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Joan Beckner, Intellectual Property Attorney

Joan Beckner

"I would encourage anyone in the fossil fuel industry who wants to lead or participate in efforts to mitigate climate change to consider applying to this program. It’s a great way to build on existing knowledge and skills and to equip yourself to help accelerate the transition toward a clean energy economy."

What has been unexpected about the program?

While I expected to learn from the program material, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’m also learning from the student cohort, an amazing group of 80 professionals working on diverse aspects of clean energy development around the world. The weekly exchange of information and ideas from so many perspectives enriches the experience throughout the year. The program’s cohort structure and facilitation of our interaction, by design, are creating a coherent community that can continue to collaborate after the program ends.

How has the program built your knowledge or skills in clean energy?

As an intellectual property lawyer active in the energy space, I brought some knowledge of clean energy generation and storage technologies and challenges. Or so I thought. The program’s first two modules filled knowledge gaps (some I didn’t know I had) through its comprehensive coverage of current and evolving policy tools, technical alternatives, and grid economics. Hands-on exercises that ranged from engineering calculations to questions of policy reinforced the lecture material and spurred further research into areas of personal interest, including recent developments in solar, wind, and large- and small-scale battery storage. I’m looking forward to strengthening my finance skills in the next module (one reason I applied to the program) and to the exciting innovations module this spring.

Why did you choose this program?

In refocusing my legal career exclusively on clean energy, I realized that I wanted to pursue more formal and comprehensive training than I’d been getting through attending renewable energy legal conferences and online technical events, performing ad hoc patent and technology reviews, and keeping up with newsfeed subscriptions. Hoping to supplement, I searched for graduate and professional programs focused on clean energy, with broad and deep coverage of the landscape and issues, led by experienced professors engaged at the cutting edge, that could be completed part-time and remotely. Already familiar with Yale’s leadership in clean energy education through its climate connection and other feeds, I was happy to find FDCE. I was drawn to the substance of the curriculum, including the section diving into clean energy finance, the interdisciplinary approach interweaving science, technology, law, and business, the interactive format, and the schedule for completion in one year.

In which ways do you believe the FDCE program has enabled you to expand your network?

FDCE has enabled me to expand my network in at least three ways. From Day One, the program has encouraged meaningful connections among the cohort. Orientation week kicked off with team-building, leadership, and social activities that set us up well to communicate both inside and outside of the program’s metaphorical “walls.” Ongoing opportunities to communicate include weekly discussions, live large- and small-group sessions, the new social platform, and individual calls. The program also helped expand my network by publishing my student policy memo on CBEY’s Clean Energy Finance Forum in November, which led to additional networking opportunities and connections outside of FDCE. And the program has given me the confidence to reach out to others working in clean energy whom I might not have known about or reached out to otherwise.

In what ways is the cohort diverse and how does that benefit your learning or career redevelopment?

We share drive and interest in working on clean energy solutions, but we’re diverse with respect to roles, geographies, and perspectives, all of which enhances the education we receive. Our experience levels range from first professional role to mid-level to senior management to C-suite. We have geographic diversity throughout the United States and globally, which makes for interesting comparative analysis through a prism of local and regional politics, regulatory framework, resource availability, infrastructure, and other factors. We have people who work for green banks, utilities, start-ups, local government, NGOs, providers of solar, wind, hydrogen fuel cell, storage, grid and mini-grid, efficiency, and supply chain. Our functions include finance, legal, engineering, research, policy, project management, marketing, and others. Input from this mosaic of voices helps us look beyond our immediate surroundings – whether to determine where and how we can optimize our own career impact, or to think about how we can integrate discrete efforts into a cohesive whole.

What are the advantages of this program being online?

Designed as an online course (with a one-week exception) pre-pandemic, the format provides convenience, time flexibility for weekly assignments, and allows participation from anywhere. Within a given week, with the exception of the mandatory live session, students can schedule coursework however they want. At the same time, although it has all of the advantages of an online course, FDCE feels like a hybrid approach that shares aspects of traditional graduate programs. The material is delivered by a team of fantastic professors from Yale’s schools of law, management, and the environment, most of whom offer live sessions for Q&A. And, unlike passive stream-and-click online courses, FDCE participants are expected to actively engage with the material and with each other – to analyze, question, research, write, create.

Who would you recommend this program to?

I would recommend the program to anyone who wants to help propagate carbon-free energy solutions, anywhere in the world and anywhere from sourcing to end-use. More specifically, I would recommend the program to anyone who wants to strengthen their clean energy toolkit in the areas of financing, policy, technology transitions, and innovation. This includes fellow lawyers and engineers. For example, I’ve found the program particularly fertile wherever policy and technology improvement converge. Finally, a note from Texas, whose status as “energy capital of the world” once referred to oil and gas and increasingly refers to wind and solar: I would encourage anyone in the fossil fuel industry who wants to lead or participate in efforts to mitigate climate change to consider applying to this program. It’s a great way to build on existing knowledge and skills and to equip yourself to help accelerate the transition toward a clean energy economy.


Want to learn more about the program?

Intrigued?  Want to learn more?  Find detailed information about the Financing and Deploying Clean Energy certificate program here or reach out to us at