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IDS 3211C: Global Climate Change: Science, Society, and Solution

Course Description

Environmental concerns have become increasingly important in our world. Much of this is due to the fact that that not only does society affect its natural environment-but our natural environment comes back to affect us as well. Perhaps the best example to this scenario is the phenomenon of global climate change and the social, ethical, economic and political as well as environmental consequences that will result from it.

Global climate change is a unique issue in that it is biospheric in nature, meaning it will impact all people, all societies and all ecosystems. It also provides arguably the greatest challenge currently facing humanity over the coming decades. That challenge also represents unique opportunities for involving many in coming up with innovative solutions that can help mitigate some of the most severe impacts climate change will impose upon humanity.

Global Climate Change: Science, Society and Solutions will seek to examine these themes through an interdisciplinary lens that includes physical, natural and social science aspects.

Our class will address the core topics which are central to understanding global climate change in a way that is understandable and accessible. We will begin with an examination of "Climate Change Basics." This section will provide you with the fundamental scientific understanding you need by examining the scientific principles and concepts that underlie climate change. The scientific method and its application will be central to your knowledge of climate change. They will serve as the basis for "Climate Change and Projections," which follows. We will examine what climate change will mean from a global perspective?examining ecosystems and people around the world in highlighting vulnerabilities. This section will also focus on how changing environmental conditions can affect social conditions (for example, drought-like conditions leading to war over water rights). We will conclude with a section on "Climate Change Solutions," which will discuss how the world arrived at the point we are at and what can be done about it, including current and future strategies.

Instructor: Patricia Houle<>

Instructor: Ping Zhu<>

When: Fall 2013 Mon/Wed/Fri, 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM, 08/26/2013 - 12/07/2013

Where: U.S. Century Bank Arena 117

Office hours for Ping Zhu:

  • Thur, 11:00AM-1:00 PM, MARC 367



    Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump, Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming,Published in the United States by DK Publishing, Inc.

    Useful Links:

    World Meteorological Organization
    IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
    Ocean Drilling Program
    Climate Change | U.S. EPA
    Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM)
    The Ozone Hole
    El Nino


    Syllabus(weeks approximate)