After taking this course students will never look at the Earth the same!  

This course relates the physical processes operating on and the materials that comprise our planet to individuals and society as whole. Students will learn about how the Earth evolved from primordial dust to form the compositionally zoned planet upon which life now exists.

Students will learn about the unifying concept of plate tectonics, which will provide them with a framework to understand the why and where of earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain belts, ocean basins and rock types in their surrounding world.

Students will become amateur geologists and drive their friends and families crazy with their new-found knowledge. Students will also learn about time and its importance to the geologic record.

Students will learn that geologists pay more for their dates than Hollywood’s most elite stars! This course will provide students with important information about geologic hazards, which will perhaps one day save lives or personal property. If students love the outdoors, this course will give them many opportunities to visit spectacular geologic sites around Washington state through the ESS 101 optional weekend field trip program.

General Method of Instruction

Although the lecture of portion of this course is taught in a large lecture hall, I try to engage all my students in small group discussions and interactive teaching techniques. I provide weekly tutorial sessions outside of the lecture hall where students can receive enrichment or extra help with the course material.

I believe that my enthusiasm for my subject matter is as important as the subject matter itself in facilitating student learning. I try to create a learning environment in my classroom that enables all students the opportunity to achieve success if they are willing to put forth the effort.

I have an open-door policy and an approachability that I believe promotes advanced discussion and interactions between myself and my students. I have also learned over the many years of teaching at the University of Washington that my students should play an important role in determining the content of my classes. Consequently, I will ask my students to provide me feedback at the beginning of the quarter to help me determine what they deem is important to learn in this exciting field of geology.

Laboratory consist of hands-on exercises where students learn to apply their knowledge in a cooperative group setting. Students will also be given the opportunity to form laboratory discussion groups to enrich their understanding and discuss differences of opinion regarding relevant geologic issues. During the summer quarter laboratory is conducted outside to enjoy the warm summer days in the Pacific Northwest.

A series of 7 to 9 optional field trips provides students with the unique opportunity to experientially learn about geology in nature’s back yard. The optional field trip opportunities that this class provides are unparalleled at this University. Students are given the opportunity to visit such locations as: Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier glaciers, the Olympic Mountains, the North Cascades, San Juan Islands, Seattle-Bainbridge Fault, Whidbey Island, fossil beds of the Chuckanut Formation, Gingko Petrified Forest and the coulees of the Columbia Plateau. There will also be two self-guided field trips observing weathering properties of tombstones at a local cemetery and building stones used on the UW campus.  We will have three “movie nights” where students can watch some fun geology-themed movies with their professor. Field trips and movies are optional and will count as extra credit towards the final grade.

Recommended Preparation for Success in this Course

This course is intended for non-major students who have little math or physical science background. No pre-requisites are necessary to take this class. Please come with an open-mind and inquisitiveness about your natural world. The material discussed this course will engage all students, regardless of their respective academic backgrounds.

General Nature of the Assignments

Lecture and laboratory assignments will be completed during class time. There will be reading assignments associated with the lecture portion of the course. Laboratory assignments will be completed in the laboratory manual. Students will also be given an opportunity to debate an issue of geological significance. Extra credit field trip assignments are completed during each respective field trip.