Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Course Descriptions > Natural Disasters

Natural Disasters

Matt Brueseke
Kansas State University


This course seeks to provide a basic understanding of the physical nature of the Earth and how fundamental Earth processes can substantially affect how humans live.

Course Type:
Entry Level Geologic Hazards

Course Size:

Course Format:
Small-group seminar

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, primarily masters programs

Course Context:

This is course that's being taught in a pilot study as a "First-Year seminar (FYS)." Natural Disasters at K-state is typically a 350+ student lecture-based course and as part of the FYS pilot, one section (mine) is going to be limited to <25 students. Both courses are introductory courses with no pre-requisites and neither serves as a prerequisite as another course. For students that become interested in Geology after taking this course, they still have to take a course on Introductory Physical Geology.

In your department, do majors and non-majors take separate introductory courses? no

If students take a "non-majors" course, and then decide to become a major, do they have to go back and take an additional introductory course? no

Course Content:

I plan on teaching the course in an integrated lecture and seminar-based format. Since the course revolves around understanding Natural Disasters, concepts will include basic geological and atmospheric phenomena. An example activity that could be used in this course is Weather Map Assignment.

Course Goals:

Fundamentally, I want students to come away from the course with an appreciation of how the Earth works and how natural disasters occur and affect people. Understanding these concepts will help my students make better decisions in the future and also allow them to critically assess issues that affect them that are Earth Science related.

Course Features:

I plan on lots of group discussion, a little lecturing, and also critical evaluation of written documents (e.g. they read, summarize the document, and discuss their points of view).

Course Philosophy:

In the context of the FYS pilot project, the course has to convey the same content as the "regular" lecture sections of the course. I think this is a good mix.


Graded writing assignments and exams.

References and Notes: