Eric P. Salathe
Introduction to the diversity of methods for collecting and analyzing data used to understand complex environmental issues. Case studies help to illustrate research design processes, and introduce key methods of data collection and analysis relevant to the problem. Prerequisite: minimum grade of 2.0 in ENVIR 100. Offered: AW.
How do we measure the physical and social environment? This course will introduce diverse methods for collecting and analyzing data used to understand environmental problems. Students will be taught: 1) how various data techniques and methods are used to address environmental questions; 2) how data from multiple disciplines may be integrated to study environmental systems; 3) how existing data can be used for monitoring environmental systems and for data mining; 4) the importance of bias and uncertainty in using and interpreting data; and 5) how hypotheses are generated and tested using data and observations.
Qualitative and quantitative data will be explored side by side with the guidance of a natural and social scientist to develop an awareness of the differences and similarities between these two areas of study. Students will learn the practical considerations of multiple techniques of collection and will put each method to use. The course will address the collection and use of data from interviews, surveys, participant observation, land- and sea-based instruments, satellite remote sensing, ecological field studies, and paleontological records.
Student learning goals
To understand how information (data) from different sources is obtained, studied, and integrated to address questions in environmental problems;
To understand bias, uncertainty, precision, and accuracy, in both quantitative and qualitative terms;
To understand the difference between creating new data and using existing data to address questions;
To understand the way multiple data sets from different sources or different disciplines can be integrated to address a single issue;
To understand the importance and integration of both quantitative and qualitative information.
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading