Geo350: Population and Environment – in a nutshell…

Geo350 examines the impact of human population dynamics on individuals, societies and the earth’s physical and biological environment. Beginning with an analysis of some of the general issues associated with human population change over time, we will move toward a deeper analysis of the associated environmental consequences, and the social, economic and philosophical dimensions of a growing, and often more consumptive, human population.

This is a “Hybrid” version of Geo350, meaning it will be balanced between on-campus, traditional class sessions and intensive online activity and interaction. The hybrid model provides an opportunity to borrow the best from both traditional and more recent online learning strategies: classroom lectures and active-learning exercises will benefit from face-to-face discussions and interactions, while the online component provides flexibility and promotes the use of web-based tools for learning.

After the introductory classroom meeting, students will be responsible for reading and watching online lectures and videos, taking quizzes and conducting mini-research assignments, and bringing their research to our in-class sessions.

The nine classroom sessions will be built around an active-learning exercise associated with a specific weekly topic. Topics will be purposefully broad and abstract—things like “Culture,” “Health,” “Agriculture,” “Consumption,” “Environmental Change,” as examples. Classroom sessions will focused on three primary goals: 1) to assess the state of knowledge on a topic through student research, 2) to examine the spatial aspects (patterns, processes, changes, etc.) of the topic, and 3) to help students gain a sense of their individual values or ethics related to the topic. As a result, classroom and online learning will be linked through preparation for, participation in, and reflection about face-to-face exercises and activities.

This class is often a very diverse group: majors include chemists, physicists, engineers, public health, forestry, agricultural science, earth science, and nearly every other possible discipline at OSU. My framework is deliberately aimed at giving students from a wide variety of backgrounds and majors a chance to not only understand the trajectories of human population change and its impacts, but to gain research and critical thinking experience applied to basic but fundamental parts of life and society.

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