Climate change is among the greatest challenges facing humanity today. The course breaks down the scientific underpinnings of how increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases affect the global climate. By looking at the problem of climate change from multiple angles, students get a decent view of how a modern climate scientist works. The course also addresses the impacts of climate change and discusses the pros and cons of potential solutions.
This course will cover a survey of the modern science of sea level rise and engineering adaptation to ongoing sea level rise. In the first half of the course, students will learn about the Earth system processes which drive sea level rise in Earth’s past and in recent years, and how these processes may change in the future. Students will do a data-driven project exploring historical records of sea level change and variability at individual locations, including a deep dive into the local factors which have driven changes in local sea level.
In this unique project-based interdisciplinary course, students will be exposed to local problems within the greater Atlanta, GA region tied to global climate change. Students will investigate local impacts in the context of atmospheric, hydrological and land processes on the city, including a detailed look at the biological impacts to organisms in this region (including humans)!
Biodiversity Dynamics will be a project-based course will explore where plants and animals live on the landscape, and how and why they move or evolve in response to environmental changes and human impacts. We will use real species, landscape, climate, and human impact data to explore biogeographic rules, such as the latitudinal & elevation diversity gradients. We will also learn about how landscape ecologists use species distribution models and corridor models for conservation purposes.
Sustainable Community Service: Protecting Urban Ecology
This course will introduce students to methods for effective community service in the Atlanta area, specifically related to urban ecology. We will investigate the complex balancing of perceived human needs with those of the natural environment. The course will focus on the benefits to humans of greenspace and how to protect and nurture it. We will learn by interacting with guest speakers from urban ecology networks and by participation in off-campus, hands-on activities.
The biogeochemical cyclings of elements among geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere are important processes controlling the fate and transport of contaminants and nutrients. This course will discuss the role of minerals in controlling contaminant and nutrient flow in natural environments, with assignments/projects related to mineral properties and surface reactions.
Geochemical processes are central to a variety of environmental issues, including the distribution of CO2 on Earth, water quality and the transformation and storage of inorganic and organic contaminants from human activity.
Prior to 2008, most of the world’s population lived in rural areas. Since then, and perhaps for the rest of human history, cities will be the dominant form of human habitation on this planet. It is therefore imperative that urban places are healthful and desirable. But how does one know if a city is healthy? What are the “vital signs” that indicate that everything is okay? These manufactured environments require enormous energy and material resources and create tremendous quantities and concentrations of wastes. Are they sustainable?
Understanding our planet’s environment requires understanding how the whole Earth functions as an interconnected system. This course investigates the four components of the Earth system in detail: the atmosphere, the oceans, the solid Earth, and the biosphere to understand how these processes interact, and then how we, as humans, impact our planet.