ESS 210: Collapse of Civilizations

This course will investigate why some cultures succeed and others fail. From the archeological and historical record of past civilizations we will examine the factors which lead to collapse in an attempt to address a question that is relevant to the contemporary worldnamely, how severe do internal stresses in a civilization have to become before relatively minor climate shifts can trigger a widespread cultural collapse?

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ES 370: Introduction to Remote Sensing

This course will investigate the basic physical principles of remote sensing systems and discuss the processing, interpretation, and applications of airborne and satellite data. Remote sensing is the art and science of obtaining information about an object without being in direct physical contact with it. No prior training in remote sensing is required. Remote sensing can be used to measure and monitor important biophysical characteristics and human activities on Earth. This information is critical in addressing the global environmental threats of the next few decades.

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ES 310: Human Impacts on Modern Day Environments

This course examines the accelerating land use changes that humans are creating upon modern-day environments, their effect upon society, and how remote sensing and social science can monitor these changes. Recent technological advancements make it possible to sustain larger and larger populations by exploiting more and more natural resources. These land cover/ land use changes can be monitored both from space and on the ground. Topics that will be investigated at the regional and global level include the effects of deforestation, urban land-use issues, famine early warning, public health, and political instability. Through the combination of remote sensing and social science we currently have the ability to monitor human activity upon the planet better than ever before. The key question is whether decision-makers will use this information for current and future societal benefit.


ES 410: Major Environmental Threats of the 21st Century

Researchers, policymakers and environmental campaigners have identified 25 potential future threats to the global environment. Some of these threats include climate, energy, water, food, environment, poverty, terrorism, disease, education, democracy, and population. This course examines the nature and consequences of these threats and their potential impacts for the survival of the human race. More importantly, potential solutions to these threats are examined that will prevent the predicted disasters.

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