May 09, 2003

A course I'd like to teach

Tonight I am going to do something a little different. Rather than a mini-essay, I am going to present the syllabus for a course that I think would be fun to teach someday. In keeping with the spirit of the blog, it is a first pass not a finished product.

Introduction to the Science of the Environment

I. Introduction to Scientific Thinking (2 weeks)

  • Brief history of Cosmology
  • The Calculus
  • Kuhn, Popper, Feyerbend (or why the extreme postmodern doesn't matter)
  • Reductionism and Determinism

II. Cycles and Systems (4 weeks)

  • Rocks (how old is Earth and how do we know?)
  • Hydrologic Cycle
  • Ocean and Atmospheric Circulation
  • Carbon & Nitrogen Cycles
  • Industrial Ecology

III. Models (1 week)

  • Conceptual models
  • Analytic models
  • Comuter models
  • Data, Models and Results (chickens and eggs)

Review and Mid-term exam

IV. Introduction to Ecosystems (2 weeks)

  • Trophic structures
  • The work of the Odum Brothers (energy flows through natural systems)
  • Types and Distributions
  • Urban Metabolism and Ecologic Footprints

V. Introduction to Public Health (3 Weeks)

  • Aggregate vs Individual health
  • Toxicology
  • Epidemiology

Begin Aside
This is a topic that could use some more thought. Clearly it is the one I am least familiar with.
End Aside

VI. Wrap up / Tie it all together (1 week)

Final Paper - Write an intellectual history of a major environmental concept (chosen from a list e.g. Sanitation, Clean Air, Climate Change etc.)