Initial Publication Date: May 7, 2018

Critical Zone Science: A transdisciplinary approach to environmental science

Thursday, May 17, 2018

11:00 am PT | 12:00 pm MT | 1:00 pm CT | 2:00 pm ET

Presenters: Tim White (Pennsylvania State University), Ashlee Dere (University of Nebraska at Omaha), Adam Wymore (University of New Hampshire), and Justin Richardson (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

This webinar is part of a series supporting teaching with InTeGrate principles, using InTeGrate-developed and curated materials as tools.

Registration is closed.


Earth's critical zone (CZ) is the uppermost layer of Earth's continents, which supports ecosystems and humans alike. CZ science aims to understand how interactions among rock, soil, water, air, and terrestrial organisms influence Earth as a habitable system. Thus, CZ science provides the framework for a holistic-systems approach to teaching Earth surface and environmental science, especially related to environmental sustainability. Participants in this webinar will be introduced to the basic concepts of critical zone science and observatories as well as a transdisciplinary full-semester, university curriculum that introduces upper-division students to CZ science. The course emphasizes how a CZ framework is appropriate for teaching concepts across scientific disciplines, concepts of environmental sustainability, and the usefulness of CZ science for considering humanity's grand challenges. Webinar topics will include a background and history of CZ science, and a focus on units from within three of the seven modules that comprise the course: importance and role of soil in the CZ Background module; movement of energy and nutrients in the Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry module; and, agricultural impacts and the research proposal peer review process in the Humans in the CZ module. The webinar will conclude with consideration of examples of contemporary Critical Zone Science results and future opportunities.


At the end of this webinar, participants will have:

  • a basic understanding of the critical zone, what it is and how it is studied, stressing societal relevance of the concepts.
  • awareness of the upper-level undergraduate semester-long course entitled "Critical Zone Science" and how materials could be used in courses or curriculum.
  • renewed interest and enthusiasm for teaching transdisciplinary Earth surface and environmental science.


Time - 11:00 am PT | 12:00 pm MT | 1:00 pm CT | 2:00 pm ET
- 1 hour
- Online web presentation via Zoom meeting software with questions and discussion. Go to the webinar technology page for information on using Zoom. Detailed instructions for joining the webinar will be emailed to registered participants one day prior to the webinar.
Preparation - There is no advance preparation required for this webinar.

Registration is closed.

Please email Mitchell Awalt ( if you have any questions about this event.


Tim White, Research Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Ashlee Dere, Assistant Professor of Geology, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Adam Wymore, Assistant Research Professor, University of New Hampshire

Justin Richardson, Assistant Professor , University of Massachusetts Amherst


Critical Zone Science webinar slides (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 24.1MB May17 18)

1) Welcome and introductory remarks – Mitchell Awalt, SERC

2) Introduction and History of CZ Science - Tim White, Pennsylvania State University

3) Module 1: CZ Background - Tim White, Pennsylvania State University

4) Module 6: Geochemistry and Biogeochemistry - Adam Wymore, University of New Hampshire

5) Module 7: Humans in the CZ - Ashlee Dere, University of Nebraska at Omaha

6) Examples of Contemporary CZ Science and Future Possibilities - Justin Richardson, University of Massachusetts Amherst

7) Reflection by participants

  • What challenges do you face when trying to incorporate critical zone science?
  • What strategies do you use to incorporate critical zone science into your teaching?

8) Concluding remarks by presenters

9) Opportunities for further interaction - Mitchell Awalt, SERC

10) Webinar Evaluation


Click to view the webinar screencast (MP4 Video 63.9MB May17 18).



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