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Our Geologic Environment

Sadredin Moosavi

Walden University (University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs)


This course is a general education lab science course taken by non-science majors to fulfill a lab science and man and environment general education distribution requirements. The course is based on the content found in introductory geology survey courses, but emphasizes human interaction with the natural environment using a place-based case study essay/project, and two significant research/debate group projects relating to climate change and mitigation of nitrogen pollution from rural Minnesota of the Gulf of Mexico. Weekly labs and lectures and field trips form the remainder of the course.

Course Type:
Entry Level:Environmental Geology Physical Geology

Course Size:

Course Context:

This is a lecture/lab combination course taken by general education students not majoring in science. The 2 hours of lecture occur in a large lecture hall (72 students) with smaller 2 hour lab sections (24 ea). There are no pre or corequisites. Lecture time is used for faculty lecture, question and answer, and tests. Lab time is used for hands-on, inquiry based labs, lab quizzes, group projects and project presentations. All students take part in a field trip outside normal class time.

Course Goals:

Content Goals - Students develop:

A conceptual framework for the Earth as a system

A linkage between cause in effect in Earth processes and their visible outcomes

An example of the evolution of scientific thought from observations with developments in technology using the evolution of the plate tectonic model from continental drift

Appreciation for human dependance and impact on the Earth system.

Skill Goals - Students develop:

Observation skills relating to rocks, minerals and landforms in images and the field.

Create an integrated writing project with stages of peer review, journaling and revision and reflection.

Map reading and manipulation skills

Models of Earth structures using common household items

Ability to "Read" the landscape for geologic information.

Group research, synthesis and presentation skills.

Oral presentation skills.

Critical thinking and analysis of oral and written arguments related to Earth Science/Environmental matters.

Attitudinal Goals - Students develop:

Sense of stewardship for the Earth

Sense of skepticism about public statements not backed by peer reviewed, objective data

Sense of Place and personal responsibility for that place

View of Science as a necessary part of public policy dialogue/decision making

View of writing and public speaking as necessary and achievable personal skill objectives


Assessment comes in several forms:

Tests and quizzes serve a combination of formative and summative assessment of content knowledge accumulation and ability of students to extrapolate from their growing knowledge to new situations. Labs serve as formative assessment of student progress in developing inquiry skills and content knowledge. The major projects and debates provide more detailed understanding of students ability to synthesize Earth science knowledge and techniques to solving scientific problems of societal importance. The Special Place Project provides a step by step development of student writing and research skills related to all content areas in the course. If provides a pre and post assessment of student Earth science knowledge as applied to an individualized "real world" case including a synthesis of their learning over the course.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 46kB Jun22 06)

Teaching Materials:

Gulf Anoxia Course Project (Microsoft Word 194kB Jun22 06)
Climate Change Course Project (Microsoft Word 273kB Jun22 06)

References and Notes:

See syllabus