The University of Nottingham is giving people the chance to get involved with the controversial debate surrounding ‘fracking’ by offering a free online course on shale gas.
Shale gas is seen by many as a cheap and clean source of energy, a low-carbon energy changer which could help to meet the world’s rapidly growing demands for energy. However, its growing popularity has not been without controversy.
Fears that the method used to extract shale gas, commonly known as fracking, is inherently unsafe, have led to environmental protests around the world. It is said to have caused earthquakes, ground and surface water contamination and ill health to both humans and animals.
Studying the science
Now, through a new four week course – Shale Gas and Fracking: the Politics and Science - people will be able to study the politics, economics and the science of shale gas.
The course is being offered by the University through FutureLearn – an online platform offering free course content from the UK’s top universities.
It is being run by Professor Sara O’Hara from the University’s School of Geography and Professor Mathew Humphrey from the School of Politics and International Relations. During the course, they will look at how shale gas was formed and how it is extracted through fracking.
An energy revolution
Professor Sara O’Hara said: “In a world where the demand for energy is on the rise and concerns about global greenhouse gases are widespread, the prospect of exploited shale gas has been viewed by many as a blessing that heralds the dawn of a new energy revolution.
“With the possibility that shale gas could drive out coal powered electricity generation, the benefit for both consumers and the environment is seen by some as a bridge to a low carbon future, a golden opportunity we should all embrace with open arms. Yet, despite all that may be in its favour, shale gas is mired in controversy around the world.
“In this course we will explore the issues and debates surrounding this increasingly important yet highly controversial energy source. We’ll look at how shale gas is formed, where it’s found and how it compares with conventional gas. We will look at how the gas is extracted and the costs and benefits of exploiting the energy source. What is the evidence of its environmental impact, how will it affect energy security around the world, is it a bridge to a low-carbon future? Or something that will lock us into a reliance on fossil fuels for years to come.”
The shale gas debate
During the course there will be an opportunity to hear the views from all sides of the shale gas debate, including Government departments, energy companies, environmental groups and academics working on the science and the politics of shale gas.
Professor Humphrey adds: “Throughout the course, we want you to join in with your views and be part of the public debate on shale gas. So have your say and get involved.”
The course starts on 2 February, to find out more about how to join, visit https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/shale-gas .
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers, in the top 10 for student experience according to the Times Higher Education and winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the THE Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top one per cent of universities by the QS World University Rankings, and 8th in the UK by research power according to REF 2014.
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