B CUSP 119
Evaluates progress at the conclusion of the first year through the construction of a portfolio and offers an experiential learning opportunity, either on- or off-campus. Prerequisite: either B CUSP 115, B CUSP 116, or B CUSP 117; may not be repeated. Offered: Sp.
Modern debates on implementation of climate policy and the rigor of climate science are common media topics, but they haven’t always been part of the social and political landscape. Although the “greenhouse effect” and the dynamic nature of Earth’s climate were recognized almost 200 years ago and the first calculations of anthropogenic contributions to greenhouse gasses were published before the turn of the 20th century, the discussion of “climate change” in the public arena began in the 1970s, becoming widespread only 20 years ago. These scientific discoveries and debates have evolved over two centuries; to fully appreciate the subject and understand it’s complexity, a complete history is needed, including all the players — mathematicians and biologists, lab technicians and bureaucrats, industrialists and politicians, reporters and citizens. We will learn about the main players in early climate science, including the contributions of mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier (1768-1830), physical chemist Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927), oceanographer Charles Keeling (1928-2005), and modern scientists, economists, and politicians who are shaping the way we understand and respond to climate change today. As we reconstruct the development of climate science from the first discoveries to the threshold of modern science, we will learn who asked the first questions about climate, and why? We will ask what assumptions about climate have changed in the past 200 years, and what discoveries led to those changes? We will investigate the science as it is understood today, using practical exercises and case studies to better understand climate research and we will read and compare media accounts of climate science from the 1930s, 1970s and today, striving to understand the events that brought climate science into the public sphere.
Student learning goals
Students will learn to identify and write scientific hypotheses.
Students will practice quantitative and evidence-based writing.
Students will use quantitative information to help form and support an argument.
Students will understand, describe, and discuss the way that science influences politics and policy.
Students will understand, describe, and discuss the process of scientific discovery, using the development of climate science as an example.
General method of instruction
Lecture, small-group discussion, class website on Canvas.
Class assignments and grading
Grades will be based on a variety of assessments including in-class group work, homework based on reading case studies, discussion and presentation, exams.