Fall 2020

Climate Change: Science and Rhetoric

Listed in: Geology, as GEOL-109

Formerly listed as: GEOL-09

Moodle site: Course


Nicholas D. Holschuh (Section 01)


Humankind is a major agent of environmental change. With each new hurricane, wildfire, and heat wave, public conversations turn to the topic of anthropogenic climate change. But it can be difficult to separate what we know with confidence from what we think we know, and what we are unsure of, given the complex information landscape that defines our moment in time. This leaves many people asking "Is climate change happening? Is it us? Where are we headed? How fast? How do we know?" In this class, we will address these questions directly with a focus on building an interdisciplinary understanding of Earth's climate system. In addition, we will discuss the disparate impacts of climate change on communities around the world, how climate information gets shared between scientists and citizens, and the challenges of building consensus on climate issues.

The internet presents a double-edged sword for climate communication - it is our primary tool for sharing the data and models used to understand Earth's climate, but can be a platform for misinformation and mischaracterization of science for political ends. As an online course for Fall 2020, we will explore this dichotomy in detail, through both the direct download and interpretation of climate data and an evaluation of the way climate change is discussed in the public forum. We will meet three times a week with asynchronous lecture, synchronous small group discussion, and an end goal of producing digital media to share our collective understanding of climate with a broader audience.

Three class meetings per week. This course is open to all students of the College. Limited to 48 students. Fall Semester. Assistant Professor Holschuh. 

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to first years and seniors


Online Only, Science & Math for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2020, Fall 2021