21A.S01 Special Topic: Anthro-Engineering Decarbonization at the Million-Person Scale

21A.S01 Special Topic:  Anthro-Engineering Decarbonization at the Million-Person Scale
Fall 2022
MW 11:30-1
Units: Register for 12 units
Blanket HASS-S petition will be requested before the start of the term
Prof. Manduhai Buyandelger (Course 21A)
Prof. Mike Short (Course 22)
Dr. Rea Lavi
Deep decarbonization is only possible if all stakeholders agree to, and stand to benefit from, the process. In this pilot course, we will examine principles and case studies of "anthro-engineering," or approaching engineering problems from a human- and anthropology-first perspective, and we will physically undertake one. We will discuss how user-centric design, holistic ally and stakeholder inclusion, responding to cultural and political constraints on clean energy issues, and working in diverse groups on open-ended, problems can be more likely to succeed, with a focus on million-person scale decarbonization. This course will rely heavily on drawing lessons from discussions and case studies of similar attempts, what worked and what did not, and ultimately developing principles and methods for successfully decarbonizing a community. We will use Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, as the focal point of our course this year.

We will specifically explore the design and implementation of a molten salt heat bank, amenable to clean energy input by concentrated solar and nuclear power. This project-based class will take the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, as the base for prototyping a locally specific, culturally acceptable, and socio-economically viable reusable energy source. The class is a part of a larger project geared towards reducing the citizens’ dependency on their government and sustainably decarbonizing the city in the coldest and most polluted capital city on Earth. The goal is to target climate change and reduce poverty at the same time. 

The class combines lab-based prototyping of the molten salt heat bank with research on Mongolia’s geographic, climate, political economy, and socio-cultural specificities. It will be co-taught by anthropology and engineering professors. Students are required to attend the lab sections and lectures, carefully read anthropological and social science readings, and actively participate in class discussions and mini-projects that will lead to a greater understanding of how knowledge about a place and its people, across stakeholder groups, can help to design human-centered impactful energy resource.