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GEOS 101 – Global Environmental Science


Course Syllabus (link to pdf)

Course Description: Geology is the scientific study of the Earth system at various scales of time and space. Environmental Science is an applied subdiscipline of geology, with a focus on the relationship between humans and the Earth. Essentially, it explores how we can use geologic knowledge to address human concerns about their surroundings. These concerns can range from natural disasters (such as earthquakes, flooding, and landslides), to the supply of fossil fuels, to the pollution of air, water, and soils. In this course, students will use the Scientific Method and an Earth Systems approach to explore the interaction between humans and their environment. This course will examine Earth’s atmospheric, oceanic, and biologic systems and cycles – which are driven primarily by energy from the Sun – as well as Earth’s geologic systems and cycles (e.g., Plate Tectonics and the Rock Cycle), which are driven primarily by heat energy from within the Earth. Specific topics this course will address include plate tectonics, Earth materials, natural hazards (e.g., volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, severe weather), cycling of energy and elements, natural resources, environmental sustainability, and climate change.

Course Learning Outcomes: Boise State’s Foundational Studies Program provides undergraduates with a broad-based education that spans the entire university experience. GEOS 101: Global Environmental Science satisfies four credits of the Foundational Studies Program’s Disciplinary Lens – Natural, Physical, and Applied Science (DL-N) requirement. It supports the following University Learning Outcome, along with a variety of other course-specific goals:

  1. Apply knowledge and the methods characteristic of scientific inquiry to think critically about and solve theoretical and practical problems about physical structures and processes.

GEOS 101: Global Environmental Science is designed help students understand the major components of the Earth System (atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere), and the cycles through which they interact, through the perspective of an Earth System scientist. This course helps to achieve the goals of the Foundational Studies Program by focusing on the following course learning outcomes. After successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • 1) develop and articulate a question based on relevant geologic observations, 2) describe parallel, testable hypotheses that explain your observations, 3) design a simple experiment to test each hypothesis, and 4) evaluate the results of the experiment to decide which hypotheses are supported by the data.
  • clearly differentiate between observation and interpretation of geologic data, and summarize and relate observations in order to support an interpretation.
  • clearly and accurately apply scientific terms and principles to construct organized and concise written, oral, and graphical communication about important ideas such as Earth’s energy budget, atmospheric composition and circulation, the hydrologic cycle and water resources, plate tectonics and the rock cycle, landform development, and past and current climate change.
  • 1) describe the primary ways in which humans are affected by each of the major components of the Earth System, 2) explain how scientific understanding about these components and their interaction has a direct impact on societal wellbeing, and 3) summarize scientific data illustrating ways in which human activities can in turn affect the Earth System.