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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Earth Sciences (EARTH)

EARTH 105 (GN;IL) (AFR 105) Environments of Africa: Geology and Climate Change (3) Significant natural features of Africa as related to human endeavor; case studies include the Nile, climate change, and natural resources.

EARTH (AAA S) 105 Environments of Africa: Geology and Climate History (3)

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

"Environments of African: Geology and Climate History" investigates the interrelationships between geology, hydrology, land use and human development in several areas of Africa. We focus primarily on regions north of the equator, although there is a brief segment on South Africa mining. Specific topics include the Nile River (sources of the Nile, agricultural practices, effects of damming the Nile, hydropolitics), the Sahara and Sahel (salt mines, climate change, drought, water resources), and natural resources and their role in politics (gold, diamonds, oil, and gas). The theme of climate change cuts across the entire semester. The quantitative and analytical components of the course involve working through a combination of map exercises and data manipulations (flood stage, groundwater age, rainfall and temperature records). Writing exercises are conducted both individually (essays, analysis of readings) and in collaborative teams (climate change analysis). Readings for the course come from the popular scientific literature; current refereed research journals, and transcribed oral histories of African people. Faculty lectures will comprise ~30% of the course, and student presentations ~20%, with the remainder of the time devoted to in-class collaborative exercises. There are no pre-requisites for this course. It will be offered annually with a maximum enrollment of 100 students.

The goals of the course are to (1) introduce the scientific study of Africa; (2) develop quantitative and scientific reasoning skills; (3) explore the relationship between human society and the natural world. The topics that we explore (e.g., global climate change, allocation of limited water resources) are important political issues that affect people in developed and developing countries throughout the world. It is crucial that the next generation of citizens be informed as to how scientific data is obtained, presented, and interpreted by scientists as well as politicians. Students will work individually and (more commonly) in teams to analyze real data from natural African systems, and will then report their findings to the class both orally and in writing. Examples of the data sets include 100-year records of monthly rainfall and temperature from stations throughout the continent, fossil suites from ancient lake cores in the modern Sahara, and historical writings of Nile flood levels from pre-Biblical times. Through these exercises students will gain an appreciation of the scope of geological time and change, and will be able to incorporate this new long-term perspective into identification and resolution of modern quesitons.

General Education: GN
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Natural Sciences
Effective: Spring 2013

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


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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