man pointing to a computer monitor. Three people sitting at a table looking at him.

Photo credit:  Filip Linders, MSF/Doctors Without Borders/Swedish Innovation Unit (used with permission)

Course Description

Do you believe that we can be more creative in planning our communities and protecting environments for a sustainable future? Would you like to learn a method to make a difference? One that empowers stakeholders and reduces conflict? Geodesign delivers creative solutions for environmental, economic, and social issues. This method works collaboratively across disciplines, deploying innovative technology to dynamically illustrate the impacts of alternative design scenarios.

Course Description

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, "Some people are weatherwise, but most are otherwise." Ol' Ben understood that weather can have a great effect on our everyday lives, and he knew the importance of having an understanding of what makes the atmosphere work (and not just knowing when it's safe to fly a kite). In METEO 3, we will examine all aspects of the weather. You'll learn the fundamental processes that drive the atmosphere, along with some of the tools we use to measure those processes.

Coastal Processes, Hazards and Society

Credit: Wave 2444043 by TimHill is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Has your attention recently been caught by news of coastal catastrophes such as hurricanes and tsunamis? Do you wonder why so many coastal communities in the world are vulnerable to flooding and other coastal hazards? Have you considered what coastal flood protections cities like Houston and Miami will need in the future to protect their residents? This course will provide a better understanding of these phenomena.

two fingers touching behind a lightbulb

Credit: Home Energy by George Hodan is licensed under CC0 1.0

Course Description

Our world runs on energy - without it, things come to a screeching halt, as the recent hurricanes have shown. Ever stop to wonder what our energy future is? What are our options for energy, and what are the associated economic and climatic implications? In "Energy and the Environment" we explore these questions, which together represent one of the great challenges of our time - providing energy for high quality of life and economic growth while avoiding dangerous climate change.

Course Description

Increasingly volatile climate and weather; vulnerable drinking water supplies; shrinking wildlife habitats; widespread deforestation due to energy and food production. These are examples of environmental challenges that are of critical importance in our world, both in far away places and close to home, and are particularly well suited to inquiry using geographic information systems. In GEOG 487 you will explore topics like these and learn about data and spatial analysis techniques commonly employed in environmental applications.

Geology of the National Parks

Credit: Geyser With Green Field Background by Damon Holle is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Geysers and grizzlies and glaciers, oh my. The national parks may be America's best idea, saving the finest parts of the nation for everyone to enjoy forever. What better way to learn about the natural world than to tour the parks with us? We'll explore how the mountains and valleys formed and why they often come with volcanoes and earthquakes. You'll see what really killed the dinosaurs and how we can help save their modern relatives in the parks. With film clips, slide shows, and our geological interpretations of classic rock songs, isn't it time for a road trip?

Essentials of Oceanography

Credit: E. Rubio (c) Penn State University, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Course Description

The year is 2050 and your once-idyllic beachfront vacation home is now flooded up to the second story. The crab your family has enjoyed every Christmas for as long as you can remember has now become an endangered species. The oceans have changed. In EARTH 540, Oceanography for Educators, we explore the mechanisms that lead to sea level rise and ocean acidification. We strive to understand how natural processes such as ocean currents, the gulf-stream, tides, plate tectonics, and the Coriolis Effect, affect our oceans and ocean basins.

Earth Surface Processes in the Critical Zone

Credit: Blue and Gray Moon during Nighttime by Jaymantri is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Rapid changes at Earth's surface, largely in response to human activity, have led to the realization that fundamental questions remain to be answered regarding the natural functioning of the Critical Zone, the thin veneer at Earth's surface where the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere interact. EARTH 530 will introduce you to the basics necessary for understanding Earth surface processes in the Critical Zone through an integration of various scientific disciplines.

Controversies in the Earth Sciences

Course Description

Think science has all the answers? Think again. This course will use real, authentic data to explore and investigate modern controversies in Earth Sciences. Use tide gauge records to understand how countries around the world attempt to protect themselves from tsunami events. Process seismic data to predict earthquake recurrence in the New Madrid seismic zone, right here in the breadbasket of the US. Sort through the millions of years of the geologic timeline to shed some light on what actually did, and did not, kill the dinosaurs.

Course Description

EMSC 302 provides an orientation of the Energy and Sustainability Policy (ESP) degree program, preparing students for further study in the five program learning outcome areas: energy industry knowledge, global perspective, analytical skills, communication skills, and sustainability ethics. It also provides an introduction to the basic skills necessary to be successful in higher-ed online learning, including communication and library skills.

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Course Spotlight

pile of maps

Cartography and Visualization (GEOG 486) covers design principles and techniques for creating maps with contemporary mapping tools. Students will be introduced to future-focused application topics such as augmented and virtual reality, mapping with multivariate glyphs, the visual depiction of uncertainty, interactive geovisualization, and (geo)visual analytics, and decision-making with maps and mapping products. Visit the course.

Faculty Spotlight

Maria Wherley

Maria Scalzi Wherley (she, her) is a Learning Designer and Writer-in-Residence with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience. Learn more about Maria to see what she has to say about online education.