Energy, Climate, and Michigan Communities

A five-week course bringing you the latest insights in energy policy, renewable energy, business sustainability, community equity, and resilience.

In this course, energy experts will share their knowledge to help us understand the challenges and opportunities of addressing climate change — and what we as individuals and communities can do about it. Increasingly, the impact of these changes is being felt at the local level - even in Michigan. Your choices matter - in the private sector, in local government and in your community. But what can and should you be doing?

Through local case studies, contextual global and national trends, and insights from guest energy experts, students will consider the roles business, economics, politics, ethics, environmentalism and communities are playing in either greening our energy sector—or not.


Five-week course

Future Dates TBD


Thursdays from 5:30 - 7 p.m.




Registration is closed

Meet Your Instructor

John A. Kinch, Ph.D.

John A. Kinch, Ph.D.

John A. Kinch, Ph.D., has directed the nonprofit Michigan Energy Options (MEO) since 2010. Under Kinch, MEO works with national partners, federal, state and local governments and industry leaders, striving to make clean energy a foundation of communities. Among recent achievements, MEO has brought online the first Michigan community solar park owned and operated by a non-utility nonprofit—and which won the Michigan Energy Project of the Year in 2019. MEO is the solar consultant to the State of Michigan. Kinch is a D.O.E. SunShot advisor, a municipal certified solar expert by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and serves on state and national clean energy work groups.

Read John's recent article The Sustainable Business Case for Solar on Brownfields.

Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone can get immense value from this course, but we believe it is most suited for:

  • Business and government professionals

  • Elected or appointed local officials

  • Engaged community members

  • College students

Week 1: Renewable Energy Policy: The Good, Bad and The Not Enough
National and state renewable energy policy has helped to make wind, solar and storage more widespread than it was even just a few years ago. But is policy driving the clean energy transition fast enough as climate change’s impacts increase?

Week 2: Solar Energy: The Promise and Challenge of an Unlimited Source of Power:
Solar power is becoming the go-to renewable for utilities, states and consumers. Yet, making solar projects happen is often difficult. Are we building enough, fast enough? We’ll learn what makes this industry tick.

Week 3: Community Energy Equity and Resiliency
Climate change disproportionally affects low-income communities. What’s being done to address this inequity?

Week 4: Decarbonizing the Business Sector
Some see the business sector as leading the decarbonizing of the economy given leading companies’ ambitious renewable energy and net-zero goals. We’ll learn about a West Michigan company at this forefront.

Week 5: Climate Action: Can We Actually Stop and Even Reverse the Levels of Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere?
Drawing down carbon dioxide and other emissions requires a coordinated effort among sectors of the economy and the world’s nations. What’s the energy industry’s role in leading, following or delaying this transition?

Class each week will focus on a particular topic with insights offered from a guest energy expert. The format will include a facilitated seminar/workshop with expert perspectives shared followed by engaging class discussions.

Students will also be encouraged to video-speak with or email Dr. Kinch during "office hours" each week should they have additional questions or topics for discussion.

Readings and/or podcasts will be shared weekly. You will benefit most if you plan on an hour or two of reading/listening each week to contribute to robust in-class conversations. As a non-credit class, you will not be assessed on your learning. Our focus is meeting your learning needs within the format of this course.

This is a beginner - intermediate level course.

The course will be held in person at the L. William Seidman Center at 50 Front Avenue SW in room 2001.

However, we offer a virtual option for those who need it. Please email us at r[email protected] if you will need a virtual option.

This is a non-credit class, and you will not be assessed on your learning.

Course Location

L. William Seidman Center at GVSU
50 Front Ave SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
*virtual option also available


**This class follows all applicable GVSU policies including COVID-19 safety protocols. View current protocols.**

Questions? Contact Us:

Erika Murphy, SHRM-SCP
Director, Executive and Corporate Education
(616) 331-7026
[email protected]

Page last modified November 11, 2022