Introduction to Environmental Geosciences

Robert Stewart
Texas A&M University


This is a problems based course that introduces undergraduates to important environmental problems, including global change, water resources, coastal problems, air pollution and ozone depletion, and land use and degradation.

Course URL:
Course Type: Intro Level Earth Science Environmental Geology
Course Size:

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is a required course is for incoming new students majoring in environmental geoscience or environmental studies. There are no pre-requisites.

Course Content:

The course focuses on important environmental issues, their geophysical context, and policy issues relevant to the problem. The Center for Educational Policy Research on behalf of the College Board identified the course as an exemplary course that could inform the redesign of AP courses in Environmental Science.

Course Goals:

The goals are for students to develop an understanding and appreciation of the major environmental issues facing the world and Texas;
An understanding of how society influences environmental issues, and how the issues influence society;
An appreciation for how scientific solutions differ from political solutions;
An understanding of important Earth systems and how they interact;
A familiarity with how different scientific approaches can provide insight into environmental issues;
An ability to critically read scientific and popular literature related to environmental geoscience.

Course Features:

Homework assignments lead students to an understanding of their own contributions to the problems. Students read from an online textbook and important documents from environmental groups or agencies. Classroom discussion is encouraged. All students work in teams to present the results of their own investigation of an environmental problem at the end of the course.

Course Philosophy:

I chose a problem based course because it connects important scientific information to the students' lives. I find that students are much more interested in problems (coastal pollution) not processes (how winds drive currents).


Test questions are designed to test how well students meet the course goals.

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