EARTH Courses Spring and Summer Half-Terms
The spring and summer of 2020 will continue to be an interesting and challenging time in Michigan and the world. The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is actively adjusting to new modes of teaching, research, and communication. We recognize the disruption that these changes have caused for our students, and we are modifying and expanding our spring and summer course offerings to serve the needs of our majors and minors, and of the Michigan community.
In Spring half-term, our Department will focus on offerings for prospective majors and majors who are early in their academic plans. Earth 222 Introductory Oceanography (3 credits); Earth 305 Earth’s Surface and Sediments (4 credits); and Earth 380 Natural Resources, Economics, and the Environment (4 credits) will be offered Spring half-term. These courses will allow prospective students to complete introductory prerequisites to our major, and will offer our majors an opportunity to complete core course requirements and satisfy College ULWR and QR requirements.
In Summer half-term, we will pivot to offerings for majors in Earth and Environmental Sciences and PitE who need to complete requirements for graduation. We will offer Earth 296 Earth and Environmental Sciences Around Us (5 credits); Earth 325 Environmental Geochemistry (4 credits), Earth 344 Sustainable and Fossil Energy (4 credits), and Earth 496 Earth and Environmental Sciences Field Methods (5 credits).
Remote Learning Field Methods Courses
All of these courses will be offered on-line, which requires significant revision to those courses that are typically taught at our Camp Davis field station each summer. Given the number of majors who need these courses to complete their degree requirements, we have developed new “remote learning” opportunities in field methods specific to this summer, including Earth 296, a revised Earth 344, and Earth 496, which are described below.
EARTH 296 Earth and Environmental Sciences Around Us (Summer) will be taught as a series of one week modules, with each module covering a specific topic in the Earth and environmental sciences. The course will have a low instructor to student ratio, and students will be engaged in collecting data from their local communities, both through physical trips in the area around them, or through on-line resources that pertain to the regions where they live and across the globe. Student cohort groups will be created for each module to build community, and these groups will regularly communicate with faculty instructors through lectures, tutorials, demonstrations, and discussions. Our goal is to actively engage students in the natural world in their communities to underscore the importance of Earth and environmental sciences in all of our lives.
EARTH 344 Sustainable and Fossil Energy (Summer) focuses holistically on a hands-on and critical analysis of energy resources, energy efficiency, conservation and storage. Students will learn about historic, current and forecasted energy resource use by society; the economics, politics and policies at the local, state, national and international level that affect energy resource availability; the science and engineering of fossil fuel and renewable energy resources; and natural and anthropogenic climate forcing as they relate to energy resource use. The course will combine virtual tours of energy mines and production facilities, conversations with professionals involved in the fossil fuel mining and energy production industries, professionals working in renewable energy, and professionals in the government and non-profit sectors working on energy infrastructure and legislation. The class will utilize new data to assess the environmental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EARTH 496 Earth and Environmental Science Field Methods (Summer) is an upper-level course that will be taught remotely in the summer of 2020 to teach students essential skills in field observations, data assimilation, hypothesis testing through designed field experiments, digital and spatial data analysis, integrative thinking, and scientific communication. The course will be taught as a series of one week modules, with each module covering a specific topic in the Earth and environmental field sciences. The course will have a low instructor to student ratio, and students will be engaged in collecting data, including observations and samples, from their local communities, both through physical trips in the area around them, or through on-line resources that pertain to the regions where they live and across the globe. Students will assimilate, compare, and contrast their data and observations with data collated from previous experiments, citizen-science projects, and the scientific literature. Student cohort groups will be created for each module to build community, and these groups will regularly communicate with faculty instructors through lectures, tutorials, demonstrations, and discussions. Our goal is to actively engage students in science through exploration within their local community, while contextualizing those explorations in a broader context of global Earth and environmental science problems and training the students in methods and techniques relevant to a modern geoscientist.