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Course profile: Environmental Geology

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Entry level environmental geology course, 31-70 students

Information for this profile was provided by John Huntsman in 2007.

Jump down to Overview and Context * Course Content * Connecting to the Future of Science * Goals and Assessment * References and Resources

Overview and Context

An examination of the complex interrelationships between human society and geoscience processes including natural hazards, resources, environmental concerns, and global change. This is an introductory course in geology with no prerequisites and an optional one credit-hour laboratory. The course fulfills the basic studies requirements for all UNCW students as either a three-hour (without the lab section) or a four-hour natural science class. The course also serves as an acceptable prerequisite for historical geology, one of two required introductory courses for all geology majors. In addition, the course is co-listed as an environmental studies class where it is part of the choices for the required core curriculum in this major. One section of environmental geology is offered at least once per year for honors students only. Upwards of 20% of all students taking this course eventually choose to major in geology.

Course Content

The lecture part of the course begins with a brief overview of the earth's systems and processes. The succeeding discussion of natural hazards includes earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and coastal zones allows for more focused discussions on processes, observations, and interpretations, which, as a whole, demonstrate the procedure of collecting, reducing, and interpreting data and applying models to better understand the interrelationships. The remaining areas of content (environmental concerns, resources, and global change) permit students to evaluate the value of science to human endeavors and needs through analysis and planning. The final components of the course generate opinions concerning the validity of that which is understood from science and that which is portrayed as "fact" in the media.

The optional lab not only presents an overview of minerals, rocks, structures, and maps, but also provides in-depth exercises emphasizing hands-on collection of data (both in-field and in-lab), data reduction, and interpretation in solving problems. For example, some labs include preparation of hazard maps from real data related to earthquake shaking, epicenters, streamflow records, precipitation data, and soil maps.

Connecting to the Future of Science

The lecture part of this course provides students with a strong background in the basic concepts related to applied geology and effects on society. Essentially, students are prepared for more advanced study in multi-disciplinary areas by already having been introduced to the eclectic nature of applied geology related to environmental concepts.

Goals and Assessment

Content Goals

Skills Goals

Attitudinal Goals


References and Resources

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