Mural by 'Green Flower'

Ecologise Foundation course in Energy and Energetics of Nature and Human Society

Most courses on energy deal with it in an instrumentalist manner, as if it were another substance that humans can tap and use for their benefit. Platform for Sustainability and Equity and Ecologise are pleased to announce an online course that places energy at the centre of all transformations— abiotic, biotic and in human society.

Foundation course in Energy and energetics of nature and human society

A six month online course starting March 2018

Organized by Platform for Sustainability and Equity (South India) and Ecologise


Energy is the mover and shaker of all things non-living and living. Without energy flows the universe would grind to a halt—completely. Yet, energy studies have not been given the importance they deserve. Most courses on energy, whether in engineering or economics, deal with energy in an instrumentalist manner, as if it were another substance that humans can tap and use for their benefit.

Platform for Sustainability and Equity (South India) and Ecologise are pleased to announce an online course titled “Foundation course in energy and energetics of nature and human society” that places energy at the centre of all transformations—abiotic, biotic and in human society.

The object of the course is to develop a core set of energy/energetics theoreticians and activists who will use energy as a tool to understand how:

  • Humans have used energy to arrive at the present juncture where society has become unsustainable and unequal.
  • To vision a future society that is sustainable, equal and peaceful; and intervene in all possible fields—politics, philosophy, economics, technology, culture, etc.—to build such a society.

This course is designed for anyone who has finished high school (12th Std) and has proficiency in English.  Proficiency in mathematics or the sciences is not a prerequisite.


The first part of the course will deal with energy flows maintain and change abiotic and biotic systems. The second part deals with how energy flows have played a central role in shaping human society; how human society’s primary endeavour throughout history was to expand its energy consumption, but to the detriment of the environment and other species, to a point where human society has become unsustainable; how historically a small fraction of human society claimed ownership rights over nature and usurped a major share of the energy harvested from nature and left only a small fraction for the large majority of humans with no such ownership rights, thus creating a class divided society.

The course consists of the following modules (sub-topics mentioned are a sample of the intended coverage):


Part 1: Energetics of abiotic and biotic systems

Module 1 (5 lectures)    Fundamentals of energy and energetics—concepts in energy and energetics, energy resources

Module 2 (3 lectures)    Abiotic planetary energetics—Earth’s energy balance, hydrosphere, atmosphere, geoenergetics, biogeochemical cycles

Module 3 (5 lectures)    Biotic energetics–Photosynthesis, metabolism, ectotherms, endotherms, human energetics

Part 2: Energetics of human society

Module 4 (8 lectures)    Social energetics—Basic concepts, generation of surplus energy and its central role in development of human society, energetics of human societies in various historical periods

Module 5 (9 lectures)    Consequence of fossil fuel overuse—Environmental degradation, peak oil, global warming

Module 6 (4 lectures)    Energy and inequality—Unequal energy exchange and its role in appropriation and accumulation of surplus energy

Module 7 (4 lectures)    Growth—Rates, sustainability definitions, relative risk, consequences of peak oil, global warming and inequality, ideologies that support growth

Module 8 (6 lectures)    Possible solutions—technological, philosophical, economic, institutional, community initiatives

Module 9 (4 lectures)    Energy scenarios today—global, India


Practical 1
Energy and carbon footprinting for individuals and nations 

Practical 2
Working out alternate energy plan for an Indian state that will move towards greater sustainability and equality

Practical 3
Writing a people’s energy and environment manifesto for an Indian state


  • The course consists of 48 lectures, each of about 45 minutes. The lecture duration has been kept small to reduce student fatigue.
  • Slides and an audio commentary will be prepared for each lecture. About two lectures will be sent electronically every week to the students.
  • An online discussion session will be held once a week in which all students will be hooked to a platform by video and/or audio links, so that clarifications and discussions on the topics covered may be done. These sessions are expected to be highly interactive.
  • Being a foundation course, topics such as thermodynamics have been given less importance than they deserve. These topics will be done in the advanced course.
  • Three practical exercises have been included in the course.
  • All lectures will be in English, but the weekly online discussion could be in languages other than English, provided there is a translator.
  • There will be a set of core course instructors covering different topics.
  • Occasionally a subject expert may be invited to join the discussion sessions.
  • Reading lists will be provided along with the lectures.
  • Course instructors may travel to different states occasionally to do face-to-face classes with the students from that state.
  • There are no current plans to affiliate the course to a university. However, if found expedient, this process could be initiated at a later date.
  • Course incharge: Sagar Dhara.



  • The course fee will be Rs 5,000 per student. This sum is payable in advance prior to the commencement of the course.
  • Serious but needy students may write to the course incharge and request for a course fee reduction or waiver. Each such application will be dealt with on an individual basis.
  • The course fee collected will not be used for paying honorariums to the instructors, but used for purposes such as travel by instructors to different states to do face-to-face interactions with students, and for such other similar requirements of the course.
  • Once we receive your application, we will intimate you regarding your acceptance for the course and if accepted, provide you with further information regarding how to pay the course fee, details of the course curriculum, reading material, etc.
  • Providing references of 2 persons, who have worked in the fields of energy, energetics, sustainability, social equality, economic equality, etc, will help your application approval process.
  • Those interested in joining the course may fill the application form (see below) and email it to Sagar Dhara and Hema Vaishnavi at by 28 February 2018.
  • For any further information, please contact Hema.




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