Energy and Sustainability Curricula in Military Schools and Universities

Office of the Secretary of Defense
Office of the Secretary of Defense

Posted on November 20, 2020 | Completed on November 20, 2020

Where do energy management, water management, climate change, sustainable construction, waste management, and other energy and sustainability (E&S)-relevant topics fit into military educational institutions’ existing programs?

1. Inquiry

The Homeland Defense and Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC) received a technical inquiry (TI) from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installation, Energy and the Environment (DASA[IE&E]) asking where energy management, water management, climate change, sustainable construction, waste management, and other energy and sustainability (E&S)-relevant topics fit into military educational institutions’ existing programs (whether a full degree or certificate or just an elective or two). The inquirer was interested in information regarding a school, department, name of degree/certificate/class/lecture series, typical semester, and description [1].

2. HDIAC Response

The HDIAC analyst conducted a review of the websites of various military schools and universities to determine what energy and sustainability curricula they may have. The links at those schools and universities to their course catalogs are included. HDIAC queried members of its subject matter expert (SME) network in alternative energy to seek assistance and input. Finally, HDIAC also reached out to known contacts at military schools and universities.

3. Energy and Sustainability Curricula

There are a variety of energy and sustainability-related offers at military schools and universities, with the best offerings being at the service academies. They are broken down by individual service and also include a listing for joint schools.

3.1 Army

Army War College (

  • The Army War College (AWC) publishes its Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL) to inform students and faculty of strategic topics requiring research and analysis. One of its themes or broad topics for research is Theme 5 – How will major trends in the strategic environment, defense strategy and priorities, society, political authority, demographics, and technology affect the employment of Army forces? Within this theme are several issues AWC offers as research topics that support this TI:
    • What are the potential impacts of climate change on (a) the character of war, (b) vital U.S. national interests, (c) emerging security challenges for the United States, and (d) threats to Soldier readiness? How could these impacts affect land power and organizing, training, and equipping the U.S. Army?
    • Assess how energy and water security will be integrated into Army operations.
    • Assess how operational energy will affect the employment of the Army.
  • Seminar:  National Security Seminar.  This seminar is a four-day event that creates an environment for Army War College students and invited guests to examine current national security issues and exchange candid dialogue. Each year, approximately 160 invitees join resident student seminar groups for this event. These new members come from across the country and are a cross-section of American life. Although not specifically geared toward topics that this TI is focused on, those topics can be covered in lectures and seminar discussions.

Command and General Staff College

  • In a phone conversation with a faculty member, it was determined that the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS, does not currently have a course of study or electives that support this TI [2]. Nothing is taught in the core curriculum, and electives are focused on the Great Power Conflict.

U.S. Military Academy (

  • Course:  EV300 Environmental Science. As the introductory course to Environmental Engineering Sequence, EV300 provides a broad understanding of current global and local environmental issues. It specifically focuses on natural ecosystems processes, the effects of pollution on human health, assessing the level of risk associated with pollution, and the environmental effects of energy use, air pollution, global climate change, acid rain, and smog. Discussions of anthropogenic influences on the environment also consider social, economic, technological, and political impacts. Cadets learn to evaluate environmental issues through current events and interactive debates. A course project requires cadets to apply the scientific method to evaluate a current environmental problem and provides an opportunity to integrate multiple course topics, with an in-depth study of an issue of interest.
  • Course:  EV389B Climatology. Climatology investigates the earth’s atmospheric phenomena, giving special attention to the dynamic physical processes which produce weather and result in distinctive climates across the planet. A primary focus of the course is to examine how the climate system can impact humans, including an examination of human health, agriculture, and military operations. A similar emphasis is placed on ways in which humans can alter the climate through urbanization, pollution, and increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. Climate change policy and mitigation are also explored through scientific readings, and as differing viewpoints are presented, lively discussion and debate are encouraged. Numerous case studies are offered throughout the course, allowing students to apply climate data and information to problem-solving in real-world situations.
  • Course:  EV487 Environmental Security. This interdisciplinary seminar uses environmental security in a case study approach to analyze how environmental issues affect U.S. national security. Cadets explore environmental security topics such as water, natural resource shortages, energy use and dependency, and global climate change using an interdisciplinary approach from social, political, economic, and scientific-technological perspectives. The course culminates in a student team analysis of a developing country relating environmental security issues to U.S. national security interests.
  • Course:  XE442 Alternative Energy Engineering. This course provides a study of the fundamentals of alternative energy generation, storage, integration, and efficient use. Solar power (both solar thermal and photovoltaic), wind power, hydropower, fuel cells, and other sources of energy are covered. Focus is placed on energy conversion, modeling alternative energy sources, and integration of these sources into the power grid. The technical, economic, and political challenges associated with these alternative energies are covered in depth.
  • Course:  CE350 Infrastructure Engineering. This course identifies, analyzes, and assesses built infrastructure which is the foundation for modern society. The complex and interconnected nature of infrastructures is investigated and demands on critical components are calculated. Students explore the nontechnical factors necessary for the functioning of infrastructure, including supplies, trained personnel, and cross-sector dependencies. The course provides a basis for understanding the complexity and cost of maintaining, rebuilding, and developing infrastructure. Major blocks of instruction include water and wastewater, power, transportation, solid waste, communications systems, and sustainability. Several in-class scenarios are provided to synthesize the connectivity between the major items of infrastructure. Finally, as infrastructure is one of the six variables in the joint operating environment, the knowledge gained is employed to analyze infrastructure in the context of combat operations.

3.2 Navy

Naval Postgraduate School (

  • Course:  OS3613 Introduction to Energy Logistics in Warfare Operations. Studies in energy sources, distribution, and consumption focused on the sustainment of warfare operations. Energy sources include petroleum-based fuels, synthetic liquid fuels, and other alternative energy sources. Introductory distribution analysis includes requirements and vulnerability of operational logistics lines of supply by ship, rail, pipeline, trucks, and air. Introductory consumption analysis includes modeling of energy consumption logistics planning factors for ship, aircraft, and ground force operations. This course is designed for Distance Learning Energy Certificate students.
  • Course:  OA4613 Energy Logistics in Warfare Operations. Case studies and quantitative analysis of energy sources, distribution, and consumption focused on the sustainment of warfare operations. Energy sources include petroleum-based fuels, synthetic liquid fuels, and other alternative energy sources. Distribution analysis includes requirements and vulnerability of operational logistics lines of supply by ship, rail, pipeline, trucks, and air. Consumption analysis includes modeling of energy consumption logistics planning factors for ship, aircraft, and ground force operations.
  • Certificate Program:  Certificate in Energy – Curriculum 236 (DL). The Energy Academic Group’s Distributed Learning (DL) Certificate Program in Energy is designed to support the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy’s energy goals. The DL Energy Certificate provides those working military and civilian employees of the Department of Defense (DoD) the opportunity to understand the complex issues facing the operational and installation energy segments of the DoD. This program is designed to expose students to the technical, operational, and security aspects of DoD energy needs. Courses are offered via the web-based medium on a schedule of one course per quarter for four quarters. The certificate requires the successful completion of four graduate DL courses (minimum of 16 credit hours). Any of the four courses can be substituted with the corresponding Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) resident course. The Energy Academic Group academic associate may also approve a resident course that is identified as an elective in the Resident Certificate Program as a substitute for a DL course.
  • Course:  EC3240 Renewable Energy at Military Bases and for the Warfighter. The course introduces participants to current energy use at military bases as well as mobile platforms’ power sources. Participants are introduced to state-of-the-art renewable energy systems that would be utilized at military installations. This will include a detailed study of photovoltaic and solar energy use, an overview of wind energy and other renewable energy sources, and energy storage systems. Cost-saving comparisons and environmental impact will be conducted. The course will also investigate the use of some of these renewable systems in mobile platforms for the warfighters’ and expeditionary forces’ personal use.
  • Invited Talks/Seminars:  EN3000 Defense Energy Seminar. To ensure that students receive the most current and credible information, the NPS has invited talks from nationally and internationally known speakers. These speakers’ seminars will be an important contribution to the student’s overall education in energy and will help the student further develop the breadth required to understand and address the nation’s growing challenges in energy security.
  • Course:  MR3610 Modern Climatology. An Introduction to Physical Climatology and Its Applications. This course examines Earth’s climate system, especially major long-term global and regional patterns, and the physical processes that create them, with a focus on the application of physical climatology to solve operational DoD problems and analyze and forecast climate variations at intra-seasonal and longer time scales. Emphasis is placed on support of military operations, past, present, and future.

Naval War College (point of contact [POC] for information provided:  Ms. Laura Cavallaro, Lectures of Opportunity Coordinator,

  • Course:  EL775 Climate Change and National Security. This course explores one critical question – Is climate change, or the corresponding human security issues, a national security threat? Climate change, primarily considered an economic issue, is increasingly viewed as a security issue. Long assumed as a constant variable, the climate has emerged as an independent factor that changes the overall security environment. Within the national security community, climate and the corresponding human security topics are seen as the root causes and complicating factors of conflict. As a result, the National Security Strategy and other national strategies have begun to address some of these key issues.
  • Lecture:  previous lectures held at the start of the Fall 2020 Trimester included “artic,” “climate change,” and “sustainable blue economy.”

U.S. Naval Academy (

  • Course:  SO254 Introduction to Meteorology. This course serves as an introduction to meteorology. Topics include meteorological state variables, the equation of state for air, radiative balance, climate change and climate variability, atmospheric water vapor, cloud formation processes and cloud microphysics, forces involved in atmospheric motion, geostrophic flow, atmospheric stability, surface and upper analyses, and thermodynamic charts. This three-credit course includes a laboratory component that involves the analysis and visualization of meteorological datasets with MATLAB.
  • Course:  SO445 Global Climate Change. This course will review the science of climate and the natural factors that influence global climate on different spatial and temporal scales. It will also discuss how human activities may impact local, regional, and global climate. Global climate data, past and present, will be examined from geologic and modern records, including satellite data, land/sea observations, ice cores, etc. Related climate topics, such as the Ozone Hole, Greenhouse Effect, and El Nino, will also be reviewed.
  • Course:  EM443 Energy Conversion. This course will review the fundamentals of applied energy systems, including types and sources of energy; forms and methods of energy delivery; and the sectors, magnitude, and use patterns of energy consumption. It will focus on the U.S. national energy situation, including energy conversion processes in existing and projected power, transportation, heating, and cooling systems, with emphasis on efficiency, economic viability, and environmental impacts; traditional and nontraditional fuels; nuclear energy systems; alternate energy systems; and methods of energy storage.
  • Course:  FP345 Environmental Politics and Security. This course examines major environmental problems currently influencing U.S. domestic and security policies and explores major theories and public policy controversies related to global warming, pollution, land, air, water degradation and scarcity, and biodiversity. Enduring and novel ethical issues will also be discussed, with special emphasis placed on DoD environmental programs.

3.3 Marine Corps

Marine Corps War College (

  • Lesson: 8838 Artic Security Case Study. This is a lesson taught in the Joint Warfare course, a portion of the Marine Corps War College curriculum. Specifics about the lesson were not found online; with a focus on the Arctic, there would likely be a discussion of climate change and its impact on Arctic security.

Command and Staff College

  • Following a review of the Command and Staff College website (, and as with Army CGSC, it appears that Command and Staff College does not focus on a course of study or elective in support of this TI.

3.4 Air Force

Air War College (

  • Seminar:  National Security Forum. Each year, the Air War College, on behalf of the Secretary of the Air Force, has hosted approximately 150 civilians from across the country at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL. The forum, similar to the National Security Seminar week at the Army War College, aims to share perspectives between key civic leaders, senior military officers, and highly experienced government civilians on current and future topics pertaining to strategic leadership, strategy, national security decision making, warfighting, and global security. Although not specifically geared toward topics that this TI is focused on, those topics can be covered in lectures and seminar discussions.

Air Force Institute of Technology (POC for information provided, Michael R. Grimaila, Ph.D., Professor and Head, Department of Systems Engineering and Management,

  • MS program (ABET and non-ABET versions): Environmental Engineering and Science. From the course catalog (“ENV Blue Book”):  The Environmental Engineering and Science program is conducted in six academic quarters and a short fall term (18 total months, beginning in September) for full-time students. The short fall term program provides an orientation to the school and curriculum, a review of basic mathematics and chemistry, an introduction to the computer systems serving AFIT, and an overview of the environmental engineering and science program. The degree requirements for the Environmental Engineering and Science degree will include specified environmental engineering and department core classes plus a specialty sequence, thesis, and electives. The specialty sequence is intended to develop students’ in-depth knowledge of a specific area of environmental engineering and science. A 12-quarter hour QH thesis with oral defense is also required. The thesis must address a real-world problem in engineering or environmental science. Principal purposes of the thesis are to demonstrate the student’s ability to integrate concepts and techniques acquired through course work and to demonstrate scholarly pursuit of a focused research question, all of which leads to enhanced capability of the graduate to pursue technical problems creatively and effectively across a broad spectrum of areas. Electives are offered in addition to the degree requirements to broaden the student’s horizons and/or provide more in-depth knowledge in a specific area of research that the student may be pursuing.

U.S. Air Force Academy (curriculum

  • Course:  Chem 381 Chemistry of the Environment. Discussion of the chemistry and alteration of the natural environment due to human impacts. Areas of study include atmospheric, soil, water, 265 and industrial chemistry, environmental contaminant properties, hazardous materials, waste disposal, toxicology, and environmental analytical techniques. Special topics of current or regional interest may be included. Emphasis is on understanding the chemical principles, phenomena, and basic chemistry associated with protecting and improving our environment. Final exam or final report.
  • Course:  Civ Engr 356 Sustainable Engineering. This course covers sustainability and green engineering principles, including infrastructure design, green buildings, life cycle assessment, sustainable retrofitting, renewable energy, and climate change. Building on prior courses in engineering, the course develops cadets’ ability to apply engineering fundamentals in complex environments. The course will outline commonly employed sustainable engineering principles, metrics, and evaluation techniques. At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to integrate and advocate for sustainability principles in plans and decisions affecting the built environment. The course will integrate case studies and will include student projects on course topics applied to Air Force installations.
  • Course:  Civ Engr 365 Sustainability and Green Engineering. Students in this course will learn about sustainability and green engineering principles as they relate to manufacturing, the built environment, and energy. The course will outline commonly employed green engineering principles, metrics, and assessment techniques. Topics associated with the built environment may focus on high performance and sustainable buildings, as well as leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) accredited professionals’ examination topics. Traditional, renewable, and sustainable energy sources will be discussed, along with the requisite background necessary to understand climate change as a motivating factor and energy and power consumption. The course is case study-based and will include multiple student projects on course topics that have Air Force implications.
  • Course:  Mech Engr 468 Sustainable Energy. Current and potential future energy systems are covered, including resources, extraction, conversion, and application with sustainability as a major consideration. Different renewable technologies will be considered as possible replacements for more conventional energy technologies.

3.5 Joint & Department of Defense

National Defense University (The National Defense University is made up of five schools. Its online course catalog is at

  • Course:  ES6651 Research Elective. Offered in the Eisenhower School, a student may choose a research project appropriate to the concerns of the Eisenhower mission in lieu of one elective. The project should be of such scope that it can be researched and written in one semester. It is anticipated that such projects will normally be between 25 and 35 pages long.
  • Course:  ES6691 Research Elective. Offered in the Eisenhower School, a student may choose a year-long research project appropriate to the concerns of the Eisenhower mission in lieu of two electives, with the consent of the Research Director and Faculty Research Advisor. It is anticipated that such projects will normally be between 35 and 50 pages long.
  • Course:  NWC6049 Southeast Asian Security. This is an elective offered in the National War College. The 10 countries of Southeast Asia, with a combined population of over 650 million and enormous diversity, have a host of security challenges. Several Southeast Asian states have longstanding territorial disputes with their neighbors and irredentist claims over colonial-drawn borders. Arguably the greatest security threat to the region comes from climate change, which is already causing changes in immigration patterns and impacting food security. Southeast Asian states are keen to avoid being forced to choose between the United States and China, as competition between the two intensifies.
  • Course:  NWC6039 The Threat of the Century: Global Climate Change and Its Implications for National Security. This is an elective offered in the National War College. The world’s climate is changing rapidly, with current projections indicating the planet will be at least 3.5 °F warmer than the pre-industrial period by 2050. This course examines risks to U.S. and allied interests that will result from rising seas, resource conflicts, mass migration, and other anticipated effects of global climate change.

National Intelligence University (

  • Course:  MST672 Intelligence and the Changing Global Resource Environment. This course introduces the degree candidate to the complexities of global resource interdependencies and how they can impact national security and international stability. It takes an integrated approach to analyzing global resource issues using intelligence products and open-source materials to strategically identify and understand resource-related trends and interdependencies that can be disruptive. The course challenges the student to identify intelligence questions inherent to land, water, energy, food, health, and critical materials in the context of national security, technology, geopolitics, and economics. Understanding resource trends and interdependencies in multiple contexts is essential to anticipating potential future disruptions triggered by or rooted in them. Furthermore, it is an essential starting point for understanding how resource issues can impact other strategically important intelligence issues.
  • Course:  MST675 Electrical Power Systems and Distribution. Modern electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution systems are the interconnected networks for delivering electricity from suppliers to consumers. They consist of generating stations, renewable and small-scale electricity sources, transmission systems, and distribution systems that deliver electric power to individual customers. Power generation systems represent a vitally important strategic resource because they provide the infrastructure for transmitting and transforming energy for industrial, communication, military, and transportation uses. At the same time, these systems are part of a larger, massively integrated system of critical infrastructure with numerous interdependencies and supply chain dependencies. This course introduces power generation, transmission, and distribution in the context of intelligence and national security and provides students with an understanding of the modern systems that provide electrical power. It also covers aspects of the history and economics of power production, modern power systems, smart grid technologies, and current worldwide regional trends in power production including threats and supply chain issues.

4. HDIAC SME Network Assistance

The HDIAC SME network is one of the Center’s most valuable resources, as it provides a body of knowledge and depth of experience that is far greater than any single person or entity. From time to time, the HDIAC SME network is sought out to assist in answering a technical inquiry. For this TI, the SMEs supported the effort by providing points of contact information at the Naval War College and the Air Force Institute of Technology.

5.  Summary

There are considerable opportunities for military and DoD civilian members to receive training and education in energy management, climate change, sustainability, and other related topics. With this TI response being limited to the time that can be put toward the research, a next step could potentially involve using HDIAC’s Core Analysis Task (CAT) non-compete contract vehicle to support additional research into assessing various curricula for their content, taking advantage of HDIAC’s partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other sub-contractors to develop recommendations for improving the curricula and developing and providing training courses based on the assessments and recommendations.


HDIAC would like to acknowledge the following members of its SME network for their contributions in the preparation of this report:

• Jeth Fogg, Ph.D., Engineer Operations & Environmental Chief, NORAD and USNORTHCOM,
• Lee Miller, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, R&D Climate Impacts Group,


[1] Strogen, B.  Military school curricula – E&S touchpoints, email correspondence, November 8, 2020.
[2] Whelan, C., LTC/P.  Personal communication/interview.  U.S. Department of Joint, Interagency, and Multinational Operations, 12 November 2020.

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