Climate science, impacts of climate change on society, and adaptation/mitigation challenges.

Faculty: Arts
Subject: Geography
Year / Level: 3
Theme: Climate Science; Climate Justice and Social Science



Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. This course provides students with the critical scientific grounding to understand the dynamics of the climate system, the causes of climate change, the impact of climate change on society, and the challenges of mitigation and adaptation.

The first part of the semester is devoted to the science of the climate system. This includes how the sun and planetary motion affects the Earth's energy budget, atmospheric composition and radiative forcing, the carbon cycle, global atmospheric and oceanic circulation, and modes of climate variability. The second part of the semester is devoted more to the interactions between society and the climate. We begin by examining how climate has varied in the past and the effect on the development of human society. Then we discuss the current and predicted impacts of climate change on environment and society, the communications challenge, and the politics and economics of controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the semester, a student that does the readings, reviews the course material, participates in the classroom and devotes time to the assignments and group project should:

1. Be able to explain the scientific evidence for human-induced climate change or “global warming” to a member of their family;
2. Possess the language and knowledge-base necessary to discuss the science, politics and policy of climate change with their peers;
3. Have an appreciation for the effect of climate variability and change on society throughout history;
4. Be able to evaluate the quality of scientific information presented in the media;
5. Understand some of the cultural, political and economic challenges of responding to climate change (via the “Climate Summit”)


Check SISC to see if the course is currently offered and if you meet pre-requisites etc.

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Read a copy of the course syllabus to see reading lists, assignments, grading, and more.



Simon Donner

"Climate change is a crisis not because of the immediate impact of our actions, but because the actions we choose now will have impacts for decades and centuries beyond."