Initial Publication Date: May 29, 2015

Course profile: Global Change

Johnnie Moore, University of Montana

Upper level course, 16-30 students

Information for this profile was provided by William Woessner in 2007.

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

Global change is more than Climate Change. It includes changes in atmospheric chemistry, biodiversity, water quality and human health. This is a lecture and discussion class. The upper division nature of the class is meant to attract science majors and also science-oriented education students. Students are expected to spend 6-8 hr a week out of class reading, solving problems, writing homework and preparing for discussion of readings.

Course Content

The purpose of this course is to examine various aspects of global change, from the origin of the earth's atmosphere and early climate to the present human-influences on the earth system. Topics include global energy balance, atmospheric and ocean surface circulation, deep ocean circulation and controls on climate, plate tectonics, carbon cycles, long-term climate trends, Pleistocene glaciations and controls on glaciation, historical and recent climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem effects of climate change, ozone and other pollutants.

Connecting to the Future of Science

The future of science is dealing with global scale problems; we will need to understand earth as a system. The course teaches students to understand earth system processes as they relate to critical future problems society will face.

Goals and Assessment


The students should learn basic terminology and enhance problem solving capabilities. Building a capacity to working in group settings will also be fostered. Students should develop a broader perspective on the interconnectedness of global systems and the role science plays in understanding societal problems. The student should develop a perspective of uncertainty in scientific work. The student should develop a basic understanding of global processes.


Assessment is by traditional testing (3 exams), lecture quizzes, home work assignments and class participation grading. The students who meet the goals pass the course.

References and Resources

A large body of papers is placed on electronic reserve. Web sites are referenced. (See reading list for first exam, below.) In addition, the text Kump, L. R. , J. F. Kasting and R. G Crane, The Earth System, 2nd Ed., Prentice hall, N.J., 2004 is used.

Additional Materials

Course syllabus, 2007 (Acrobat (PDF) 30kB Mar19 07)
Reading list for first exam (Acrobat (PDF) 17kB Mar19 07)