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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Earth Sciences (EARTH)

EARTH 101 (GN;US) Natural Disasters: Hollywood vs. Reality (3) Analysis of the causes and consequences of natural disasters; comparison of popular media portrayal of disasters with perspective from scientific research.

EARTH 101 Natural Disasters: Hollywood vs. Reality (3)
(GN;US)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course investigates a variety of natural hazards and disasters. We will use the popular media as a starting point for discussions and development of tools for analyzing the causes of disasters. Using excerpted segments of "disaster films" in conjunction with scientific treatments, we can identify the causes, consequences and public perceptions of natural hazards. Small group discussions and cooperative research held "real time" in the classroom will be a major component of this course. The goal is to help students develop both an understanding of natural hazards and disasters, and enhance their understanding of scientific approaches to problem solving.

During the course approximately four to five topics selected from the list of volcanoes,, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, bolloid (e.g., asteroid) impacts, and tsunami (tidal waves) will be covered. For each topic, we will incorporate the following activities: (a) short edited excepts from disaster movies (or equivalent) of approximately 10 minutes each; (b) discussions by small groups of students (approximately 10 per group) to identify scientific issues to be addressed; (c) development of scientific background and tools via faculty lectures, tutorials, and library or web-based activities; (d) cooperative learning activities by small student groups--each group working together to address one of the identified scientific issues; (e) group presentations of results of the cooperative learning activity; and (f) individual writing activities producing focused reports on specific scientific issues. A typical topic will be covered in three weeks (six class meetings) with approximately 50 percent of the time (in class) allotted to group activities and discussion; lecturing by the faculty will involve approximately 25 percent of the time, with the remaining 25 percent of the time used for video and Wed-based presentations.

Grades will be based on participation in "breakout" group discussions and cooperative activities, writing assignments ( (two to three pages each) associated with each topic, and an annotated "disaster diary" of natural disasters which have occurred during the course. Each writing assignment will be aimed at a client audience (e.g., municipal government, businesses, or the general public) and written to explain the exposure to natural hazards or potential for disaster faced by the client.

This course has no prerequisites and should be accessible to all students. Through cooperative activities students can benefit from the range of expertise brought to the course by their colleagues and thus address scientific issues beyond the reach of any individual.


General Education: GN
Diversity: US
Bachelor of Arts: Natural Sciences
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.