Strategy for Implementation of the American Meteororlogical Society (AMS) Climate Studies Course at University of Houston-Downtown (UH-D), Natural Sciences Department in Fall, 2013
Instructional method is a learner-based, self-inquiry, engaging approach that involves “hands-on” investigations, lab exercises, visualization materials, and simulation models to prompt critical thinking which facilitates learning of concepts. This will be based on an integrated lecture-lab structure that will enhance interactive peer participation, and encourage collaborative group cooperation. This course will focus on the (1) emergence and practice of the modern scientific method; (2) major scientific discoveries and their role in the development of modern science and society; (3) and the interaction of modern science and society. This course will also illustrate how scientists observe, develop questions, and interpret the natural world in an integrated manner across all disciplines of science. Students will also explore how science influences the world-view of Western culture and the role of politics, ethics, and technology in the development of science. Lab sessions will focus on how scientists make and interpret measurements of natural phenomena; and will provide exercises in using the scientific method including the interpretation of data; various ethical and practical problems such as nuclear energy, genetic engineering, and land abuse and population pressures. This course involves study of the Earth-Atmosphere interactions, its composition, structure, and properties with emphasis on the processes responsible for weather, climate controls and change, and the impact of atmospheric phenomena on society. Students will collect, analyze online real-time weather and climatic data in order to understand climate, and climate variability. Climate Studies provides students with a comprehensive study of principles of Climate Science while simultaneously providing classroom and laboratory applications focused on the rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field of Earth's Climate System. Students will be informed on Earth's climate system, regional/global atmospheric circulation, the scientific principle that governs climate, climate variability and climate change with implications for society. Other topics include risk management strategies aimed at countering the negative impacts of global climate change.
Students will (1) utilize the scientific process to identify questions pertaining to natural phenomena, (2) develop hypotheses, (3) collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data, (4) collaborate in the evaluation of the quality of scientific evidence from multiple perspectives toward the goal of reaching a shared objective, and (5) communicate analyses and results using written and oral communication. After completing this course, students will 1) understand the scientific process and how problems are solved in science; 2) understand how science provides explanation of cause and effect relationships in natural phenomena; 3) be able to apply scientific reasoning to observations of natural phenomena; 4) understand the history of important concepts in the natural sciences; 5) understand how science is perceived by society, how the history of science and our modern world are intertwined, and how science continues to impact society today; 6) be able to distinguish arguments that are based on scientific reasoning versus those that are not. The Course Implementation Workshop on AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project effectively prepared us and provided valuable presentations and instructional materials to be used for ultimate delivery of the new AMS Climate Studies course at our various institutions. The course curriculum was basically developed by the Education Program of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), funded by the National Science Fund (NSF) with support and assistance provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is closely aligned with the essential principles of climate science and identified in a recent climate literacy initiative by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The course is unique in that it will be done using the most current climate data that AMS Education Department will write exercises based on the weather, ocean, and climatic issues of that day. Academic and practical activities of the Course Implementation Workshop included field trips, technical, and professional presentations on the current “State-of-the-Arts” technology in Climate Science. Topics in the frontier areas that enhance course implementation include instructional procedures on AMS Conceptual Energy Model; integrating AMS Climate Studies with our course management system through “Respondus”; Climate Change and Climate Variability. We were engaged in valuable and educative field visits to NASA; NOAA; AAAS; NCEP; Beltville Climate Center; Weather and Ocean Prediction Center Operations Area tour in Washington D. C.
The short-term strategic plan for full implementation at UHD is to initially offer the new AMS Climate Studies course (GEOL 2390) from fall 2013 as a science elective for mainly non-majors to fulfill their Bachelors' degree requirements, while the long-term goal is to ultimately schedule the Climate Studies course as an introductory college science degree option towards the Bachelor's degree in Geoscience at UHD's Natural Science Department. It is noteworthy to mention that we earlier started to offer the AMS equivalent Weather and Ocean Studies courses (GEOL 1304 and GEOL 1345 respectively) since Year 2004, and have been very successful while it increased steadily to six sections, currently including face-to-face and fully online versions.