policy and management an understanding of the following: What are the politics of the environment policy making? What types of environmental policy tools are available to address environmental problems? What are some of the key management issues we face in implementing environmental policies? The goal of this course is to take a system-level approach to environmental policy problems. Issues presented include: defining the environmental problem, the politics of the environment, environmental agenda setting, pollution prevention, U.S. pollution control through regulation, public works and market incentives, cross-media and cross national environmental problems, and the response of societies, economies and political systems to environmental issues. The course will also discuss international environmental regime development, conflict resolution and citizen participation in environmental decision-making.

  • International Relations of the Environment

    This course examines issues central to the theory and practice of international environmental politics. It provides a foundation of conceptual frameworks and factual knowledge for individuals planning work in this or related fields. Readings, lectures and discussion address many issues but we focus on factors that contribute to or impede the creation and implementation of effective international environmental policy. The course consists of three interrelated sections: (1) The Process and Difficulty of Creating and Implementing Effective International Environmental Policy; (2) The Setting for International Environmental Politics: Actors, Issues, Trends, and Law; and (3) Causal Factors in Creating Effective International Environmental Policy and Regimes.

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis

    This course aims to provide an introduction to the basic principles of cost-benefit analysis, i.e., the economic appraisal of public investment projects, expenditures, programs, and regulations. I will begin with a relatively brief review of the techniques of financial appraisal (i.e. cash flow analysis) of projects, since similar techniques are used in most cost-benefit analysis exercises. However, while a financial analyst for a private, profit--making entity focuses only on the net cashflows the entity receives from a project, the cost-benefit analyst has to consider a proposal's economic costs and benefits from a societal perspective. This course should be most directly relevant for those who intend to pursue careers in the public sector as analysts/applied economists with governmental agencies, public authorities, multilateral institutions, or research institutes/think-tanks.

  • Electricity Markets

    Provides a detailed understanding of fundamentals of electricity dispatch and market design issues for electric energy, capacity and reliability. Policy issues in standard market design are explored. Issues associated with market access for demand response, distributed generation are explored. Electricity markets in developed and developing countries are examined and explored. SIPA: E&E- Energy Policy. SIPA: USP- Social Policy Track.

  • Petroleum Markets & Trading

    This course provides an introduction to the processes and issues involved in developing and financing a major international energy project. It examines the interests and roles of the project "stakeholders": governments of the countries in which the energy is produced and consumed; project sponsors (multinational oil and gas companies, state-owned enterprises and other equity investors); lenders (public and private); local partners; and energy buyers. The course will use as a model a multi-billion dollar project in the Middle East that supplies liquefied natural gas (LNG) to South Korea, India, Europe and the United States, and will compare this project with other LNG projects as well as an international oil pipeline project and an international power project.

  • Risk & Scenario Analysis Across the Energy Value Chain

    Bringing together insights from various parts of the IEMP program, this course aims to provide an integrated, interdisciplinary perspective on risk management in major oil and gas projects at both corporate and country levels. It explores the nature of risk-taking by international investors in large scale oil and gas projects, and places these risks within the context of sovereign objectives sought by producer countries. An original scenarios methodology and a typology of how 'sovereign' and 'market' objectives combine are used to explore the relationship between international investors, governments, national energy companies (NGOs) and local communities or stakeholders. Case studies from Eurasia make concrete the contemporary challenges for corporate-level risk management, as well as international energy policies and governance related to oil and gas investment.

  • Energy Business & Economic Development

    Energy is a key input and a key business in economic development. The course first develops the current understanding of the economic development process, with a focus on the role of energy, and energy businesses and markets. Then we examine development problems and policies in resource dependent economies, middle income reforming economies, low income economies and conclude with a look at the interface between economic development and environmental protection.

  • International Energy Project Development

    This course provides an introduction to the processes and issues involved in developing and financing a major international energy project. It examines the interests and roles of the project "stakeholders": governments of the countries in which the energy is produced and consumed; project sponsors (multinational oil and gas companies, state-owned enterprises and other equity investors); lenders (public and private); local partners; and energy buyers. The course will use as a model a multi-billion dollar project in the Middle East that supplies liquefied natural gas (LNG) to South Korea, India, Europe and the United States, and will compare this project with other LNG projects as well as an international oil pipeline project and an international power project.

  • Oil, Rights and Development

    This multi-layered role-playing simulation, based on a fictitious country, allows exploration of the challenges associated with initiation of a major industrial venture in a developing country as regards any or all of the following: macro-economic and political factors; identification of priorities; environmental management; complications arising from ethnic and religious conflicts; health management (including HIV/AIDS); community development aspects; reconciliation of the interests of a wide variety of stakeholders; media management; achievement of the largest possible "Circle of Consensus". The simulation is conducted over two consecutive days and some 50 to 80 participants role-play up to twenty separate entities, including an international industrial company and its competitor, government factions, opposition groups, a local community and wide varieties of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and of media. As in real life, some more general knowledge of the situation is available to all entities, but each one has sole access to information (which may overlap with that of others) which is unique to its own perspective. The emphasis is therefore on sharing and on cooperation to make progress against tight deadlines, on managing information of various degrees of reliability and of balancing conflicting demands. There is no "single right answer" but through the process participants have an opportunity to explore the interplay of a very wide range of factors and develop strategies which are based on a holistic appreciation of the problems involved and on creation of alliances which are by no means obvious at the beginning of the simulation.