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University of Alaska Fairbanks

Powering Resilient Communities: A Holistic Approach to Food, Energy, and Water Security

University of Alaska Fairbanks via edX


This course provides research-based and on-the-ground tools for community planners, grid designers, and business leaders to improve and implement stronger and more resilient renewable energy systems in Arctic communities. Through a framework combining renewable energy in microgrids, and Food, Energy, and Water (FEW) security and infrastructure, this course synthesizes concepts into a holistic approach to community planning, improvement, and resiliency.

  • Learn about existing and emerging renewable energy sources and technologies and explore examples from Alaska, including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric facilities.
  • Examine underlying causes of food, energy, and water insecurity in Arctic, subarctic, and northern rural communities.
  • Gain insights into Arctic and subarctic lifestyles, including the roles and impacts of wild harvests, plant-based foods, and health disparities.
  • Learn about food, energy, and water security and analyze the interactions among food, energy, and water usage, for example: energy and water use in the production, transportation, and storage of food; energy usage in treating drinking water and wastewater for human health; water demands and fuel costs for electricity production; appropriate food systems, energy, and water resource usage and allocation; climate change impacts, fossil fuels and environmental impacts.
  • Gain specialized expertise on a variety of Arctic energy issues affecting its residents and Indigenous peoples, from engineering to social science to traditional community knowledge.
  • Learn the key concepts with practical, Alaska-focused examples.
  • Use real wind and solar data and various analysis tools to make community energy assessments.
  • Apply the FEW nexus approach to guide decisions about renewable energy alternatives.
  • Learn from National Science Foundation-funded researchers and staff from a variety of disciplines at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Calgary, Stanford, and the private sector. Connections with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, Award #1740075 INFEWS/T3: Coupling infrastructure improvements to food-energy-water system dynamics in small cold region communities: MicroFEWs.


Module 1: Life in Alaska

  • Introduction to Alaska
  • Introduction to the Food, Energy, Water (FEW) Nexus
  • Introduction to FEWtureville
  • Rural Electricity and Heating Systems
  • Rural Food Systems
  • Rural Water and Wastewater Systems
  • FEWtureville Case Study

Module 2: Energy Nuts & Bolts

  • Diesel Generators in Remote Communities
  • Renewable Energy Technologies
  • Energy Resource Data
  • FEWtureville Case Study

Module 3: Community Well-Being

  • What is Food, Energy, Water (FEW) Security
  • Factors Affecting FEW Security
  • Assessing FEW Security
  • FEWtureville Case Study

Module 4: Making Decisions

  • Electrified Load Applications
  • Analysis Tools: NRMSE Method
  • Analysis Tools: FEW Indices
  • Putting It All Together
  • The Years to Come

Taught by

Erin Whitney, Daisy Huang, Bill Schnabel, Srijan Aggarwal, Jennifer Schmidt, Chris Pike, Michelle Wilber, Henry Huntington, Michele Chamberlin, Daniel Sambor, Rich Wies, Jr., Gwen Holdmann and Christie Haupert


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