Earth and the Environment

Laura Ruhl, Earth Sciences
University of Arkansas at Little Rock


This is an interdisciplinary introductory level undergraduate course that explores various aspects of environmental geology, as well as introducing basic geologic concepts.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture and lab

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, primarily masters programs

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites. It (or physical geology) is required for the geology degree, and can also fill some of the general-ed core laboratory science curriculum for the university. The majority of students in this course are non-geology majors, and mostly non- science majors.

Course Content:

The course integrates the following topics through in-class lectures, laboratory exercises, field trips: Earth Processes, Geologic Hazards, Earth Resources, Hydrologic processes, and Geologic Processes that occur naturally and how humans can change it.

Course Goals:

The course objectives include students gaining an understanding of:
  1. Earth Processes (origin of solar system, minerals, rock cycle, and tectonics)
  2. Hazardous Earth Processes (floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions)
  3. Earth Resources (Soil resources, mineral resources, and energy resources)
  4. Hydrologic processes (ground and surface water resources, water quantity and pollution)
  5. Geologic Processes that occur naturally and how humans can change it.

Students should be able to:
  • Seek out, critically evaluate, and understand geoprocess-human response relationships
  • Synthesize and assess information on the earth and environmental issues, analyze real-world data to understand how environmental systems work and impact our daily lives, and demonstrate their ability to learn, retain, and discuss environment-related concepts and issues.

Students will demonstrate:
  • Comprehension of major hypotheses, theories, and conceptual models in the earth sciences
  • Understanding of how scientists collect data through observations and experiments
  • Awareness of the impact of earth sciences on society
  • The ability to communicate their understanding of how scientists know how the earth works.

Course Features:

The course presents many different and new topics to the students. Case studies and current events are often brought up and discussed in class in order to learn about real-life examples of geologic concepts. We will often discuss risk associated with geologic hazards, environmental contamination, and human health.



Earth and the Environment Lecture Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 120kB May21 15)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes: