Summer 2021 - MBB 302 D100

Energy: From Cells to Society (3)

Class Number: 4575

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 12 – Aug 9, 2021: Tue, Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units. This course is only open to students in the Faculties of Applied Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Communication, Art and Technology, Education, Environment, Beedie School of Business and Health Sciences (Bachelor of Arts Degree Program only).



Energy flow drove the origin of life and is required to sustain life. From molecular machines to ecosystems, the capture and flow of energy defines life. Human use of fossil fuels is explored as a transformative evolutionary development. Breadth-Science.



  1. What is Energy?
  2. Living things from water, rocks, and the flow of energy
  3. Solar power and complex life
  4. Humans and energy: then and now
  5. Humans and energy: options for the future


Lectures, readings and team-based learning will be used to study the relationship between energy and life. Students will deepen their understanding of the scientific concept of energy and learn about the birth of life from rocks, water, and the flux of energy. They will learn about the major landmarks in life’s relationship with energy, from mitochondria and photosynthesis, to the discovery of fossil fuels. Students will learn how greenhouse gases are affecting Earth’s energy balance. Given that energy-related crises are central to current social upheaval, popular understanding of the science of energy and climate is subject to manipulation by those with vested interests. This course will provide students with the intellectual tools to evaluate the veracity of energy related claims.


  • in-class worksheets 15%
  • quizzes 20%
  • term paper 35%
  • Team presentation 1 15%
  • Team presentation 2 15%


  • Lecture: Synchronous (students are expected to attend scheduled lectures remotely)
  • Assessments: blended; both synchronous (mandatory attendance) and asynchronous assessments
  • Final Exam: No


This course is restricted to non-Science majors.

  • Access to high-speed internet
  • Computer with webcam



The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life, Nick Lane. 2015. W.W. Norton & Company. Available on Vital Source.
ISBN: 9780393248197

The Story of More, Hope Jahren. 2020. Penguin Random House Canada.
ISBN: 9780735275119

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN (hardcover) 978-0-525-65835-1 (e-book) 978-0-525-65836-8.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

  • For help with writing, learning and study strategies please contact the Student Learning Commons at
  • Students requiring accommodations as a result of a disability, must contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (778-782-3112 or e-mail:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Teaching at SFU in summer 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods, but we will continue to have in-person experiential activities for a selection of courses.  Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112).