EES 0837 – Evolution and Extinctions
The Earth is our home, but few of us stop to consider in detail how it works and changes. Although popularly applied mostly to biological systems, the word evolution simply means “change through time”. This course intends to foster understanding of the Earth as an evolving and changing interconnected system across the vast expanse of 4.5 billion years of geologic history. Where did we come from? How did we get where we are now? What can we expect in the future? Through hands-on experience with fossils and rocks, students discover how to decode information about past Earth environments and ecosystems and the implications of this knowledge for understanding current and future global issues. Special focus is given to major interactions between the living and non-living parts of the Earth system, including major mass extinction events, many of which have been linked to climate shifts with disastrous consequences for living organisms. Assignments at the Wagner Free Institute of Science also introduce students to scientific resources in the Philadelphia area.