Enhancing Social Awareness in Global Climate Changes in a Minority Serving Institution

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Nurdan S. Duzgoren-Aydin, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ

The surface environment where four major components of Earth Climate System (Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere and Biosphere) interact is directly influenced from the inevitable interactions between humans and their surroundings. As these interactions with increasingly negative consequences are becoming more intense, complex and diverse, the ability to comprehend the past and to predict the future climate changes is more crucial than ever. Human induced or accelerated climate forcing, notably through C-emission, is now playing increasingly dominant role in the global climate system. Understanding the uncertainties and magnitude of challenges facing the society requires a generation who knows scientific explanations of natural systems and can communicate them.

NJCU is a federally recognized minority institution (Hispanic Serving Institution, HSI), with a diverse student body (37% Hispanic, 25 % White, 20% African-American, 8% Asian and 10% other). Education at the university is increasingly focusing on hands-on, student-centered learning. As such the Department of Geoscience/Geography is aiming at designing new courses specially addressing the needs of recently introduced General Education Program. Primary learning objectives of the program are to enhance students' social awareness and scientific knowledge in global issues, while improving their critical thinking and reasoning skills. With this in mind, the course titled “Past and Future Climate Changes” will be offered as a capstone course. The course will not only meet the GenEd requirements, but also specifically designed to prepare future teachers of Earth Systems Science.

The primary objectives of the course include: a) helping students to understand the key concepts of the Climate System as part of the Earth System Science and potential interactions of its component spheres; and b) introducing natural and anthropogenic forcing agents and mechanisms regulating global climate system; and c) discussing potential impact of these agents on the environmental and human health. Students will be able to retrieve and analyze real-world data. At the end of the course, students are expected to evaluate scientific evidence and explanations, and to understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge.