Hiram College

This year the SEED Scholars are investigating energy.  The first thing we learned is that there is a lot we don’t know. Curious about whether we were the only ones in the dark about energy production, we decided to do a bit of investigating.

To end the fall semester, the SEED Scholars asked 40 people on campus three questions, and filmed their responses.  The purpose of this little survey was to find out how much students, faculty, and staff at Hiram know about electricity and where it comes from.  In this series of short interviews, which you can see tidbits of below, we asked:

  • Do you know where the electricity that powers Hiram come from?
  • Do you use more or less electricity than the average American?
  • What resource is most used to generate power in Ohio?

As you can see from the snippets in the video above, many interviewees were stumped.  Most were unsure of Hiram’s source of our power.  Some people blatantly said they did not know anything about electricity and its sources; while others said that it comes from the outlet wall (right?).  One respondent was surprised to learn that “Hiram existed before there was electricity.”  If you’re not sure, check out Ryogo Suzuki’s previous post about Hiram’s electricity history.

Of the people who knew or were willing to guess, 13 thought that natural gas was Ohio’s main power source, 6 said coal, 4 said oil, and 1 said nuclear.  Interestingly, most people thought that they used less electricity than the average American.  One thing this little sample demonstrates for sure, is just how little most of us know about the energy we depend on.

It’s not just the Hiram community.  The whole nation is confused about energy.  In part, this is due to a basic lack of knowledge about energy, but also because there are multiple types of energy sources that all tie into our electricity grid. Whatever the reason, our not knowing is part of a big problem.

Energy Consumption

If current trends continue, the world’s energy needs are projected to increase in the foreseeable future. “The world energy demand will increase by 45% between now and 2030—an average rate of increase of 1.6% per year with coal accounting for more than a third of the overall rise” (Energy Sustainability, 2014).

If we want to continue along this path of high energy usage, then society must find a way to make more sustainable energy, and to make it have more bang for the buck. Today 85% of all the world’s energy needs are met with fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, though almost none of the interviewees knew that fossil fuels had a major contribution to energy production. The major effects of fossil fuel use are climate change, pollution of both air and water, and the loss of natural resources that will have a major effect on habitats and their surrounding ecosystems.

Another thing our conversations showed us is  that most of the people we talked to were genuinely interested to learn more.  At this point, learning more means asking ourselves the following questions:

  • How can we change our energy consumption to have less negative impacts?
  • Can we keep our current lifestyle?
  • What must we do?
  • How can we motivate people to make the necessary changes?
  • How much time do we have?
  • What can the Hiram Community do?

To begin seeking answers to these questions, the SEEDS will be exploring the concept of more localized energy production.  Decentralized energy can increase the security of the supply and decrease dependence on distant industrial power stations.

Stay tuned for more about “community energy production.”


Video editing by Caitlin Joseph.  Interviews done by Caroline Georskey, Ryogo Suzuki, Simon Bednarski, Caitlin Joseph, and Anthony Kerrigan.  Editorial assistance from Debbie Kasper.  And thanks to all of those in the Hiram community who answered our questions!