Natural Sciences and Global Challenges

Courses in the natural sciences that explore important global issues through the lens of a specific discipline in the natural sciences. Each course focuses on a particular issue/challenge and course content assists students in understanding key disciplinary knowledge and approaches that provide insight into the issue. Students explore ways to productively think about and address the issue.

These courses help students increase their understanding of complex global issues, develop knowledge of a natural science as it relates to global issues, explore approaches to and solutions for global issues, develop skills and confidence in applying knowledge to complex issues, and improve writing and research skills. Global Challenges courses include students from a variety of disciplines, promoting interdisciplinary conversation and understanding. This course requires a major paper or project, as well as some kind of reflective assignment where students are asked to synthesize their overall learning as it relates to the global issue being studied. Community-based learning and/or field or laboratory research is encouraged but not required.

Sample Sections

Pick Your Poison: Toxicology

Faculty: Kristen Skogerboe

Virtually any chemical, even water, can be considered a “poison” at the right dose. Correspondingly, mankind faces a significant challenge to understand toxicology and to take the necessary personal and governmental actions to ensure long term global survival. This course is focused on the global challenges created by poison exposure and is an exploration of the scientific principles and technical advances that are at the intersection of toxicology, medicine, environmental health, law, and ethics.

Arctic Environmental Change

Faculty: Lyn Gualtieri

In this course you will investigate the global implications of the changes in the Arctic’s physical environment. The course will address the global implications of the melting permafrost of the continental Arctic and the Arctic Ocean sea ice. There are ecological, environmental and political effects of an unfrozen Arctic. Although the Arctic is comprised of eight countries many more regions on the planet will be affected by the physical change to high latitude environments.

Cyber Security

Faculty: Eric Larson & James Obare

This course provides students a broad overview of cyber security and helps them gain a deep understanding of how cyber attaches have changed and would change civil liberties, laws, regulations, and international dialogues etc. Students will learn the nature of various types of cyber attacks and attackers that they might face in their everyday life, and explore basic security tools and techniques for defending themselves from cyber attacks.

The Big C: Cancer in the 21st Century

Faculty: Heather Brown

What is cancer, what causes it, and what can you do about it?  In this course, we will explore the basics of cancer biology, the link between genetics, environment, and cancer, and the many treatments for cancer.  Along the way, we will discuss issues surrounding environmental and social justice, and the impact of lifestyle on cancer risk.