Global Environmental Obstacles

Walter S. Borowski

Eastern Kentucky University (University with graduate programs, primarily masters programs)


The course uses Mackenzie's Our Changing Planet as a template and investigates world population, diminishing water resources, anthropogenic effects on the atmosphere (ozone hole and acid rain), and global warming. While assessing these global environmental problems, students will learn about deep time, cycling of substances, plate tectonics, and geologic climate change.

Course Type: Intro Level:Environmental Geology
Course Size:

Course Context:

General education course fulfilling university requirements for science. Also, an entry course into the geology curriculum of the Earth Sciences department.
This is a new course, but we anticipate subequal enrollment of various classes.

Course Goals:

Students should be able to
  • evaluate the vastness of geologic time through qualitative exercises and simple calculations dealing with radiometric age-dating.
  • interpret the role of plate tectonics in creating geologic features, in recycling earth materials, and in modulating climate.
  • recognize the role of cycling processes in the Earth system.
  • the effects of increasing human population on our planet.
  • predict the consequences of ever increasing demand for water coupled with diminishing resources.
  • analyze the complexity of the Earth system as it pertains to global warming.
  • evaluate the strengths and limitations of scientific inquiry in investigating, evaluating, and predicting Earth responses to anthropogenic and natural phenomena.
  • synthesize major topics in the course to prioritize environmental challenges that will affect the quality of human life on the planet.
Students should see the value of scientific inquiry to the human condition.
Students may be prompted to major in geology.


We will use departmental assessment instrument that asks questions about geologic time, plate tectonics, and materials cycling.


Syllabus (Microsoft Word 43kB Jun22 06)

Teaching Materials:

References and Notes:

Mackenzie, Fred T., 2003 (3rd edition), Our Changing Planet, Prentice Hall.

Various handouts and readings as yet to be determined.