Peter J Wilcoxen > PHY 498 Capstone Seminar in Energy and Its Impacts

General Information, Textbook and Requirements

Fall 2020

General information that you may need at the beginning of the semester.

Required Reading

No required textbook. Required readings will consist of selected articles assigned during the course of the semester.

Learning Outcomes

Through this course you will learn how to examine energy-related issues from the full range of relevant perspectives. You will practice interdisciplinary teamwork and produce an in-depth professional-quality evaluation of an energy-related project, problem, or business proposal.

Course Requirements

This course focuses on applying interdisciplinary analyis to develop pragmatic solutions to concrete, real-world energy problems.  Students will work in interdisciplinary teams to address issues arising in the Syracuse community or central New York region.  The first few weeks of the semester will be devoted to development and refinement of term project proposals. The remainder of the semester will consist of weekly progress reports from the teams, along with the milestones discussed below. Grades will be based on quality of the interim progress reports and the final presentation and written report.  Attendance is expected at all class meetings. 

Term Project

The term project will be carried out in a series of stages and will involve the following assignments or "milestones":

Primary and Alternate Proposals

Due 9/9.  The team will be responsible for submitting two (2) preliminary project proposals.  One should be the primary project the team would like to carry out, and one should be an alternate, second-choice, project the team would carry out if the first project fails its feasibility assessment (below) or runs into other serious obstacles.

Each preliminary project proposal should be 1-2 single spaced pages.  It should be an executive summary of the project including each of the following:

  1. The title of the project;
  2. A target organization or specific decision maker that you hope to persuade to carry it out;
  3. A brief explanation of the problem the project addresses and why it is important;
  4. A short explanation of the proposed solution;
  5. A discussion of the key data that will be needed and how it will be obtained.

The proposals will be submitted via Blackboard, preferably as PDFs.

Feasibility Assessments

Due 9/23.  The team will submit feasibility assessments of the primary and alternate project proposals.  The contents and structure of a feasiblity assessment are described in more detail here. The files will be submitted via Blackboard.

Draft Presentations

Due 11/4. The team will submit a complete presentation and will present it to the class.  The team will then prepare and present a revised presentation the following week.

Final Presentation

Week of 11/18. Date to be determined depending on availability of outside participants.

Academic Integrity

Overall Policy: Syracuse University's Academic Integrity Policy reflects the high value that we, as a university community, place on honesty in academic work. The policy defines our expectations for academic honesty and holds students accountable for the integrity of all work they submit. Students should understand that it is their responsibility to learn about course-specific expectations, as well as about university-wide academic integrity expectations. The policy governs appropriate citation and use of sources, the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments, and the veracity of signatures on attendance sheets and other verification of participation in class activities. The policy also prohibits students from submitting the same work in more than one class without receiving written authorization in advance from both instructors. Under the policy, students found in violation are subject to grade sanctions determined by the course instructor and non-grade sanctions determined by the School or College where the course is offered as described in the Violation and Sanction Classification Rubric. Syracuse University students are required to read an online summary of the University’s academic integrity expectations and provide an electronic signature agreeing to abide by them twice a year during pre-term check- in on MySlice.

Online Exams: All academic integrity expectations that apply to in-person exams also apply to online exams. In this course, all work submitted for exams must be yours alone. Discussing exam questions with anyone during the exam period violates academic integrity expectations for this course.


Syracuse University values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to a climate of mutual respect and full participation. There may be aspects of the instruction or design of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion and full participation in this course. I invite any student to contact me to discuss strategies and/or accommodations (academic adjustments) that may be essential to your success and to collaborate with the Center for Disability Resources (CDR) in this process.

If you would like to discuss disability-accommodations or register with CDR, please visit Center for Disability Resources. Please call (315) 443-4498 or email for more detailed information.

The CDR is responsible for coordinating disability-related academic accommodations and will work with the student to develop an access plan. Since academic accommodations may require early planning and generally are not provided retroactively, please contact CDR as soon as possible to begin this process.

Religious Observances

SU religious observances notification and policy, found at the URL below, recognizes the diversity of faiths represented among the campus community and protects the rights of students, faculty, and staff to observe religious holidays according to their tradition.  Under the policy, students are provided an opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements that may be missed due to a religious observance provided they notify their instructors before the end of the second week of classes for regular session classes and by the submission deadline for flexibly formatted classes. If you prefer, however, you can notify me directly by email. In either case, just check with me and we'll work out an arrangement that fits your schedule.

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Peter J Wilcoxen, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 09/09/2020