Spring 2019 - MBB 302 D100

Energy: From Cells to Society (3)

Class Number: 3797

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 18, 2019
    Thu, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Energy sustains life, from early cells, through molecular machines and ecosystems, to industrial society. Social issues, such as the search for extraterrestrial life, obesity, death and climate change will provide context for understanding the science of energy. Breadth-Science.



  1. What is life?
  2. Origin of life
  3. Essential molecules of life
  4. Cellular energetics
  5. Energy and carbon cycles
  6. Obesity
  7. Earth's energy balance
  8. Fuelling society
  9. Extreme energy
  10. Alternative energy
  11. Energy and politics


Lectures, readings and team-based learning will be used to study the relationship between energy and life. Throughout the course we will ask (and answer) the questions: What exactly do we know? How do we know? And what are the limits of our knowledge? We’ll explore what makes a good scientific question. Students are expected to gain an understanding of how molecules, cells, organisms, ecosystems and societies use and transform energy. 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. Similarly, we will delve into obesity, providing students with an understanding that will immunize them from manipulation by the weight-loss industry. Above all, the course will leave students with a deep awe for the miracles of energy management that underlie their very existence.


  • in-class worksheets 15%
  • midterm 20%
  • term paper 35%
  • final exam 30%


This course is restricted to non-Science majors.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

  • Students are advised to review the plagiarism tutorial found at
  • 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 Students with Disabilities (778-782-3112 or e-mail:  csdo@sfu.ca)

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html 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. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html