Geological Perspective

Jessica Kapp,
Geosciences, University of Arizona


General education Earth science class for non-science majors. Covers topics from formation of the universe to current issues in global change. Class is offered in a lecture setting, but is highly interactive, with actual lecture accounting for only about 30% of the course.

Course Size:
greater than 150

Course Format:
Lecture only

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites and does not serve as a prerequisite for other courses. It is a general education course that is one of many options non-science majors have to fulfill their science requirements. There is no lab.

Course Content:

Geological Perspective focuses on the Earth from its birth to its current condition. Topics include the formation of the universe, Earth's formation and evolution, plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, climate, and current global change. We will explore such deep time concepts as formation of the universe, and shorter time scale concepts such as variability of CO2 in the atmosphere and how that affects humans.

Course Goals:

Students will gain an understanding of Earth, and how it fits in to the larger picture of our universe. Students will practice critical thinking about ideas such as cause and effect of human behaviors on the Earth system. Students will be able to use several lines of reasoning to discuss and ultimately answer questions about our world.

Course Features:

This course is a 15 week lecture course that includes many interactive, in class activities such as tutorials, participation exercises, voting, and think-pair-share. Outside of class students have weekly homework assignments completed on the Mastering Geology website. There are three writing assignments that relate to scientific articles. There are four exams, all worth 100 points.

Course Philosophy:

I believe many students harbor misconceptions about geologic time and the history of the Earth, and addressing time in several ways helps them to get past these misconceptions.


In-class voting on exam-type questions, in class activities, writing, and exams.


References and Notes: