Implementation of AMS Climate Studies Curriculum as a Lab Course at a Small Liberal Arts Institution

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Rebecca Paulsen Edwards, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX

Southwestern University is a small liberal arts institution located in Georgetown, Texas. Its Natural Science division is composed of Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics, and Environmental Studies departments. The AMS Climate Studies Curriculum will be offered by the Environmental Studies program as a general education lab science course entitled “Introduction to Climate Science.”

Introduction to Climate Science will be offered as a lecture course with a lab. Several wet-lab type of experiments are planned, primarily in the first part of the course, which will focus on the physical fundamentals of climate. However, the majority of the lab will take place in the computer lab using the eInvestigations manual in addition to other activities planned by the instructor. In this way, the course will be able to best take advantage of up-to-date model data and other online resources.

Introduction to Climate Science will be part of a campuswide program called “Paidea” in which students choose three classes from different disciplines that all approach a single problem from different angles. The theme in which the Climate Science course is situated is “The Anthropocene” and focuses on how human activities are changing the Earth and its ecosystems, and in turn, how those changes are affecting human cultures, livelihoods and well-being. Students participating in the Paidea program will be required to maintain a portfolio of writing about how each of their classes informs their view on the central topic. Introduction to Climate science provides an important scientific component to the Anthropocene cluster.