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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Rebecca A Woodgate
OCEAN 122
Seattle Campus

Arctic Change

Investigates the Arctic system of ocean, ice, atmosphere, and sea-floor; how humans interact with it, and what the future of the Arctic means to the world. Includes sea-ice loss, climate impacts, and Arctic resource exploitation. Offered: Sp.

Class description

ARCTIC CHANGE: - an interdisciplinary, science-based look at what everyone should know about the Arctic in our world today.

The Arctic is no longer remote. Arctic sea-ice loss, shipping through the legendary Northwest Passage, the international land-grab for the North Pole and the Arctic sea floor, Arctic oil and gas exploration, the fate of the polar bear – these and more are all household terms. Yet, many people’s understanding of this system and the reality of the issues is based primarily on news and media coverage. The UW houses a remarkably wide range of world-class Arctic research – this course will access that knowledge base and provide an interdisciplinary, science-based introduction to Arctic science and topical world issues that are at the forefront of understanding how the Arctic works today, how the Arctic is changing, and what impacts those changes may have on us. We will investigate the Arctic ocean, ice, atmosphere, and sea-floor; Arctic ecosystems from the 'charismatic megafauna' (polar bears and more) to the (not so charismatic?) microbes that exist inside the matrix structure of sea-ice; and how humans interact with the Arctic system. We will study how we got to know what we know, how we advance our knowledge now, and how Arctic studies may look in the future. We will consider how the components interact, how they are changing, what the future may hold, and what international governments are squabbling over at the minute. We will include guest lectures by internationally recognized UW experts in a wide range of fields. The course is offered at the 100 level, to interest both those considering a major in science and those who seek a topical course to fulfill an out-of-option requirement. It will provide a level of understanding suitable for those going onto a career in many non-science fields, including education, government advising, and Arctic-relevant industry. It will also provide a science introduction that may spark enthusiasm for a major in science.

Student learning goals

By the end of the course, you should have: - qualitative and quantitative fact-based interdisciplinary knowledge of the key aspects of the Arctic system, including how the components of the system interact, and the current challenges and possible future impacts of Arctic Change; - an ability to critically, qualitatively and quantitatively assess information from various sources (e.g., media, academic research, internet), especially in issues concerning the Arctic. … and an enthusiasm for a realm that is at the forefront of science and exploration in our world today.

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Rebecca A Woodgate
Date: 04/04/2011