In this course, you’ll learn about the the systems the Earth contains, from deep in the interior of the Earth to the living organisms that inhabit the surface. We will dive deep to explore the processes that shape Earth, understand why the oceans and the continents are where they are, and we will analyze what organisms can live where.
Throughout the semester we will also analyze and discuss how humans have shaped the Earth’s systems, how our acts are reaching (and in some cases, going beyond) the planetary boundaries, and how with our actions we can regenerate what has been degraded.
Your goal in this course is to gain a basic appreciation of the structure and composition of our planet, the physical and chemical processes that have shaped and continue to shape Earth’s surface over its long history, and the ways that humans interact with the Earth’s systems—for better or worse. The course focuses on how these dynamic interactions result in global-scale changes in Earth’s climate and biogeochemical cycles at different time scales, ranging from tectonic (millions of years) to human (years to centuries). Topics covered in the course include, but aren’t limited to:
- The role of internal earth geodynamics in shaping the planet and creating a habitat for life’s emergence,
- The role of life in transforming the Earth’s surface environment,
- The role of the Oceans and the atmosphere as regulators of the Earth’s climate, and
- The role of the cryosphere in modulating this climate through dynamic feedback.
Students will investigate the formation of the universe during a field trip to the Madrid Planetarium. At Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences, you’ll discuss the threat of species extinction and the importance of biodiversity with one of the museum curators.
In EAR104, the accompanying lab course, a field trip to the geologically and biologically unique Sierra de Guadarrama National Park gives you the chance to hike the mountain range of Guadarrama and explore its most important geological structures, including Peñalara, the highest peak in the range.
Matriculated Syracuse students: EAR105 meets a natural science divisional requirement. If taken with EAR104, this course meets the natural science laboratory requirement. You may not receive credit for both EAR105 and EAR110.
Corequisite: To fulfill a laboratory science requirement, matriculated Syracuse students must also register for EAR104 (1 credit).
Department: Earth Science
Semesters: Fall, Spring