The Human side of geologic hazards

Renee Faatz
Snow College
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Students respond in a charitable way to geological or weather related disasters.

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Courses include Physical Geography, Survey of Geology, Introduction to Environmental Geology - all for non- science majors

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

An understanding of the disaster that has occurred (causes, effects, underlying complications related to the geology, geography or history of the area).

How the activity is situated in the course

Whenever a weather or geological hazard negatively impacts some part of the world.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Understanding of one or more of the following depending on the course: earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunami, flooding. The students will understand the factors that control hazard potential for each and how humans can affect risk.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Searching the web, oral and written communication, group work, analysis of charities - how they spend money, where to find ratings, etc

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are asked to respond in a way they choose (as a class) to a geologic or weather related hazard. They begin with a study of the event, its causes and local effects. They then research the needs of the people affected. They research charities that serve the population affected. They choose a response (again, as a class). They educate the campus community about the geology/geography of the event, the needs and solicit donations.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Four assignments are given as homework and graded:

  1. A description of the event and an understanding of why, what, where, etc; and some information about the population affected;
  2. Evaluation of the effectiveness and trustworthiness of charities; 
  3. A poster used to educate the campus community about the science of the event and the needs. There is then a peer evaluation of the campus education and efforts to collect donations and get donations to the affected population. 
  4. The final assignment is a reflection exercise. The reflection exercise will ask students to comment on what they have learned about the science of the natural disaster, their involvement in aide for those affected, their efforts to educate the campus and the effect their assistance had.

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