Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Course Content and Outcomes Guide for G 184 Effective Summer 2021

Course Number:
G 184
Course Title:
Global Climate Change
Credit Hours:
4
Lecture Hours:
30
Lecture/Lab Hours:
0
Lab Hours:
30
Special Fee:

Course Description

Covers characteristics of Earth's climate system. Includes the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, and solid Earth as well as past, present, and future climate change and future mitigation and adaptation efforts. Includes a weekly lab. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of Earth's climate system and climate change, including historical perspectives. This one-term survey course may be used to partly fulfill General Education/Discipline Studies graduation requirements for the Associate Degrees, and has been approved for block transfer. 

Students are expected to be able to read and comprehend college-level science texts and perform basic mathematical operations to successfully complete this course.

Field Based Learning Statement

Earth and space sciences are based on observations, measurements and samples collected in the field. Field-based learning is recommended by numerous professional Geology organizations, including the American Geological Institute and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Field-based learning improves both metacognition and spatial/visualization abilities while helping to transfer basic concepts to long-term memory by engaging multiple senses at the same time. Spatial thinking is critical to success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines. Field work may include:

  • Developing skills in site characterization
  • Application of key terms and concepts
  • Measurement and data collection
  • Interpretation of data and observations, and fitting them to a larger context

Field work may be physically challenging and may require overland travel on foot or other means to field sites, carrying equipment and supplies, and making measurements in unusual or awkward positions for a length of time.  Field work may include inherent risks (uneven terrain, variable weather, insects, environmental irritants, travel stress, etc.). Field work can be adapted to individual abilities.

Creation Science Statement
 

Regarding the teaching of basic scientific principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution), the Portland Community College Geology/General Science Subject Area Committee  stands by the following statements about what is science.
 

  • Science is a fundamentally non-dogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. A scientific theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.

  • “Creation science,” also known as scientific creationism, is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F.2d 1004).

  • Geology/General Science instructors at Portland Community College will teach the generally accepted basic geologic principles (such as geologic time and the theory of evolution) not as absolute truth, but as the most widely accepted explanation for our observations of the world around us. Instructors will not teach that “creation science” is anything other than pseudoscience.

  • Because "creation science", "scientific creationism", and "intelligent design" are essentially religious doctrines that are at odds with open scientific inquiry, the Geology/General Sciences SAC at Portland Community College stands with such organizations such as the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and the American Geological Institute in excluding these doctrines from our science curriculum.


 

Intended Outcomes for the course

After taking this course, students should be able to:

1. Use an Earth system perspective that includes the atmosphere, hydrosphere, solid earth, and biosphere to explain past, present, and future global climate patterns.

2. Identify both human and non-human forcings on the climate system and the system response to these forcings including possible feedback mechanisms.  

3. Use real data to document climate change impacts both globally and in the Pacific Northwest and link these changes to the current scientific understanding of climate change.

4. Make field, laboratory and web based observations and measurements of climate, use scientific reasoning to interpret these observations and measurements, and compare the results with current models of the climate system identifying areas of congruence and discrepancy.

5. Access climate science information from a variety of sources, evaluate the quality of this information, and critically compare this information with current models of the climate system.

6. Use scientifically valid modes of inquiry, individually and collaboratively, to critically assess the hazards and risks posed by climate change, to themselves and society, and evaluate the efficacy of ethically robust responses to these risks.

7. Communicate effectively about Earth’s changing climate, its impacts, and possible responses from an Earth System perspective.

Aspirational Goals

After taking this course, students should be able to:

  1. Engage in informed reflection about their personal role in Earth’s climate system and make evidence-based decisions on how to react to future climate change.

  2. Become a Climate science literate citizen.

    A Climate-science-literate citizen:

  • understands the essential principles of Earth’s climate system

  • knows how to assess scientifically credible information about climate

  • communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way

  • is able to make informed and responsible decisions with regard to actions that may affect climate

    (Supporting concepts from Climate Program Office of NOAA)

Course Activities and Design

The material in this course will be presented in a lecture/discussion format accompanied by laboratory exercises. Other educationally sound methods may be employed such as guest lectures, field trips, research papers, presentations and small group work. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The instructor will choose from the following methods of assessment: exams, quizzes, lab exercises, written reports, oral presentations, group projects, class participation, homework assignments, and field trips. The instructor shall detail the methods to be used to the students at the beginning of the course.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Explain the nature and history of climate science

Outline basic concepts of systems such as couplings and feedback loops

Discuss the basic physical principles of energy in the Earth system

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of the solid Earth

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of Earth’s oceans

Discuss the basic structure and dynamics of Earth’s biosphere

Outline the details of nutrient cycles that link the elements of the Earth system

Discuss climate zones on Earth and the factors that shape them

Explain how and why the climate changes on a variety of time scales including long-term climate history and future climate change

Discuss how humans impact climate

Outline the structure of a global climate model and how climate models can be used

Outline Pacific Northwest and global impacts of climate change

Identify how decisions are made globally with respect to climate

Compare and contrast adaptation, mitigation, and geoengineering techniques used to lessen the effects of climate change

Other topics as desired by the instructor