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Earth System Science Course Design Matrix for Non-Majors Emphasizing Environmental Issues

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The non-major Earth system science course generates interest and excitement by using student prior knowledge as a starting point for instruction. A good starting point for the creation of a curriculum module is to identify a forcing factor or a change in boundary conditions identified in a specific sphere of the Earth system, and trace the effects of that change to other components of the system.

Sample course outlines:

For the course development purposes, we can order and describe classes of system interactions possible using a design matrix that identifies case examples that illustrate the relationships and interactions between two spheres:

How to Use this Table

The following table shows a matrix for designing an Earth System Course for non-majors. Matrices are a good way to think about designing an Earth System course in that it illuminates the relationships between typical topics in Earth science and the parts of the Earth system. This matrix is particularly helpful in looking at interactions between two subsystems. For more information on using course matrices, see Course Design Matrix

Earth System Science Course for non-majors emphasizing environmental issues
Primary causal mechanism located in
Acting on lithosphere Acting on atmosphere Acting on hydrosphere Acting on biosphere Acting on anthroposphere Acting on exoshpere
Rock cycle stratigraphy Greenhouse effect
trace gas exercise using Stella
Fossil fuels Geological hazards
Global warming
Desertification erosion El-Nino teleconnections
Non-renewable resources teaching with data: landuse activity[end td] Ozone destruction
  • teaching with data: ozone activity
  • Atmospheric gases: Compendium on Data ( This site may be offline. )
  • Water crisis teachng with data: water quality Biodiversity, extinctions Overpopulation population exercise Space junk