Many Earth system science courses are remarkably exciting. Natural disasters, cool technology, satellite images, societal impacts, local field studies, global climate change – these ideas provide a “hook” that engages students beyond the classroom. This section illustrates learning modules and unique courses that have this WOW factor.
Developed by ESSE21 participants, these exemplary resources may be useful for existing courses or for future course development. Specific modules on remote sensing, land use/land cover change, geoinformatics, local energy balance, urban system interactions, pollution protection, and the Earth system are provided.
Topical and Engaging Courses This section provides a sampling of cool courses offered by ESSE participants. More courses can be found in the ESSE Syllabi section of the Design Guide.
- ENVS 110 Understanding Earth, University of Missouri, Kansas City. In addition to a comprehensive introduction to the Earth system, this large survey course includes a community environmental service project. The projects incorporate concepts developed in class, including ecological restoration and watershed clean-up.
- PHY 101 The Day After Tomorrow: Global Climate and Extreme Weather, Austin College. In the first week of class, students develop their own questions on climate change and extreme weather while watching the Hollywood blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow. Course lectures, laboratory experiments, and discussions are then designed to address these specific student questions.
- GEOG 135 Mock Environmental Summit, University of California, Santa Barbara. Students act as representatives of different countries participating in environmental treaty negotiations. Students work in teams of four or five to prepare a presentation and discussion of environmental issues of concern to the world (e.g., energy, greenhouse gases, etc.)
- GEOS 378 Introduction to Geoinformatics, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In this upper-level undergraduate course, students complete a final project (on a topic of their choice) by processing and analyzing geospatial data. In addition to a final paper, students communicate their research to their peers through a 10-minute scientific presentation.