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Course Information

Instructor Info:Steve Roof
Office Extension x5667
TA Info:Mia Brody
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
02:30 PM - 03:50 PM Cole Science Center 316
02:30 PM - 03:50 PM Cole Science Center 316

Humans are recent tenants on an ancient Earth. Understanding Earth's remarkable history is enlightening yet humbling. Earth's history provides a critical lens for evaluating modern environmental science issues of our modern world. In this course, we will travel through time to study the evolution of Earth from its fiery beginning over 4.5 billion years ago to the present day. We will explore the physical and biological evolution of Earth and gain an appreciation for Earth as a series of complex systems that interact dynamically and holistically. We will also learn how geologists reconstruct Earth history and as well as predict the future. This course will be valuable for anyone who is curious about the past and/or concerned about the future of Earth and its tenants. This course satisfies Division I “Physical and Biological Sciences” distribution requirements.

Course Objectives:

We will start the semester by learning how Earth “works”.  We’ll learn about rocks, geologic time, fossils, evolution of life, and plate tectonics.  For the second part of the semester, we’ll walk through Earth’s history, examining the major physical and biological events that have led to the world as we know it today.  We’ll finish the semester by looking into the future and asking “how will Earth and its denizens fare in the coming decades?”

This course will be intensive!  Numerous assignments will give you the chance to develop and share your knowledge.  These exercises are designed to help you learn in conjunction with the Earth Systems History* textbook.  For this course to work well, everyone must read the background materials carefully ahead of time and come to class prepared to discuss issues. Active class participation and attendance are essential! (I take attendance!)  Please note that “being prepared” means more than simply having read the assigned words! You must also processes and understand what you have read, and be aware of the parts you do not understand.  I am always happy to respond to your questions by email anytime.  I also expect you’ll visit me during office hours.

*Earth Systems History, 3rd edition, Steven M. Stanley (pdf copies of chapters will be available on this website.  The book can be purchased used for $80 at various online booksellers)

Evaluation Criteria:

In order to receive an evaluation for your work in this course, you must complete all the course work and submit a portfolio and self evaluation by the end of the exam period.  Details about your portfolio will be discussed in class, but remember, it must contain all the work you have done during the semester, so be sure to save all of your work!  You will also write a self-evaluation that addresses your progress on your learning goals.  Your course evaluation will be based on class participation, short papers, and research projects, and presentations.

Additional Info:

Your attendance in class is crucial!  Please come to every class on time, pay attention, ask questions, and contribute to discussions.  If you bring a laptop to class, do not check email, facebook, or do anything unrelated to the current class focus. 

Completing assignments on time is also crucial.  I am accommodating of illnesses and other challenges that might affect your ability to attend classes and complete assignments, but you must contact me promptly to propose how you will complete your work.