Global Change:
Lecture Schedule Lab Schedule
The Science of Sustainability

University of Michigan
Fall Term





Every day, human and natural activities are altering the planet on which we live. Through our increasing resource consumption, population growth, disturbance of natural systems, and technological advancement, we have been changing the global climate and environment in a manner that is unique over Earth’s history. Whether these changes to Earth’s life-support systems are sustainable is perhaps the greatest question for society in this century.

This course, Global Change – the Science of Sustainability investigates the causes and potential impacts of these changes using a combination of traditional lecture-based and modern web-based teaching methodologies. The course surveys the evolution and interaction of physical, chemical, and biological processes; how past changes on Earth help us predict the future; and how fundamental principles of science establish the sustainability of human activities on Earth. Students apply learned knowledge by using systems modeling and spreadsheet software to investigate the dynamics of natural systems and examine case studies of relevant environmental problems. The course curriculum provides excellent opportunities to conduct research on topics of interest to the students, culminating in a course project presented at the end of the semester. The interactive laboratory exercises provide students the opportunity to use software tools to examine how natural systems function as well as develop projections of the future consequences of changes in the environment. And, perhaps most important of all, students will have ample time for discussion of critical issues in natural resources and sustainability, environmental policy and society as a whole. All topics are developed in a manner that students will find both accessible and interesting. After the course, students should be able to discern sound science from biased claims and will have a foundation for making informed decisions about sustainable practices in their own lives.

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