460:215 Environmental Disasters

Instructor: Kustka
Terms Taught: Fall
Credits: 3

Course Description
“Environmental Disasters” has an ominous name, and might conjure up images of exploding nuclear reactors, wrecked oil tankers, and massive fish kills.  While these “acute” environmental disasters will be discussed throughout the course, much attention will also be given towards disasters that are less obvious, yet significant, in day-to-day life.  Throughout the course, we return to two central points in order to put these disasters in perspective.  First, environmental disasters are not just a consequence of the so-called “Industrial Revolution” since the late 18th century, (although the scale of many of these has increased dramatically).  Second, we will often address whether these disasters could have been or could be avoided, how they could be avoided, as well as the physical, chemical, geological and social factors that thwart or promote this avoidance. There are modern-day success stories, in our backyard here in NJ and around the world.  Thus, we can learn from disasters that have come to full fruition during our lifetimes, over the last several hundred years, and from ancient times as well as from would-be disasters that have been averted or minimized. 
Prerequisite: none

Learning Objectives
• Achieve an introductory level of environmental literacy.
• Understand the scientific method and how it is applied towards better understanding environmental issues.
• Achieve the ability to interpret scientific data - pertaining to environmental issues – presented in graphical form.
• Understand the interaction between environmental science and non-science aspects that influence environmental decision making.