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Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Courses listed as prerequisites serve to indicate the degree of proficiency that is expected. They need not have been taken at Johns Hopkins.

Not all courses are offered every year. Contact the course instructor or Director of Undergraduate Studies (Naomi Levin, for information about the next semester in which the course will be offered.

270.102 (N) Freshman Seminar: Conversation with the Earth
A discussion of current topics on Earth’s origin, evolution, and habitability. Topics will include extinction of life from meteorite impact, global warming, ozone depletion, volcanism, ice ages, and catastrophic floods, among others.
Section 1 (270.102-01) is for 2 credits for normal participation.
Section 2 (270.102-02) is for 3 credits and has the requirement of a term paper.
Marsh, and other faculty

270.103 (N) Introduction to Global Environmental Change
The structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth and how we learn about them. Sea floor spreading, continental drift, mountain building, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other internal processes. Surface processes including weathering, erosion, sedimentation, and the record of climate change. No prerequisites.
Waugh, Passey 3 credits

270.104 (N) History of the Earth and Its Biota
The history of the earth and life as understood through the geologic record. The evolution and extinction of major life forms will be examined from the perspective of interactions among the solid earth, ocean, atmosphere,and biosphere.
Hinnov 3 credits

270.106 Freshman Seminar: Special Topics
Focused study of an important problem in the Earth sciences. Topics vary, but emphasis is given toward examination of journal readings via class discussions.
Staff 1 credit

271.107 (N) Introduction to Sustainability
Will introduce interactions between global environment and humans, discuss meaning of sustainability, and introduce use of tools to attain sustainability such as policy, law, communication, marketing, research, advocacy, and international treaties.
Parker 3 credits

270.110 (N) Freshman Seminar: Sustainable and Non-Sustainable Resources
An introduction to the important resources involved in the origin and production of oil, natural gas, coal, cement, metals and geothermal fluids.
Sverjensky 1 credit

270.113 (N) Freshman Seminar: Environmental Poisons
An exploration of the occurrence and potential effects of poisons in the environment, from naturally occurring ones such as arsenic to those that may be introduced by mankind such as nuclear waste.
Sverjensky 1 credit

270.114 (N) A Guided Tour of the Planets
An introduction to planetary science and planetary exploration primarily for nonscience majors. A survey of concepts from astronomy, chemistry, geology, and physics applied to the study of the solar system. No prerequisites.
Marsh, Strobel 3 credits

271.115 Environmental Photojournalism and Filmmaking in the Era of New Media
Students will review critical literature focusing on new media, visual representation theory, the relationship between images and social change, the history and typology of environmental photography and film, and an overview of modern environmental history, sustainability issues and environmental problems. Over the course of the semester, students will blend these conceptual frameworks with new media production. Based in Baltimore, students will identify an environmental narrative, document their particular story through photography or film, develop a new media platform through which to communicate the narrative effectively, and write a final paper analyzing their images, narrative and communication strategies using the theoretical frameworks covered throughout the course. The course is designed with an emphasis on independent research and practice, interdisciplinary analysis and application. One hour class time, plus two hours per week of independent field work and media production (times to TBD by student groups)
Monopolis 3 credits

270.201 Dinosaurs
This course covers all the major groups of dinosaurs, from Triceratops to T. Rex and its relatives living today, birds. It will also cover the origins of the group, their near demise 65 million years ago, their behavior, growth and development, and a history of their study.
Weishampel 3 credits

270.205 (N) Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Geospatial Analysis
This course provides a broad introduction to the principles and practice of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and related tools of Geospatial Analysis. Topics will include history of GIS, GIS data structures, data acquisition and merging, database management, spatial analysis, and GIS applications. In addition, students will get hands-on experience working with GIS software.
Staff 3 credits

270.210 (N) Environmental Field Methods
This course is designed to introduce students to field based environmental research with a focus on the ecology and geochemistry of the surface and sub-surface environment. Field activities will center around soils and the carbon cycle in the riparian ecosystem adjacent to the Homewood campus and on the urban ecology of the greater Baltimore region. Students will build skills in data collection, analysis and synthesis. Outdoor fieldwork is an essential part of the course.
Prerequisites: 270.103 or 270.220.
Levin, Szlavecz 3 credits

270.220 (N) The Dynamic Earth: An Introduction to Geology
An introduction to the basic concepts of geology. Topics include Earth’s internal structure; plate tectonics; geologic time; minerals and rocks; erosion and deposition by oceans, rivers, wind, and glaciers; sedimentary environments; volcanism and plutonism; metamorphism; faults and folds; earthquakes and seismology; geomagnetism.
Pre- or corequisites: 030.101 or 171.101-102; 270.221 is co-requisite for Earth and Planetary Science majors, optional for others.
Veblen, Ferry 3 credits 3 hours lecture

270.221 (N) The Dynamic Earth Laboratory
Laboratory exercises to illustrate the concepts developed in 270.220.Corequisite: 270.220.
Olsen 2 credits 2 hours lab

270.222 (N) Earth Materials
An introduction to the properties, occurrence, and origin of the basic constituents of the Earth, including minerals and rocks. Introductory training in the recognition of minerals and rocks, in the laboratory and the field.
Veblen, Ferry 4 credits 3 hours lecture, 3 hours lab

270.224 (N) Oceans and Atmospheres
A broad survey of the oceans and atmospheres, and their role in the environment and climate. Subjects include ocean circulation, weather systems, hurricanes and tornadoes, El Nino, climate change, ozone depletion, and marine ecosystems.
Pre- or corequisites: 030.101 or 171.101-102; 270.221 is corequisite for Earth and Planetary Science majors, optional for others.
Staff 3 credits

270.302 (N) Aqueous Geochemistry
Thermodynamic basis for calculation of equilibria involving minerals and aqueous species at both low and high temperatures and pressures. Theoretical calculation of surface geochemical processes including adsorption and dissolution kinetics.
Prerequisite: 270.369.
Sverjensky 4.5 credits 3 hours lecture, 2 hours lab

270.305 (N) Energy Resources in the Modern World
This in-depth survey will inform students on the nonrenewable and renewable energy resources of the world and the future prospects. Topics include petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind, biomass, and ocean energy. Global production, distribution, usage, and impacts of these resources will be discussed.
Hinnov 3 credits

270.307 (N,Q) Geoscience Modeling
An introduction to modern ways to interpret observations in the context of a conceptual model. Topics include model building, hypothesis testing, and inverse methods. Practical examples from geophysics, engineering, and medical physics will be featured.
Haine 4 credits

270.308 (N) Population and Community Ecology
This course explores the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions. Topics include dynamics and regulation of populations, population interactions (competition, predation, mutualism, parasitism, herbivory), biodiversity, organization of equilibrium and nonequilibrium communities, energy flow and nutrient cycles in ecosystems. Field trip included.
Prerequisite: 270.103 or permission of instructor.
Szlavecz 3 credits

271.309 (N) Designing Sustainable Wellness
Limited to juniors, seniors and graduate students. Otherwise permission of instructor. This project-based course will explore and re-imagine interdisciplinary conceptual frameworks aimed at promoting “sustainable wellness” (the convergence of social and ecological sustainability) within the built environment (the space, structures and systems humans generate for living, working and playing). Beginning with a conceptual overview of sustainability, the science of happiness, and design/planning principles, students will review relevant case studies and complete a final, hands-on, community-based studio project.
Monopolis 3 credits

270.311 (N) Geobiology
A survey of the interactions between geological and biological processes at and near the Earth’s surface, covering topics such as biogeochemistry and nutrient cycles, soil chemistry, biomarkers, archives of paleobiology, and the evolution of life, with an emphasis on terrestrial systems.
Levin 3 credits

270.312 (N) Mammalian Evolution
An introduction to the evolutionary history and diversity of mammals, with emphasis on the first half of the Cenozoic – the beginning of the Age of Mammals. The course will focus primarily on the adaptive radiation of mammals (including our own order primates) that followed the extinction of the dinosaurs, exploring the origins and relationships of the major groups of mammals as well as the anatomical and ecological reasons for their success. Lectures will be supplemented with relevant fossil and recent specimens. Some organismal biology desirable.
Rose 3 credits

270.313 (N) Isotope Geochemistry
Principles of equilibrium and kinetic isotope fractionation in fluid, solid and heterogeneous systems. Stable isotopes in the biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. Reconstruction of past climatic and ecological settings. Stable isotopes in igneous and metamorphic systems. Introduction to radiogenic isotopes, geochronology, thermochronology, cosmogenic istotopes and “clumped” isotopes.
Passey 3 credits

270.314 (N) Planetary Tectonics and Geodynamics
Fundamental physical processes relevant to interiors of terrestrial planets and icy satellites. Topics include: stress and strain; elasticity and flexure; rheology; internal structure; thermal evolution; fluid mechanics; tectonics; and faulting.
Prerequisites: 110.108-109 (or equivalent); 171.101 or 171.105 (or equivalent); Recommended: 110.202 (or equivalent).
Barnouin, Roberts 3 credits

270.315 (N) Natural Catastrophes
A survey of naturally occurring catastrophic phenomena, with emphasis on the underlying physical processes. Topics include hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions and climate change. Intended for students in science and engineering.
Olson 3 credits

270.318/618 (N) Remote Sensing of the Environment
This course is an introduction to the use of remote sensing technology to study Earth’s physical and biochemical processes. Topics covered include remote sensing of the atmosphere, land and oceans, as well as remote sensing as a tool for policy makers.
Del Castillo, Zaitchik 3 credits

271.322 (N) GECS Fieldwork in Ecuador
Course will provide theory and hands-on practice of environmental science and social science fieldwork.
Parker 4 credits

270.323 (N) Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
This course will examine the cycling of trace chemicals in the ocean, consider what we can learn from the distributions of these chemicals about the ocean circulation, and ocean ecosystems. Topics covered will include oceanic biological productivity, open water cycling of nutrients and oxygen, ocean acidification and sediment cycling.
Prerequisites: Calculus I and II.
Gnanadesikan 3 credits

270.325 Introductory Oceanography
This class is an introduction to a wide range of physical, chemical, and biological phenomena in the world’s oceans. Underlying basic principles are exposed wherever possible. Topics covered include seawater, waves, tides, ocean circulation, chemical oceanography, biogeochemical ocean processes, and remote sensing of the oceans.
Gnanadesikan and/or Haine 3 credits

270.332/607 (N) Soil Ecology
This course introduces basic aspects of cycles and flows in the soil ecosystem, and provides students with an overview of the higher groups of soil organisms, focusing on their identification characters and ecological roles. The course is intended for upper-level undergraduates or graduate students who are interested in soils and soil ecology. The course provides basic laboratory and field surveying skills in the discipline. Laboratory and field surveying methods are also covered.
Prerequisites: Population and Community Ecology, Geobiology, or instructor’s permission.
Szlavecz 3 credits

270.335 (N) Planets, Life, and the Universe
This multidisciplinary course explores the origins of life, planets’ formation, Earth’s evolution, extrasolar planets, habitable zones, life in extreme environments, the search for life in the Universe, space missions, and planetary protection.
DiRuggiero, Levin, Norman 3 credits

270.341 (N) Crystallography and the Structure of Inorganic Solids
An introduction to the principles of crystallography, diffraction, and the structures of inorganic crystals. Materials covered include important rock-forming minerals, metals, alloys, semiconductors, superconductors, ceramics, catalysts, and other technologically important materials.
Corequisite: 270.343. Prerequisite for Earth & Planetary Science majors: 270.342.
Veblen 3 credits 3 hours lecture

270.342 (N) Mineralogy Laboratory
Exercises in the chemistry and identification of minerals in hand specimen. This laboratory is designed for undergraduate majors in the Earth sciences.
Corequisite: 270.341.
Veblen 1 credit 2 hours lab

270.343 (N) Crystallography Laboratory
Exercises in crystallography, crystal chemistry, and X-ray diffraction. Extensive use is made of crystal structure models. This laboratory is designed for students already familiar with minerals in hand specimen or not majoring in Earth sciences.
Corequisite: 270.341.
Veblen 1 credit 2 hours lab

270.350 (N) Sedimentary Geology
Introduction to sedimentary processes and sedimentary rocks. Focus is placed on linking physical observations to earth surface processes. Fundamental tools for interpreting the sedimentary rock record, such as depositional models, geochronology, and chemostratigraphy are reviewed. Weekend field trips. Graduate and advanced undergraduate level.
Prerequisites: Dynamic Earth or consent of instructor.
Levin 4 credits (combined lecture and lab)

270.355 Introductory Atmospheric Science
An introduction to all aspects of atmospheric science. The course will include discussions of observations together with theories and simple models of the key dynamical, radiative, and chemical processes. Topics covered include global atmospheric circulation, air pollution, and climate change. This course is especially for third- and fourth year undergraduates and graduate students in science and engineering.
Prerequisites: 030.101, 110.108-109, 171.101-102.
Waugh 3 credits

271.360 (N) Climate Change: Science and Policy
This course will investigate the policy and scientific debate over global warming. It will review the current state of scientific knowledge about climate change, examine the potential impacts and implications of climate change, explore our options for responding to climate change, and discuss the present political debate over global warming.
Waugh/Zaitchik 3 credits

270.369 (N) Geochemistry of the Earth & Environment
An introduction to all aspects of geochemistry: theoretical, experimental, and observational, including the application of geochemistry to issues such as the migration of toxic metals and nuclear waste.
Sverjensky 3 credits 1 hour lab

270.377 (N) Climates of the Past
Earth’s climate history through study of forcing mechanisms, climate proxies, and paleoclimate modeling. Presentation of climate-sensitive archives will be followed by discussion of geochemical principles, climates through time, recent advances and emerging problems. For upperlevel undergraduate and graduate students in the natural sciences.
Prerequisite: 270.220 or instructors’ permission.
Hinnov, Passey 3 credits

270.378/640 (N) Present and Future Climate
Intended for majors who are interested in the science that underlies the current debate on global warming. The focus is on recent observations, and one can glean from model simulations.
Prerequisites: Calculus I and II (110.108-109) and General Physics (171.101-102).
Waugh, Zaitchik 3 credits

270.395 (N) Planetary Physics and Chemistry
The fundamental principles governing the dynamic processes within and around the planets are treated in some detail. Core equations are developed and used to analyze nebula condensation, planetary accretion, convection in mantles and atmospheres, radiative and conductive heat transport, seismic waves, hurricanes, volcanism, and meteorite impacts, among others. Emphasis is on fundamentals and problem solving.
Prerequisites: Calculus II, 030.101, 171.101-102 or 103-104 or 105-106.
Marsh, Strobel 3 credits

270.400 Intersession Independent Study
An independent course of study may be pursued under the direction of an advisor on those topics not specifically listed in the form of regular courses.

271.403 Environmental Policymaking and Policy Analysis
This course provides students with a broad introduction to US environmental policymaking and policy analysis. Included are a historical perspective as well as an analysis of future policymaking strategies. Students examine the political and legal framework, become familiar with precedent-setting statutes such as NEPA, RCRA, and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and study models for environmental policy analysis. Cost benefit studies, the limits of science in policymaking, and the impact of environmental policies on society are important aspects of this course. A comparison of national and international policymaking is designed to provide students with the proper perspective.
Bausch, Solomon 3 credits

270.405 (N) Modeling the Hydrological Cycle
Survey of modeling techniques for hydrological monitoring, analysis and prediction, including applied exercises with commonly used models. Topics include the terrestrial water balance, rivers and floods, groundwater, atmospheric transport, and precipitation processes. Focus is on numerical methods applicable at the large watershed to global scale.
Zaitchik 3 credits

270.407 (N) Seminar in Planetary Sciences
Staff 1 credit

270.410 (N) Planetary Surface Processes
This course explores four primary processes that influence the evolution of planetary surfaces: impact cratering, tectonics, volcanism, and weathering. These processes manifest themselves as structural deformation of planetary crusts due to loading by volcanoes, formation of craters by asteroid impacts, creation of wind sculpted yardangs, and modification of surfaces by flowing landslides, river and glaciers. Emphasis is on the relationship to similar Earth processes, and the integrated geologic histories of the terrestrial planets, satellites, and asteroids. The physics associated with these processes will be introduced and reviewed using both laboratory and theoretical approaches. This is necessary to understand the surface characteristics and evolution of planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets from qualitative assessments and quantitative measurements obtained from spacecraft data. A key component of the class will be the interpretation of these observations from recent and current planetary missions, such as MESSENGER, Magellan, LRO, Haybusa, NEAR, MRO, Galileo, and Cassini.
Prerequisites: A sound knowledge of calculus ad introductory physics especially mechanics and some prior knowledge of Earth and/or planetary science.
Barnouin, Roberts 3 credits

270.422 (N) Geochemistry of Ore Deposits
This course explores the geologic processes and economic factors that result in the development of commercial concentrations of non-energy mineral resources.The course will discuss a broad spectrum of ore deposits, ranging from the formation of placer-type Au deposits at Rand, society’s largest source of Au, to the genetic link between subduction zone dehydration, porphyry-type Cu, Au, Mo, W, Bi, Sn deposits and shallow-level epithermal Au, Ag deposits. Emphasis will be placed on the physicochemical differences between deposit types and the geochemical causes of ore deposit diversity. The course will examine the relationship between element suites (e.g., Platinum group elements: copper, silver, gold), their position in the periodic table and the reasons they are found together in nature. Related topics to be discussed include importance of mineral resources to the global economy, mineral exploration and evaluation, and mineral extraction and processing. Reading material for the course will be selected from academic journals.
Staff 3 credits

270.425 (N) Earth and Planetary Fluids
Introductory course on the properties, flow, and transport characteristics of fluids throughout the Earth and planets. Topics covered include constitutive relationships, fluid rheology, hydrostatics, dimensional analysis, low Reynolds number flow, porous media, waves, stratified and rotating fluids, plus heat, mass and tracer transport. Illustrative examples and problems are drawn from the atmosphere, ocean, crust, mantle, and core of the Earth and other planets. Open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students.
Olson 3 credits

270.495-496 (N,W) Senior Thesis
Preparation of a substantial thesis based upon independent student research, supervised by at least one faculty member in Earth and Planetary Sciences. Open to senior departmental majors only. Required for departmental honors.
Staff 4 credits per semester

270.501-502 Independent Study
An independent course of study may be pursued under the direction of an advisor on those topics not specifically listed in the form of regular courses.

271.505 GECS Capstone Seminar
The GECS Senior Capstone Seminar will provide the intellectual time and space to bring together the knowledge and tools acquired during the four years of interdisciplinary work on the GECS curriculum into a coherent framework in preparation for careers, and/or graduate work. In addition to the culmination of the capstone project, final paper, and presentations, students will look at relevant current events through the lenses of science, social science and the humanities, and engage in in-depth readings and discussion of these issues.Only open to GECS seniors.
Parker 3 credits

270.507-508 Internship

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