CLIMATE 171 - Introduction to Global Change: The Science Behind Sustainability
Fall 2022, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Climate & Meteorology (CLIMATE)
Department: CoE Climate and Space
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
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:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/29/22 - 12/9/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Everyday, human and natural activities are altering the planet on which we live. Through our increasing resource consumption, population growth, disturbance of natural systems, and technological advancement, we are changing the global climate and environment in a manner that is unique over Earth’s history. Many of these changes are degrading the physical and biological processes that underpin Earth’s life-support systems, which poses a great challenge for society in this century.

This course, Global Change — the Science of Sustainability, investigates the causes and impacts of these changes using a combination of traditional lecture-based and modern digital teaching methodologies. The course surveys the evolution and interaction of physical, chemical, and biological processes on Earth; how past changes on Earth help us predict the future, especially with respect to climate change; and how fundamental principles of science establish the sustainability of human activities on Earth. Students apply learned knowledge by using ‘systems modeling’ and spreadsheet software to investigate the dynamics of natural systems and examine case studies of relevant environmental problems.

The course curriculum provides excellent opportunities to conduct research on topics of interest to the students, culminating in a course project presented at the end of the academic term. The interactive laboratory exercises provide students the opportunity to use software tools 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, students will have ample time for discussion of critical issues in natural resources and sustainability, and the role of environmental science in policy and society as a whole. All topics are developed in a manner that students will find both accessible and interesting. After the course, students should be able to discern sound science from biased claims and will have a foundation for making informed decisions about sustainable practices in their own lives.

You will discuss...

  • Current and Projected Global Change (e.g., Climate Change and Biodiversity)
  • The Role of the Individual as a Citizen of the Planet
  • How to distinguish “fake news” from substantiated facts
  • Case Studies of Regional and Global Change and Sustainability Issues

You will create...

  • Models of Interacting Systems that Give Insight into the Collision Between Natural and Societal Processes
  • A research presentation on a Topic of your choice Related to Global Change and Sustainability

Topics that are covered include...

  • Evolution of our Universe and Planet:
    • Big Bang Theory
    • Radiation Laws
    • Planetary Energy Budget
    • The Age of the Earth
    • Plate Tectonics
    • Biological Evolution
    • The Fossil Record of Life
  • Earth's Climate and its Controls:
    • 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 events
  • Biodiversity and the Tree of Life:
    • Emergence of Complex Life
    • Formation and Extinction of Species
    • The Biodiversity Crisis
    • Natural Selection
    • Respiration and Photosynthesis
    • Ecological interactions
    • Ecosystems
  • Sustainability and Projected Ecological Consequences:
    • Shifting Climate and Water Resources, and their Impacts on Life
    • Current Threats to the Services that Ecosystems Provide to Society
    • Environmental Pollution
    • Land-use Change and the Sustainability of Agriculture
    • The Demise of Tropical Forests and the Dwindling of Biodiversity

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 and sustainability.

Intended Audience:

No science background is assumed. The course is appropriate for all undergraduate students, irrespective of the intended major.

Class Format:

Instruction & Learning Mode: There will be three one-hour lecture periods plus one two-hour lab period per week in person. All sections (001-006) of this course will be held synchronously and In-Person for the Fall 2022 term.


CLIMATE 171 - Introduction to Global Change: The Science Behind Sustainability
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MWF 12:00PM - 1:00PM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22
002 (LAB)
 In Person
M 5:30PM - 7:30PM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22
003 (LAB)
 In Person
M 1:00PM - 3:00PM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22
004 (LAB)
 In Person
Tu 9:00AM - 11:00AM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22
005 (LAB)
 In Person
Tu 3:00PM - 5:00PM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22
006 (LAB)
 In Person
W 1:00PM - 3:00PM
8/29/22 - 12/9/22

Textbooks/Other Materials

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