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Course profile: Quantitative Natural Hazards

Arlo Weil, Bryn Mawr

200-level general science course, 16-30 students.

Information for this profile was provided by Arlo Weil in 2007. Information is also available on the course website.

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

Overview and Context

This is an introductory-level general science elective course with one semester of college science as a prerequisite. The course is quantitative intensive and fulfills the college's Q-requirement (quantitative requirement). The students have a variety of backgrounds, but most take the class as a creative way top fulfill their Q-requirement. We tend to get a few majors from this class whenever it is offered.

Course Content

Discussion of Earth processes that occur on human time scales and their impact on humanity both past and present. We quantitatively consider the past, current and future hazards presented by geologic processes, including earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods and hurricanes. The course includes discussion of the social, economic and policy contexts in which geologic processes become geologic hazards. Case studies are drawn from contemporary and ancient societies. Lecture three hours a week, with one day-long field trip. There are weekly problem sets that usually require several hours of work to complete.

Connecting to the Future of Science

The course is obviously on a subject matter that all of the students can relate—and recently natural hazards have become a consistent and important international news topic. This class is taught in a non-conventional manner in terms of typical shake-and-bake hazard classes. The focus is on the quantitative treatment of natural disasters, their physical processes, how to analyze, judge, and critique data, and how to think about the impact that humans have and their role on natural disasters.

Goals and Assessment


Specifically, at the end of the course, students will be able to


References and Resources

Books Used:

Additional Materials

Download the 2005 course syllabus (Microsoft Word 71kB Mar23 07)

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