MSE 2000 – Our Warming Planet

Despite the attention that “global warming” and “climate change” have received from the public recently, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase.  What are the causes of global warming, and has our climate really been changing? What have the impacts been on Earth’s natural ecosystems and on human society, and what might we expect in the future? We’ll explore these questions and others in “Our Warming Planet.”  By applying the scientific method in the laboratory and the field, you will gain hands-on experience in assessing the causes and consequences of climate change. Working in small groups, you will pose questions, formulate hypotheses, and then design and conduct experiments to test your hypotheses. You will gain knowledge in laboratory and field methods of measuring, for instance, concentrations and emissions of greenhouse gases, forest carbon sequestration, ocean acidification, and rates of photosynthesis and respiration. In exploring the physical basis of climate change, you will draw on multiple scientific disciplines including environmental science, biology, chemistry and physics. We will move beyond the physical sciences to investigate the human activities that lead to climate change, and the implications these changes have for society, thereby gaining a true interdisciplinary understanding of the topic. The national and international policies regulating human influence on the climate, the role of developed versus developing countries in causing climate change, the disproportionate effects of climate change on developing countries, and the variable ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change across human society will be discussed.

GEV 1050 and 1051 – Environmental Science

Two semester sequence providing multidisciplinary foundation in Environmental Science. Lectures include instruction in environmental biology and chemistry, earth science, natural resources, and energy. Laboratories emphasize techniques and approaches scientists use to investigate environmental problems, and include collection and statistical analysis of quantitative data from experimental and observational study in lab and field. Required for all students completing the Environmental Studies concentration; fulfills the Natural Science requirement of the Core Curriculum in Arts and Sciences.

GEV 3300 – Statistics & Experimental Design in Environmental Science

In this course, you will explore various methodologies for designing experiments and testing hypotheses in environmental science.  The statistical treatment of quantitative data will be the focus of this course.  Effective visualization and presentation of environmental data will be discussed. You will be evaluated through four exams, several assignments, and a final project in which you utilize experimental design and statistics to pose and test a hypothesis.

GEV 4310 – Seminar in Environmental Issues

Interdisciplinary coverage of current environmental issues. Emphasizes multidimensional analysis and complexity of environmental issues. Required capstone course for students in the Environmental Studies Concentration.

GEV 4320 / BIO 9104 – Microbial Processes in the Environment

Microbes mediate many important processes in the environment. This course will explore the various microbial processes that impact elemental cycling in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The role of microbes in causing environmental problems (such as acid mine drainage and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions) and mitigating environmental damage (such as sewage treatment and toxic waste clean-up) will be explored. The life strategies of microbes living in sometimes hostile environments will be examined. In the laboratory we will measure rates and pathways of several key microbial processes, explore how carbon compounds (some toxic) are broken down by microbes, measure microbial growth rates at various temperatures, and extract and amplify DNA from several key microbial groups. The course will include two required Saturday field trips to a coastal salt-marsh site and an acid-mine drainage site. Course evaluation will be based on exams, laboratory assignments, a presentation and a writing assignment.