Core Courses - Beginning Fall 2023
Every student in the Climate and Society program follows a sequence of study that includes six core courses and a capstone workshop or an internship of the student’s choice. These core courses are designed to give our students a common set of skills and a shared professional working knowledge of climate dynamics on regional and global scales, statistical evaluation, risk management, communication, justice and applied research.
For details on the Core Courses through Summer 2023, please click here.
Core Course Details
This course provides a physical understanding of Earth’s climate system, building on basic physics and connecting to notable climate events that impact society.
Credit Hours: 3
This course provides an understanding of the physical workings of the climate system, and it underpins the goals of the rest of the program. Building on that, students learn through lectures, readings, discussions and exercises, how to interpret climate information like forecasts and observational maps. We will cover the physical and methodological basis of forecasts – from weather to climate change – as well as their uncertainties. Students are encouraged to critically assess the suitability of different types of climate information to answer questions of societal interest in discussion and within a group project. Given that climate variability acts on a number of time and space scales, which may be further influenced by man-made climate change, we will also address how these aspects of the climate are realized, forecast, interpreted. Solid understanding of the physical system and appropriate usage of climate-related terminology will be emphasized throughout the course.
- Physical understanding of the climate system
- Forecast interpretation
- Climate literacy
- Initial basis to determine suitability of information to society
- Communication of scientific material
The purpose of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to become familiar with the technical and behavioral options for reducing and/or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, including their potential impacts, tradeoffs, risks, and opportunities.
Credit Hours: 3
This survey course provides an overview of the tools (technologies, policies, etc.) that can be used to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This course will utilize scenario planning frameworks to explore pathways to economy-wide decarbonization. In this work, the course will explore not only the technical options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also the policy responses, market-structures, and behavioral change that can support progress to net-zero. The course will also utilize a series of case studies of decarbonization pathways for different geographies in low- middle- and high-income countries to provide insights on mitigation strategies, including risks and opportunities. This course is intentionally multidisciplinary, weaving together STEM, policy, and other social sciences. It will be primarily focused on applications of mitigation solutions and will highlight both what net-zero “end states” may look like and the transition pathways to achieve these end states.
- Gain a high-level understanding of the broader system that mitigation options operate within as well as the connections between sub-sectors of the economy (e.g., energy systems impact on food, industry, and vice versa)
- Explore the policy and market conditions that can support or hinder mitigation strategies.
- Practice communicating key insights in formats that are accessible to decision-makers (e.g., policymakers)
- Identify potential climate change mitigation strategies and articulate the necessary conditions for their successful implementation at a high level using case studies.
Utilizing a case-study approach, this course will offer a focused study of climate change adaptation policy, exploring dimensions of adaption across sectors and scales. With a thematic focus on pervasive global inequities, students will also consider challenges associated with international development and disaster risk management. An inter-disciplinary framework will enrich the course, and students will learn about perspectives from the natural sciences, law, architecture, anthropology, humanitarian aid, and public policy.
Credit Hours: 3
- Students will gain an understanding of the policy context surrounding efforts to adapt to a changing climate, including attention to hazard, exposure, and vulnerability for risk reduction.
- Students will develop nuanced approaches for assessing the components of governance toward climate change adaptation, identifying success stories and persistent challenges in the way countries, cities, and individuals are working to build adaptive capacity.
This course provides the fundamentals needed for analyzing climate datasets and the basics of decision making under uncertain climate conditions.
Credit Hours: 4
This course provides students with quantitative skills in climate data analysis, understanding statistical methods of making climate forecasts, as well as using climate information for quantitative decision making under uncertainty. Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to develop hands-on experience of working with climate datasets and interpreting their findings, as well as applying methods to deal with climate uncertainty through weekly lab sessions. Students further develop their real world problem solving skills by designing a group project on decision making for a chosen climate-sensitive system, such as agricultural planning, public health, energy and water management, to explore how to integrate climate science and its societal impacts for real world applications.
- Statistical methods
- Climate data analysis
- Decision making under uncertainty
- Group project and presentations
This course is an interactive seminar focused on providing opportunities to explore ways in which the Climate and Society degree can be applied.
Credit Hours: 3
The objective of this seminar is to explore how to integrate climate science, social science, policy studies and communication to improve the development of practical solutions for real-world challenges. Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to interact with professionals representing a diverse mix of organizations working on integrating climate within their operations. The exposure to a variety of career paths will be coupled with activities to build and improve students’ career advancement skill set. The course will build towards the development of a strategy for the next steps of the C+S degree and prepare students for the summer internship period.
- Climate communication
- Writing for diverse audiences
- Collaborating with professional partners
- Linking research with policy
This course is designed to present questions and concepts to contribute to the preparation for internships and ultimately careers at the boundary between science and society.
Credit Hours: 6
The purpose of this course is to present questions and concepts that can help contribute to students' varied preparation for internships and ultimately careers at the boundary between science and society. It explores some of the challenges of working in this space. It also considers how different ways of structuring the relationship between science and society shape the science that is produced and how it is ultimately used. To help students reflect on their own experience, it asks students to consider the roles we, as researchers professionals, play in these different structures, and the skills or knowledge might help us to play these roles more effectively. The course also considers how we can draw and build on the skills and concepts we have learned over the past year to address these challenges and to make progress toward our personal and professional goals.
- Experience in the operations and development of climate-facing organizations
- Effective interdisciplinary communication and collaboration
- Identifying personal strengths and weaknesses
- Goal setting
This workshop course provides students with hands-on experience applying and integrating elements of the Climate and Society program to address the needs and requests of a client organization.
Credit Hours: 6
In this course, students will learn how others manage programs and conduct analyses; they will apply what they have learned in the fall and spring semesters to work with real-world clients. Students will serve on teams and undertake a special analytic project; they will serve as consultants for their client organizations, and, therefore, increase their understanding of the constraints under which organizations in the climate and society space operate. The capstone workshop also serves the purpose of sharpening the students’ analytical and communication skills by allowing them to apply their previous experience and knowledge gained from the program to an actual problem or organizational need.
- Creating and executing work plans
- Preparing curricular and training materials
- Data analysis
- Co-production of knowledge in the climate and society field