Global Environmental Change


Theme Description: Change is a constant component within all of the Earth's systems. Understanding the driving forces behind both natural and anthropogenic change is a key element of science. Topics such as climate change, changing atmospheric composition, the global carbon cycle, the global hydrologic cycle, land use/land cover changes, species migration/extinction, shifting biomes, and others are covered in this theme. Students can choose any two courses in any order to satisfy this theme.

Theme Coordinator:   Dr. Peter Soule



BIO 1103. Global Climate Change and Earth’s Life (4). S
A course examining the effects of global climate change on earth’s organisms. Lecture combines biological concepts with current knowledge and predictions to provide a broad introduction to key changes possible in earth’s biota in a future world. Laboratory provides a hands-on approach to investigating climate change questions. Submission of on-line essays, group discussions and summary reports from laboratory experiments required. Lecture three hours, laboratory two hours.

GHY 1011. Global Climate Change (4). F;S
This course provides a scientific examination of global climate change, including the physical patterns within the atmosphere, climate change due to both natural and anthropogenic forcing mechanisms, and projections of future change at various spatial scales. Students will employ the scientific method in a series of field-based experiments to answer problems and address issues that complement the lecture material and focus on aspects of global climate change. Lecture three hours, laboratory two hours.

GHY 1012. Global Change of the Biosphere (4).F;S
An introduction to the patterns, dynamics, and causes of change in the biosphere. Students will examine the fundamental geographic determinants of biodiversity patterns and the natural and human factors that drive biotic change, including climate change, land cover change, and biological invasions. Students will use the scientific method in hands-on laboratory activities to investigate causal relationships between global change processes and biome shifts, species migration, extinction, and loss of biodiversity. Lecture three hours, laboratory two hours.

GLY 1104. Water: Mountains to Sea (4). F
A study of the interaction between terrestrial water and geological phenomena. The course applies the scientific method to the study of the continental components of the hydrologic cycle. It also focuses on the interaction of water with the rock and plate tectonic cycles. Lecture three hours, laboratory two hours.


How These Courses Integrate into Theme:

Students in each course will explore the interrelationships among the Earth's complex environmental systems and the methodologies used by a diverse group of scientists. Students will gain a sound understanding of the patterns and processes of climate change, as well as an introduction to the scientific method of inquiry through active approaches such as data collection, data analysis, evaluation and debate. Students will hear from various speakers and be given the chance to discuss the content of these talks within the laboratory sections.