The Course


Syllabus for Science, Society, & Global Catastrophes (Acrobat (PDF) 161kB Jun25 08)

Course Format

The course arose from our participation in the AAC&U's Summer 1996 Institute in Vermont; the purpose of the Institute was to help schools improve and strengthen their general education programs. I wrote a proposal to develop our course during 1997 and we offered it for the first time during Spring of 1998. This course was one of the first truly interdisciplinary courses offered at any of the UWC campuses. During the same period the UWC was introducing the Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) requirement as a mandatory component of its Associate of Arts and Science degree. As a result a number of courses following the Learning Communities or team-taught model have been introduced.

Understanding Context

The schedule given in the syllabus does not include the specific day-by-day assignments given in class. There are two reasons for this: First, the number of assignments and corresponding references is such that if included in the syllabus, it would make the syllabus too long. Second, announcing assignments in class gives us the flexibility to make any necessary changes based on the daily interaction in class. It also provides an incentive for students to show up for class. Assignments can be found on the course's web site. Examples of reading assignments for a section of the course are given in the "References" sections below.

We have considered offering this course as a 4-credit lab science course but have not done so yet. I believe the course offers some excellent opportunities for fieldwork with area community organizations and state science institutions. We will probably add a lab component in the near future.

We have not found a text that adequately covers the topics we cover in this course. Instead, we offer a number of handouts, which include our own notes, as well as different chapters and articles from books and magazines.