The world presents us with many types of environmental problems. Everyone needs to have a basic understanding of the scientific knowledge and theories that are needed to solve these problems, so that they can make informed decisions as educated citizens. We will use a case study approach to learn how to apply knowledge and theory to the process of developing solutions.
Examples of the kinds of case studies that we will study include:
- Use and subsequent ban on use of DDT and PCB, including examples from Michigan
- Control of vampire bats in Central and South America
- Reservoir construction and mercury poisoning
- Role of wastewater treatment facilities in the water quality of lakes along the Huron River near Ann Arbor
- Acid Rain
- Biological species invasions
- Ecological effects of nuclear radiation
- Climate change and efforts to reverse current trends
- Landscape fragmentation, spotted owls and other examples
- Habitat restoration
Additional readings will include the nature of science, debates about science vs. "junk science", and even about the mindsets of typical scientists.
Grading is based on in-class quizzes and graded evaluation of two essay assignments. The essays will give you the opportunity to identify an environmental problem, state elements of theory, report present understanding about the problem, and suggest ways to verify the facts.
This course can be elected by undergraduate students in any year of their degree program.
There will be two lectures per week.