ENSCEN 171 - Introduction of Global Change: Physical Processes
Section: 001
Term: FA 2012
Subject: Environmental Sciences and Engineering (ENSCEN)
Department: CoE Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Requirements & Distribution:
Credit Exclusions:
Credit is granted for a combined total of 17 credits elected in introductory biology.
Other Course Info:
Satisfies the geography requirement for State of Michigan certification for social studies teachers. F.
This course counts toward the 60 credits of math/science required for a Bachelor of Science degree.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


  • George Kling (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), gwk@umich.edu
  • Catherine Badgley (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), cbadgley@umich.edu
  • Christopher Poulson (Geology), poulsen@umich.edu

Every day, millions of human and natural activities are altering the planet on which we live. Over the past century, through our ever-increasing population and mastery of technology, we have been changing the global environment at a pace unknown to natural history.

The University of Michigan Global Change Program offers an interdisciplinary, introductory course sequence which investigates the causes and potential impacts of these changes using a combination of traditional lecture-based and modern web-based teaching methodologies. The Fall Academic Term course deals with issues relating to the physical, chemical, and biological cycles contributing to Global Change. Students apply learned knowledge by using spreadsheet and systems modeling software to investigate the dynamics of natural systems.

The Web-based course curriculum provides unparalleled opportunities to conduct on-line Internet research. In fact, you will create your own web-based poster on a topic of your choosing. The interactive laboratory exercises provide you the opportunity to use computers to examine how natural systems function as well as develop projections of the future consequences of changes in the environment. And, perhaps most important of all, you will have ample time for discussion of the critical issues in human development and how they relate to the international business community, global economics, society as a whole and the individual. All topics are developed in a manner that students will find both accessible and enjoyable.

You will discuss...

  • Current and Projected Global Change
  • The Role of the Individual as a Citizen of the Planet
  • Case Studies of Regional and Global Change Issues

You will create...

  • Models of Interacting Systems that Give Insight into the Collision Between Natural and Societal Processes
  • A Web-based Poster on a Related Topic of Your Choice

Topics that are covered ......

The Universe:

  • Big Bang Theory
  • Birth and Death of Stars
  • Radiation Laws
  • Origin of the Elements
  • Planetary Energy Budget

Our Planet:

  • The Age of the Earth
  • Primitive Atmospheres
  • Natural Hazards
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Chemical & Biological Evolution
  • The Building Blocks for Life

Earth's Atmospheric & Oceanic Evolution:

  • Life Processes and Earth Systems
  • The Great Ice Ages
  • Atmospheric Circulation and Weather
  • Climate and Paleoclimate
  • Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming
  • Sea Level Change
  • El Niño

The Tree of Life:

  • Emergence of Complex Life
  • Extinction and Radiation
  • The Five Kingdoms
  • Natural Selection
  • Respiration and Photosynthesis
  • Ecosystems

Projected Ecological Consequences:

  • Elevated Carbon Dioxide Levels
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Ozone Depletion
  • Likelihood of Global Climatic Change

Course Requirements:

The course grade is based on two midterm exams, a final exam, completion of laboratory modules, and a course project based on some aspect of global change.

Intended Audience:

There are no prerequisites for the course and no science background is assumed. The course is appropriate for all undergraduate students, irrespective of intended concentration, and is the first of a series of courses that can be taken as part of the Global Change Minor.

Class Format:

No data submitted

ENSCEN 171 - Introduction of Global Change: Physical Processes
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MWF 12:00PM - 1:00PM
002 (LAB)
W 3:00PM - 5:00PM
003 (LAB)
Th 1:00PM - 3:00PM
004 (LAB)
M 3:00PM - 5:00PM
005 (LAB)
Tu 9:00AM - 11:00AM
006 (LAB)
Tu 11:00AM - 1:00PM
007 (LAB)
M 1:00PM - 3:00PM
008 (LAB)
W 1:00PM - 3:00PM
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