Descriptions of Courses and Modules for Review
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Changing Biosphere module
This module will give students a series of experiences exploring relationships among changes in the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. By studying a series of historical and current examples of the interconnections between organisms and their environments, students will be able to discuss the dynamic and evolving nature of ecosystems, explain the relationship between diversity and stability, and analyze the concept of ecosystem health in a changing world. The overarching goal is to have students synthesize this information to develop a working knowledge of how scientists view humans as actors in natural systems. Our understanding of the long-term consequences of the ways in which we engineer and manipulate our environment is informed by our scientific study of Earth systems.
Food As the Foundation for Healthy Communities module
The movement towards sustainable communities has brought into focus the centrality of food in our everyday lives and its myriad social, economic and environmental connections. The purpose of this module: 'Food as the Foundation for Healthy Communities' is to position students to have engaging conversations about the social, economic and environmental relationships between food, food producers, and health outcomes. The framework of this module is built on the platform of the food-energy-water connections in the context of community empowerment and environmental justice. This module offers students an opportunity to examine, and refine, their own perceptions regarding food production, good food access, and health outcomes. This module's design and format makes the good food and better health outcomes conversation an attractive one - for both teachers and students. Students will see individual and community empowerment through sustainable food production efforts and food networks based on a range of partnerships. Engaging students in meaningful conversations and exchange of ideas about the relationships between food and health outcomes will inspire students to participate in the capacity building of their own communities with the goal of seeing fresh, affordable, accessible foods and improved health as commonplace. Participants will evaluate primary and secondary data sources, interpret findings, and synthesize information. The grand challenge is for human beings to return to a way of living that acknowledges that we will always be dependent on the natural environment and its offerings.
Future of Food course
- Section 1 - Introduction
- Module 1 - Intro and Overview
- Module 2 - History of Food Systems
- Module 3 - Diet and Nutrition
- Section 2 - Environmental Dynamics and Drivers
- Section 3 - Systems Approaches to Managing Food Systems
- Module 7 - Managing for Healthy Soils and Crops
- Module 8 - Pests and IPM
- Section 4 - Food Systems and Sustainability
- Module 10 - Food Systems
- Module 11 - Human-Environment Interactions
Gateway to Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability (GREENS) course
This course will explore a variety of sustainable technologies with emphasis on understanding the fundamental scientific properties underlying each. Students will also examine appropriate applications of the technologies and evaluate their use with environmental and economic considerations.
The goal of this course is to teach basic geosciences principles through an exploration of environmentally sustainable technologies. The course consists of eleven modules, each of which can be used independently of the others. The course is designed to be open to all undergraduate students on a college campus and its interdisciplinary approach is served by a diverse enrollment. Students will explore how each technology works, its importance in addressing one or more grand challenges in the geosciences, and the social and economic implications associated with that technology and competing approaches.
Pedagogy will stress hands-on experimentation and learner-centered approaches. The design will minimize the role of lecturing and promote a variety of active leaning approaches in a flipped classroom setting.
- Module 1 - Electricity, Work, and Power
- Module 3 - Thermal Energy from Light
- Module 4 - Creating Electricity from Light
- Module 5 - Passive Designs
- Module 7 - Better Ways to Illuminate
Introduction to Critical Zone Science course
This course introduces and examines the Critical Zone (CZ), Earth's permeable layer that extends from the top of vegetation to the bottom of the fresh groundwater zone. It is a constantly evolving boundary layer where rock, soil, water, air, and living organisms interact to regulate the landscape and natural habitats, and determine the availability of life-sustaining resources, including our food production and water quality. CZ science is a highly interdisciplinary and international pursuit that depends upon effective and informed cross-disciplinary science. This course focuses on the large quantity of interdisciplinary data available from the existing National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded CZ Observatories (CZO) and utilizes readings, discussions, presentations, and cutting-edge learning activities.
- Unit 5 - Landform and Landscape Evolution
Lead in the Environment module
The Lead in the Environment module is designed to integrate multiple disciplines to inform solutions to the ongoing burden of childhood lead poisoning. This module addresses the systems dynamics of lead within the human body, in individual households, and in communities and regions over time. Students use real data reflecting the distribution of residual lead in the environment and the incidence of elevated blood lead levels to explore patterns of disparities in both risk and health outcomes. Students evaluate policy strategies that have been developed across multiple agencies and scales and recommend appropriate courses of action to reduce risk of exposure.
Major Storms and Community Resilience module
Extreme storms have major impacts on the communities that lie in their path. Many climate models predict increased frequency of heavy rains and icing events, freak storms, and severe weather within the continental United States as a result of ongoing climate changes. In many locales, risk factors for such economically damaging events are no longer accurately predicted by historical trend analyses. In addition, such variables as time of year, tidal conditions, and temperature can exacerbate the severity of a storm's impact. A community's ability to respond to a major storm, and to exhibit resilience afterwards, depends on its capabilities in risk assessment, management, and preparedness. Because of the rapid pace of changes within the global climate system, preparedness for future risks now also depends on understanding that old paradigms about risk may no longer apply. New risk models must take into account complex and incompletely identified geosystem feedbacks. Community resilience, therefore, increasingly depends on adapting to an uncertain level of risk from weather extremes.
Modeling Earth Systems course
In this course, we develop the qualitative and quantitative tools for constructing, experimenting with, and interpreting dynamic models of different components of the Earth system. The integrated set of ten modules within this course explores a range of systems that all relate to the dynamics of Earth's climate, including interactions with humans. The course is aimed at an intermediate-level geoscience student with some knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, which form the foundation for building and understanding computer models of these systems.
- Unit 2 - Modeling Population
- Unit 5 - Glacial Models
- Unit 7 - Heat Flow in Permafrost
- Unit 10 - Coupled Economic and Environmental Models