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GEOS 489/689; AGEC 489/689


Course Syllabus – Spring 2016

Class Time:  M 3:00 – 3:50, Location AGLS 115

Course Description

This is a 1-hour course. Global Climate Change findings and issues, including (i) the physical science aspects, (ii) impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, (iii) mitigation options, and (iv) understanding and addressing the challenges of climate change communication.  This survey course is designed and intended for students from all majors and it will be taught by faculty members from three colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences; Architecture; and Geosciences.

Course is open to Galveston and other satellite campus students via video link.


Advanced undergraduate standing (junior or senior classification), graduate student standing, or approval of instructor.

Learning Outcomes

Climate change will influence your future, and you will likely have to take climate change into consideration in your future profession, whether it is business, resource management, engineering, regional planning, architecture and construction, agriculture, health care, education, or local to global policy making. Societal decisions regarding our energy future will have to be made, and you will gain an improved understanding so you can participate in the debate over strategies for mitigating or adapting to climate change. Employers will be looking for people with the knowledge to make responsible, information-based decisions. Through this seminar course, you will gain the necessary background to

  • Access current projections for global climate change and knowledge of the causes of the change,

  • Appraise mitigation options as they affect energy production and environmental quality,

  • Assess the vulnerability of entities to climate change and help formulate adaptation options, and

  • Communicate on the topic to stakeholders regarding effects and possible policies that address or involve climate change.

Students will attain a professional and personal advantage from having such knowledge and gain experience useful to your future employment and participation in societal decision making.

Instructor Background

Texas A&M University has faculty members who are among the world’s experts in climate science and change, societal and human dimensions of climate change, mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and communicating climate change to the public. They are contributing authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. National Climate Assessment reports, other regional and national climate change reports, and hundreds of scientific and scholarly journal articles. Students have a unique opportunity to learn from these individuals and to be better prepared to understand and navigate this important global issue.

Instructor Information

Gunnar W. Schade, Department of Atmospheric Sciences
(979) 845-0633
O&M 1012A

Liliana Beltran, Department of Architecture
(979) 845-6545
Langford A 444

Samuel Brody, Dept. of Marine Sciences, Ocean and Coastal Studies
(409) 740-4939
Ocean and Coastal Studies Bldg. 366

Bruce McCarl, Department of Agricultural Economics
(979) 845-1706

David Briske and Georgianne Moore, Dept. of Ecosystem Science and Management
(979) 845-5581, (979) 845-3765 ,
Centeq Building 130C, Horticulture and Forest Science Building 316

Stuart Carlton, Sea Grant Administration And Program
(409) 740-4983
Ocean and Coastal Studies Building 340H

Textbook and/or Resource Material

The course will be based on national and international climate appraisals and the scientific literature. Fundamental resources will include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2013 and 2014 reports (available online at http://www.ipcc), the U.S. National Climate Assessment (available online at, and additional readings to be made available online.

Summaries of all materials presented in class will be posted on line prior to class in which they are presented and discussed. Our prime class communication tool will be an course page that will be populated throughout the semester. It will contain all presentation materials, assigned readings, a dynamic list of short project topics to choose from depending on your major or personal interests, and discussion sessions with the instructors of this class and their special fields. It will thus provide for student-instructor, and student-student communication, including topical discussions on relevant news items.

Group Project

Group projects will be carried out summarizing an area of concern. Graduate student group project(s) will also include a component focused on organizing, communicating, and interpreting the science of climate change to a select peer audience.

Grading Policies

Your letter grade will be composed of four sub-grades: 

  • weekly clicker questions in class to assess your class presence and whether you come prepared to the class sessions (split 50:50 into presence and correct answers, meaning 20% of your grade is awarded for being present and another 20% for answering questions correctly through coming to class prepared)


  • short online quizzes about  class topics


  • a short group project, summarizing a select aspect of the climate issue


  • class participation in discussion groups online, and in class depending on class size


Additionally up to 5 bonus points will be awarded for outstanding achievement.

Graduate and undergraduate students will be graded independently.

Grading (percentage) Scale: 100-90: A; 89-80: B; 79-66: C; 65-55: D; less than 55: F

Additional Requirements of Graduate Students: Graduate student work will be assessed differently from undergraduate students as follows:

  1. Graduate students will be given more time and additional questions on quizzes

  2. Graduate students are expected to provide more depth in their group projects, and an extended grading rubric for graduate students will be used for evaluation. In addition, graduate students will be assigned to peer-review undergraduate student projects and give a short presentation of their group project

  3. Participating graduate students are encouraged to take a leading role in online discussions, and to organize outreach activities, such as movie presentations to peer groups with post-movie discussions

  4. The grade computation for graduate students will use the percentage allocation specified above.

Course Topics, Calendar of Activities, Major Assignment Dates

Week 1

Topic: Why and how is Earth’s climate changing? (Schade)

Required Reading / Watching: “The greenhouse effect” 

Week 2

Topic: Consequences of Climate Change (Schade)

Required Reading / Watching: IPCC WG1, SPM

Week 3

Topic: Future climate, global and regional changes (Schade)

Required Reading / Watching: IPCC WG1, SPM; NCA-3 overview

Week 4

Topic: Climate myths vs. science

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 5

Topic: Climate change effects in Texas and society plus broad policy approaches to address it (McCarl)

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 6

Topic: Directions for and potential analysis of climate change adaptation in multiple sectors (McCarl)

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 7

Topic: Directions for and potential analysis of climate change mitigation in multiple sectors (McCarl)

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 8

Topic: Climate change implications for land use, urban regions, and sustainability (Brody)

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 9

Topic: Climate change implications for ecosystem structure and function (Briske, Moore)

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 10

Topic: Green design and construction: Case studies in mitigation and adaptation (Beltran), short project draft due

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 11

Topic: Communication and the climate change controversy (Carlton)

Required Reading / Watching: Six Americas study

Week 12

Topic: Addressing climate change misinformation (Carlton, Schade)

Required Reading / Watching: TBD

Week 13

Topic: Group project presentations and write-up due

Week 14

Topic: Wrap-up and Synthesis. Movie Party

Other Pertinent Course Information

E-campus: The course is organized around an ecampus webpage that contains all course materials. Your quizzes will be administered online through the webpage, and your written part of the group project will be submitted through the webpage as well.

Attendance: It is expected not only that you attend class, but that you come prepared via completing the pre-class assignments as posted weekly on the ecampus page. For rules concerning absences please refer to

Clickers: Weekly attendance and question response will be recorded via the use of clickers, a student response system to evaluate course engagement and knowledge retention. Everything you need to know can be found here:, and your personal clicker, should you not have purchased one already, can be acquired from the A&M bookstore on campus. Note that clickers can be shared between students unless you are taking the same course.

Make-Up Policy: Makeup quizzes and presentation will be given or need to be done within one week of the original quiz or presentation dates, but only for those who have university-excused absences and receive prior approval from the instructor.  Missing clicker scores will be set to the individual student average for any university excused absences.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, in Cain Hall, Room B118, or call 845-1637.  For additional information visit

Academic Integrity

For additional information please visit: 

“An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do.”

According to the Texas A&M University Definitions of Academic Misconduct, plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit ( You should credit your use of anyone else’s words, graphic images, or ideas using standard citation styles in all of your assignments. If I should discover that you have failed to properly credit sources or have used a paper, or parts of a paper written by someone else, you will receive an F for that assignment and will be assigned a remediation course through the Aggie Honor System Office. Its processes for adjudication and appeals can be found at, and for additional information please visit Note that faculty are obliged to report any academic dishonesty issues that arise to the Aggie Honor System Office even if the case is resolved between the faculty member and the student. That will be considered the student's first offense. A second offense will lead to more severe consequences, including dismissal from the university.

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