- Certificate Overview
- Certificate Requirements
- 2017-18 GEDS Course Schedule
- News and Events
What is the GEDS Certificate?
A multidisciplinary certification that will:
- Provide the analytical tools and frameworks necessary for assessing and addressing the long-term social, economic, and environmental impacts of energy projects.
- Introduce “best-practices” for creating energy projects that benefit all stakeholders (communities, companies, governments) in developing nations.
- Help students in understanding the origins of “the natural resource curse.”
The Global Energy, Development, and Sustainability (GEDS) graduate certificate offers students a unique, multi-disciplinary curriculum focused on the petroleum industry and society. Our classes are designed and taught by UH faculty and energy experts from Houston and beyond in an environment of academic rigor and diverse real life international industry and civil society experience. The GEDS certificate is the only one of its kind, teaching critical and timely theory, practice, and skill sets in global oil and gas history, economics, environmental impacts and policy, legal frameworks, community engagement, social justice, corporate social responsibility, human resource management, and risk analysis.
This certificate is important because in many regions and nations, the advent of oil or natural gas production has not brought positive benefits to the society at large. Despite large amounts of foreign investment and a massive influx of oil revenues, economies tend to fluctuate and stagnate, governments may fail, corruption often increases, standards of living do not increase for the majority of the population, and violence can erupt. The technical expertise of companies and governments is focused on safe and efficient extraction of resources; however converting energy projects into sustainable socio-economic opportunities and development for communities, regions, and countries requires individuals and organizations with different skills – an understanding of the contexts and the tools and practices that help mitigate the “resource curse.”
The GEDS Certificate can benefit those working or intending to work in the energy sector such as industry professionals, government officials and regulators, members of civil society and think tanks, policy makers, consultants, advisors, and graduate students from related fields. Those in existing oil and gas producing countries as well as those in countries considering first-time development can use our approach to navigate and chart collaborative, innovative courses for positive change.
What types of knowledge will I gain, and how will it improve my professional skills?
- Best practices for achieving local content strategies and compliance, developing culturally-appropriate training and development programs.
- Understanding of diverse energy histories and operating standards of oil and gas-producing nations around the globe.
- How company and government actions impact the country/community/environment, and techniques for establishing stronger partnerships.
- An introduction to the politics, history, cultures, and social values of specific oil-producing peoples/regions.
- Tools necessary for understanding industry and government economics, production sharing agreements and concession requirements, fiscal terms and policies, transparency and disclosure.
- The legal frameworks and provisions of host-government contracts and national laws, the efficacy of industry-created Codes of Conduct, and the impact of international organizations and operating guidelines.
- Certificate seekers must complete 9 units (126 coursework hours in class and online) from GEDS course offerings. Courses are team-taught by multi-disciplinary UH academics, energy industry, environmental and civil society specialists. Hybrid courses are offered as 3 unit credits (and occasionally 1.5 unit credits). Open enrollment is available (complete certificate over three years).
- Applicants may include professionals (industry, civil society, government, etc.), graduate students, and UH advanced undergraduates (not certificate-eligible, must meet additional application requirements).
- International Students must have completed a 4-year undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and must obtain their own a F1 (student) or other applicable visa.
Three annual GEDS options:
- Full Semester Certificate: Coincides with regular academic semesters including 1-3 course offerings per semester.
- Executive Certificate: 3-week intensive course plan (32-40 hours/week). The plan is offered 1-2 times per academic year with a floating schedule.
- Custom Certificate: Adapted for specific client’s needs offered domestically or internationally for 10 or more participants. Contact the Associate Director.
Foundations Theory & Practice: Understanding the “Natural Resource Curse”
In this course students will gain a foundational knowledge of how the global oil industry operates today, how it has operated in the past, and how and why some nations have been able to benefit from their petroleum industries while other have suffered negative effects. We will delve into the scholarly literature dealing with what has come to be called the “Natural Resource Curse” or the “Oil Curse.”
Academic and on-the-job (applied) approaches to oil curse challenges will be introduced by scholars, current-day oil industry experts, and civil society representatives that have grappled with aspects of the “Oil Curse.” By requiring students to read beyond their own fields of expertise, the GEDS Foundations course will develop advanced analytical and problem-solving skills that will prove invaluable on the job.
Environmental Impacts and Policy
This course is designed to inform students of the complex environmental issues, past and present, and environmental impacts associated with historical and current oil and gas development in the US and abroad. Through case studies, students will learn how companies, local communities, and government entities have dealt with various environmental challenges.
Each session will focus on one or more key knowledge sets that will help to equip students with analytical tools for future work within the energy sector in different regions. These knowledge sets are geared toward informing the decision making process for mitigating potential environmental, regulatory, and legal problems, and for planning sustainable project development such as: Environmental Impacts;
Environmental Regulations: Industry led versus government led; Responses to environmental crises and;
Provide a road map based on lessons learned.
Corporate Social Responsibility for Sustainability
The energy industry is diverse, complex and dynamic. It also has a significant impact on communities and many segments of the world economy and politics. The main purpose of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the various aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the energy industry, primarily studying these concepts in upstream and midstream oil & gas sectors. By successfully completing this course, students should understand and be able to articulate the key elements, opportunities, risks, and challenges of CSR with regard to competing interests (government, corporate, society).
Real world examples are used to illustrate factors that impact the profitability but do not lend themselves to be readily modeled. The question of whether a proactive approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be used to enhance profitability will be studied. Experts in their respective fields will join the class as guest speakers and share their experiences in managing some of the tougher challenges in the industry.
Creating Competencies in the Local Energy Workforce/Local Businesses
This course serves as an overview of workforce development issues in the international oil and gas industry. Concepts regarding promoting sustainability through creating local business competencies will be explored and explained. Three case studies in Angola, Nigeria, and Houston will investigate workforce development challenges in the global energy industry.
The overall course objectives for participants are to: gain an understanding of energy specific challenges as they pertain to the development of human resources in emerging market economies and in developing countries; learn methodologies for measuring job requirements and employee knowledge, skills, abilities and orientations to ascertain job requirement – employee match; develop personnel selection and training solutions to meet energy workforce demands and create a competent local energy workforce; and gain an understanding of barriers to local companies gaining business in the oil sector and how international oil companies can assist in overcoming those barriers.
Community-Centered Approaches & Social Justice
In this course, through a social science approach, students will gain skills to critically identify and analyze key challenges and opportunities facing oil and natural gas extraction’s impact on social factors and sustainable development in oil producing communities. We will locate key junctures where intervention decisions could mitigate the negative impacts of extraction on local, regional, and national communities. Specifically, we will investigate concepts such as ethnicity, power, health, religion, social and environmental justice, and corporate social responsibility from an emic perspective in order to enhance understandings about the importance of breaking cycles of extractive injustices, often leading to violence.
The course will explore in detail different questions and issues with regards to the stakeholders’ roles in the energy development and its relation to social factors and the environment. This course provides professionals, policy makers, and community stakeholders with a culturally relevant, preliminary understanding of social challenges and opportunities facing energy development. As such, students will learn methodologies to develop social frameworks to address stakeholder priorities and cultural dynamics using best policies and practices. These skills have potential to enlarge participation, improve transparency, and narrow knowledge gaps between energy companies, local and state governments, and civil society.
Legal Frameworks for Sustainable Petroleum Development
This GEDS law unit will survey the International Operating Companies' (IOCs) responses to pressures to improve the socio-economic and environmental effects of their operations, and how some of the legal principles, particularly in human rights, are being operationalized through "soft law" codes of conduct, such as those developed under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
Students will be introduced to many sources of law that act on multinational corporations and particularly on IOCs as they pursue operations abroad, notably international law, U.S. law that has extraterritorial effect, host government laws, and obligations in petroleum development contracts. In the past two decades, all of these sources of law have significantly increased the formal and informal regulation of IOC operations by: courts, arbitrators, industry trade groups through the development of Codes of Conduct, international organizations (such as the United Nations and the World Bank), NGOs, academic centers and the media. Many of these institutions have developed legal frameworks to mitigate the effects of certain impacts identified with the "resource curse," such as human rights violations, revenue transparency, local community benefit agreements and grievance mechanisms. IOCs and industry associations often build "strategic alliances" with non-industry groups, including NGOs, to identify "best practices."
PetroCultures: Global Identities in the Age of Oil
This course investigates how global cultures experience petroleum extraction, production, and consumption. As fossil fuel dependency impacts cultures in differing ways in both sites of extraction and consumption, we will take an in-depth look at the (un)conscious responses to our carbon world.
How are identities, understandings of community, and of the environment shaped, embraced, and contested. Using examples from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, students will gain fresh perspectives on practices that drive and determine petroleum cultures such as socio-politics, religion, organization, mobilization, gender, protest, militarization, and globalization. As we delve into the immense diversity of cultural patterns throughout the world, we will come to appreciate the complexities of living in petrocultures and uncover some of the layers of meaning for our own lives as well as for others, with less bias or preconceptions.
For enrollment assistance and navigating the application process, including step by step instructions, please contact the GEDS Associate Director, Dr. Rebecca Golden Timsar.
Two enrollment options are available to all applicants:
- UH Graduate School: This GEDS certificate option is for those professionals and students seeking transcript credits. For current UH students, courses may count towards degree electives. Contact your graduate advisor or GEDS Associate Director for assistance. Application process may take several months for international applicants. All certificates issued by the UH Graduate School.
- Continuing Studies/Open Enrollment: For professionals and students seeking the GEDS certificate and rapid enrollment. Transcript credits through the UH Graduate School are not issued with Continuing Studies. Instead, Continuing Studies Units (CEUs) are provided. Application process can be completed in a few days for domestic and international students. All certificates issued by UH GEDS.
The GEDS Graduate Certificate is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS).
Because UH is a state school, you must provide proof of residence when you apply and there is a difference in costs charged by the Graduate School. If you are a resident of Texas, you should apply as a resident. If you are an out-of-state or international resident, applicants should apply as non-Texas residents.
The cost for in-state residents is approximately $500 per credit hour, or $4,500 for the complete certificate. The cost for out-of-state and international students is approximately $1,000 per credit hour or $9,000.
All US resident applicants must complete their applications one month before the first day of class. International applicants must complete their applications two months before the first day of class.
Continuing Education courses are charged at the same rate whether you are a Texas resident, an out-of-state resident, or an international student. All students that enroll through Continuing Studies are charged $1,000 per credit hour, or $9,000 for the Certificate.
All Continuing Studies applicants must complete their applications one month before the first day of class, which includes a personal statement and a curriculum vitae sent directly to the Associate Director.
2017-18 GEDS Course Schedule
Spring 2017 - Full Executive Certificate Offering
Executive Certificate: May 8 – May 26, 2017
3-week intensive course plan (32-40 hours/week)
Summer 2017 - One GEDS course offering (3 credits)
Foundations Theory & Practice: Understanding the “Natural Resource Curse”
Mini-semester II: June 5 - July 1, 2017
Class Meeting Dates: June 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 and July 1
Tuesdays, 5:30 - 8:30pm | Saturdays, 9:00am - 4:00pm
Fall 2017 - 2 GEDS courses offered
1/ Combination Course: Environmental Impacts and Policy & Corporate Social Responsibility for Sustainability = 3 credit hours
Class meeting dates: August 25, Sep 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Oct 6, 13
Fridays 8:00am - 12:00pm
2/ PetroCultures: Global Identities in the Age of Oil | Full length semester undergraduate/graduate course offered through the Honors College = 3 credit hours
Tuesdays/Thursdays 4:00 - 5:30pm
Spring 2018 - 2 GEDS courses (3 credits)
Combination Course: Community-Centered Approaches and Social Justice in the International Oil and Gas Industry & Legal Frameworks for Sustainable Petroleum Development = 3 credit hours
Student Resources: Graduate School Admissions | Continuing Education Admissions | UH Academic Calendar
Office: AH 526
Dr. Kairn Klieman is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston and the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Energy, Development, and sustainability.
Klieman is a specialist in African history, a Fulbright Scholar, and a former Peace Corps volunteer (Zaire, 1984-1986) with many years experience in Africa. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1997, where her work focused on pre-colonial Africa and the reconstruction of history through comparative historical linguistics.
Her first book, entitled “The Pygmies Were Our Compass”: Bantu and Batwa in the History of West Central Africa, 3000 B.C.E. to 1900 C.E., was a finalist for the Herskovitz Award 2004 (top prize in the field) and a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2004. She has received numerous prestigious grants and fellowships (Fulbright-Hayes, Social Science Research Council, Belgian-American Foundation, The West African Research Association, Humanities Research Center at Rice University), and received the University of Houston Teaching Excellence Award in 2007.
Upon moving to Houston, Dr. Klieman shifted her focus to the history of oil in Africa. She is currently working a book entitled Before the “Curse”: Petroleum, Politics and U.S. Oil Companies in the Gulf of Guinea, Africa, 1890s-1980s. The work chronicles the political and economic impact of international oil companies in sub-Saharan Africa across the long 20th century (colonial and post-colonial eras), inserting Africa for the first time into broader historical narratives about the history of global oil. Based on this work and many years of teaching about oil and energy at UH, she co-founded and continues to co-direct the Graduate Certificate in Global Energy, Development, and Sustainability (GEDS) at the University of Houston. This is a 9-unit graduate certificate that focuses on teaching prospective oil company employees current “best practices” for avoiding negative social, political, and economic impacts that can accompany oil and gas projects undertaken in less-industrialized nations.
Klieman has delivered lectures and papers on the subject of African oil history at locations across the globe, including for the U.S. State Department, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Ibadan, Nigeria, The Rachel Carson Center, Munich, The University of Oklahoma, Rice University, Texas A&M, Brown University, and Boston University.
Office: M 320
Tom Mitro is Co-Director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Energy, Development and Sustainability at the University of Houston. He is a specialist in all aspects of petroleum financial, commercial and government-related activities. Mr. Mitro’s primary areas of academic focus are petroleum industry activities, risks, laws and agreements and their associated broader impacts on host country governments and economic development.
For the last 10 years he has been an advisor and trainer to governments and national oil companies in Africa. He was a long-term advisor to the Angolan national oil company on a range of commercial, fiscal, financing and governance issues for their natural gas and LNG projects. He structured and conducted a series of training and development programs for senior Tanzanian government officials on fiscal, environmental, commercial and local content aspects of natural gas and LNG developments.
Since 2014 Mr. Mitro has been assisting the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (“CCSI”) as a contributor on policy documents, instructor of extractive courses and co-author of CCSI’s open fiscal model for natural gas upstream, pipeline and LNG developments. He was named a Senior Fellow of CCSI in 2016.
In 2007, Tom co-founded Indego Africa, a non-governmental organization that provides business management training and expanded market access for women’s co-operatives in Rwanda and more recently, in Ghana (2015).
Previously, Mr. Mitro worked for 30 years for Gulf Oil and Chevron in several senior management positions living in Nigeria, Angola, Papua New Guinea, UK and Australia. He served as regional Chief Financial Officer for Southern Africa and for Europe with responsibility for managing: taxes and fiscal terms, economic evaluations, accounting and reporting, compliance matters, strategic planning, local business development, joint venture management, contracting and procurement, financing, and host government interaction. He has led numerous commercial and government negotiations in areas such as: major tax disputes, LNG agreements, significant asset acquisitions, oil entitlement claims, financing arrangements, joint venture disputes, PSA interpretations, and sale and purchase agreements.
Tom Mitro holds a B.S. in Business Administration and M.A. in Economics degrees from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, USA.
Office: M 332
Dr. Rebecca Golden Timsar is the Associate Director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Energy, Development, and Sustainability (GEDS). She holds a PhD in anthropology from Tulane University (2012), a Master of International Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas, Austin. Dr. Golden Timsar is a specialist in Africanist cultural anthropology. She has been awarded grants from agencies such as Fulbright, the US Institute of Peace, and the Philanthropic Education Organization. She spent much of her career as Head of Mission for Médecins sans Frontières/MSF (Doctors without Borders) in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and India. She also served as an elected member of the board of directors of MSF USA (2007-2010). Prior to her humanitarian work, she was an international financial controller in the oil services industry in Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the United States.
Dr. Golden Timsar has developed specific expertise in human security and program design and management of emergency responses to violence. She is an international consultant and has conducted emergency and community-based assessments for a number of conflict and public health challenges, has managed the daily security of international and national teams, has designed monitoring and evaluation protocols, and has led interventions in the world’s most challenging environments. She has co-edited more than a dozen MSF publications on crises in countries such as Chechnya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kosovo, and Rwanda. She continues to serve as an editor on the “Speaking Out Case Study” editorial committee for MSF International in Paris, France.
In terms of extractive industries research and expertise, Dr. Golden Timsar focuses on petrol violence, youth, health, subversive oil and gas activities, gender, religion, and contemporary African society. Her current work is concentrated on concepts of post-conflict masculinity, oil theft, and social contestation among the Ijaw of Nigeria. A recent publication, “Oil, Masculinity, & Violence: Egbesu Worship in the Niger Delta,” (2015) is centered on power, youth, and religion during the armed struggle against oil companies and the Nigerian government (1997-2010).
Dr. Golden Timsar has delivered invited lectures and papers on the subject of extractive violence, security, and health at locations across the globe, including the Keynote Speaker for the “Extractive Industries and Health Conference” Médecins sans Frontières Geneva; The Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State, Nigeria; the Harrison Program on the Future Global Agenda, University of Maryland: College Park; Louisiana State University; Rice University; and Wichita State University’s Jackman Lecture Series
News and Events
March 8-10, 2017: Kairn Klieman, Invited Speaker on (TBD) at U-Turn Africa’s Annual Convergence Symposium at Ghana’s Ashesi University.
March 22, 2017: "Managing Creativity: A Conversation with Icelandic Author-Actor-Comedian-Politician Jón Gnarr," 5:30PM, McElhinney 116
Jón Gnarr (1967-) is Iceland’s most famous actor, comedian, author, and politician. He has penned a trilogy about his early life experiences (The Indian, 2015; The Pirate, 2016; The Outlaw, 2017), all of which chronicle his upbringing as a child diagnosed with “developmental disabilities.” He has acted in numerous television shows, and in 2010, as an act of performance art, formed “The Best Party” in order to run for Mayor of Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik. To his surprise he won the election, and thus served as Mayor between 2010 and 2014. In 2015 he published a book about this experience, titled Gnarr: How I Became Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World. More recently, Gnarr created and starred in “The Mayor,” an Icelandic television series wherein he plays a more comedic (and corrupt) version of himself. Mr. Gnarr is a dedicated activist on behalf of individuals with learning disabilities, LGBT issues and people, and domestic and international human rights. He has won 12 Eddas (the most prominent film and television award in Iceland). In 2014 he received the Humanist Award from the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association, as well as a LennonOno grant for his work on human rights and peace activism during his tenure as the Mayor of Reykjavík. Mr. Gnarr is currently living in Houston as an Artist-in-Residence at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston.
March 31-April 2: GEDS Panel and Discussion with Rebecca Golden Timsar, Kairn Klieman, Tom Mitro, Doyin Oluntona
Oil and (In)Dependence in Africa: Strategies for Rupturing Economic Inequities – Past, Present, and Future. UT Austin’s Annual Africa Conference
It is well known that capital-intensive extractive industries, such as oil and gas, introduce new social and economic inequities at the local, national, and state levels. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, political independence and the advent of oil production occurred concomitantly. This created dual burdens of disentangling colonization while initializing global extractive dependencies. This panel focuses on the repercussion of that history, with papers that analyze a variety of ways individuals, communities, organizations, and states have attempted to restructure social and political systems so that oil wealth might be more widely distributed with greater independence.
“Independence” in this context means many things (of mind, of economics, of the state, of production, from global power structures and hegemonies) and the papers illustrate these dynamics in a variety of eras and social contexts. Klieman’s paper, “International Oil Companies and (In)Dependence Struggles in Africa: A Case Study from Angola,” focuses on Cabinda Gulf Oil and the U.S. State Department’s interactions with the company during the transition to independence/civil war. Golden Timsar’s paper, “Bunkering (Oil Lifting): Protest, Empowerment, and (De)Colonization in the Niger Delta of Nigeria” focuses on Ijaw militants’ armed struggle against the Nigerian government and the petroleum industry (1997-2010), and the ways that altered notions of masculinity, liberation, criminality, and inclusion helped to sustain the effort. Oluntona’s paper is rooted in legal and community organizational activities the author carried out in the 2000s, presenting a new model for coordinating leadership focused on issues of sustainability. Mitro’s Paper “Local Content in the Sub-Saharan African Petroleum Industry: Reinforcing or Breaking Free from the Neo-Colonial Model?” assesses problems with local content programs as implemented by national oil companies over the past twenty years, suggesting avenues for improvement. Through all of these papers, ideas as to how energy projects in Africa can promote greater equity and independence for all stakeholders will be put forth.
April 5, 2017: "Sour Apples: The Pleasures and Paradoxes of Climate Change in Iceland," Brazos Bookstore, (2421 Bissonet St.), Time TBA
Columbia University - Center for Sustainable Investment December Newsletter:
November 29-December 1, 2016: LNG Fiscal and Modeling Training for Tanzanian Negotiating Team
In collaboration with the UONGOZI Institute, Senior Fellow Tom Mitro and Senior Economics and Policy Researcher Nicolas Maennling conducted a three-day training for the Tanzanian team appointed to support the negotiations to develop the gas discoveries in the South of the country. The training, held in Bagamoyo, focused on fiscal and financial issues that need to be considered for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) investments. Apart from reviewing the various fiscal tools and international best practices, participants worked on an extensive modeling exercise that allowed them to better understand the tradeoffs between different taxes and structures among the upstream, pipeline and liquefaction investments.
Be sure to check back regularly for updated information on upcoming events.