Summer Course on Clean Energy & Sustainable Ag

Sustainable Food and Farming majors at UMass are invited to apply for this free summer class.


SUS 220: Clean Energy and Sustainable Agriculture – 6 credits transferable to UMass

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Clean energy is becoming a priority as our global community faces the challenge of climate change. At the same time agriculture is changing to meet the needs of a more environmentally aware consuming public. In this intercollegiate and collaborative course students will learn how to apply clean energy technologies to sustainable agriculture practices. This class brings together students at Holyoke Community College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to learn a variety of emerging technologies. Topics will include solar, wind and geothermal technologies, ecological farming, greenhouse management, rainwater collection, root zone heating and considerations of social justice. This course is intended for second year students. Permission of instructor is required. Field trips will involve physical activity and appropriate dress.

  • Earn 6 Credits transferable to UMass
  • Monday to Wednesday 9:00am to 1:00pm
  • Thursday 9:00am to 3:00pm

COURSE OBJECTIVES: Upon completion of this course students will understand:

(1) the application of solar thermal energy in an agricultural setting;

(2) the application of solar photovoltaic energy in an agricultural setting;

(3) the application of wind energy in an agricultural setting;

(4) the application of geothermal energy in an agricultural setting;

(5) the use of biomass as an energy source in an agricultural setting;

(6) the production and harvesting of food;

(7) the management of greenhouses;

(8) the use of energy sources in greenhouses;

(9) the use of machinery, including solar tractors and cooling trailers, in an agricultural setting;

(10) food systems and social justice as it relates to food systems.

COURSE METHODS: This collaborative course will be taught by a number of instructors on three campuses; HCC, Hampshire and UMass Amherst. As outlined in the schedule there will be a variety of activities each day. Lectures, discussions and hands on activities will be the primary methods. This course will focus on clean energy sources with an emphasis on agricultural applications. We will present, in broad outline, the problem of climate change, the implication and the legacy of fossil fuel consumption, and the practicality of developing clean energy sources for environmental, societal, technological, and financial benefits. As much as possible students will be asked to discover answers for themselves, collaborating in small groups, and sharing their findings with their cohort. What are the benefits? Does the technology have applications in our area? What clean energy applications are already up and running in the Pioneer Valley? Have these applications lived up to their promise? While at Hampshire College, students will engage on multiple levels with several different energy technologies, including design and assessment of a mobile refrigeration trailer, alternative models for root and vegetable storage, electric tractor conversion, and solar arrays to power farm operations.   Students will learn in the classroom, on Hampshire’s 100-acre farm and in Hampshire’s innovative Center for Design laboratory. Students will visit other farms and operations that incorporate these technologies in different ways. Students should participate as reflective practitioners throughout the course.

TEXTBOOK: There is no textbook for this course. Materials will be distributed throughout the course as well as being posted on the course Moodle site.

METHOD OF EVALUATION: Students will be expected to keep a notebook/sketchbook. This will serve as a class notebook as well as a reflective journal. Reflective evaluative papers will be written every two weeks, as well as a final evaluation.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: While each student is expected to attend all classes, two excused absences will be allowed, and additional absences may be considered on a case-by-case basis. More than two absences may result in an administrative withdrawal. Consistent tardiness or leaving class early will be counted as absences.

Contact John Gerber to apply at

To see some video clips from our class last summer, see;

Class Videos

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