EM SC 100S Section 004

The Science of Climate and the History of Climate Change

EM SC 100S: EMS First-year Seminar

Section 004: The Science of Climate and the History of Climate Change

Fall 2019

(Last Modified: September 4th, 2019)

Sukyoung Lee
Phone: 863-1587
Email: sxl31@psu.edu
Office: 519 Walker Building

Class: T Th, 10:35-11:50, Room 8 Deike

Office hours: T, Th 2:00-3:00; or by appointment

Description: For anyone who is tuned to the mainstream media, it is difficult to get by one day without reading or hearing about news or editorials on climate change.  This publicity, in large part, reflects concern over the potentially dire socio-economic and political consequences of climate change, which has either been observed or predicted by climate researchers.  Although much of the research findings are based on non-disputable scientific facts such as F = ma, the observational evidence and projections are not free of controversies.  One important reason for the controversies arises from the fact that the climate is influenced by complex interactions amongst the atmosphere, ocean, land, ice, plants, and animals.  In this class, we will explore the science of weather, climate, and climate change to appreciate what we observe in nature. We will also discuss various impacts caused by climate change and discuss the directions for the future.

Course Objectives 

  • Promote critical reading and thinking, and help students develop effective written and oral arguments.
  • Encourage individual and group learning, and provide students the experience of being part of a cohort of scholars with similar interests and a common focus.
  • Expose students to EMS interests and activities through early involvement in the College, and provide at least one friend on the faculty in EMS to whom they can go for advice outside of the normal academic advising channels.
  • Foster some of the practical skills necessary for academic life.
  • Challenge students to think about some of the major issues facing the world today, and the role that science and technology play in defining and addressing these issues. 

Attending Events 

  1. World in Conversation (WinC You will receive an email to your PSU account with directions on how to register for a dialogue. Contact WinC staff with any questions about registration by going to http://worldinconversation.org/help

WinC will take attendance at each session, and will send me an attendance list at the end of the period. World in Conversation (WinC) is a Center for Public Diplomacy that facilitates dialogues for Penn State students by Penn State students. These dialogues are meant to initiate collaborative critical thinking across borders on topics that are relevant, complex and often contentious. No one will tell you what you should think; instead they will ask you to express what you actually think.You will have the opportunity to participate in a facilitated dialogue as a part of this class. Each session is 95 minutes in duration and will occur outside of your regular class meeting times. One week before the sessions for this class begin, you will receive an email explaining how to register.  This email will be sent to your PSU account.  In order to receive credit, your attendance will be recorded.  But keep in mind:  You will not be able to attend the program (or receive credit) if you are more than 5 minutes late.

Attendance to WinC:  Attendance to this event 3 points toward the final grade. 

  1. Career Information Session: Tuesday, September 3rd, 10 am – 3 pm, at the Bank of America Career Services Building. There also is a research guide available to assist students with career information at http://psu.libguides.com/career-resources. (Attendance to this event counts toward 1 point toward the final grade.) 
  1. University Library Open House: September 12th, 9 am – 5 pm. Pattee and Paterno Library.

Important: Bring your student ID.  https://libraries.psu.edu/about/libraries-open-house (Attendance to this event counts toward 1 point toward the final grade. 

Grading Policy 

  1. Attendance: 20 points (0.5 off for each un-excused absence)
  2. Class Participation: 19 points. See class_participation_rubric.pdf in Canvas.
  3. Bring a hard copy of your resume to the class on Oct. 8th (1 point).
  4. Five Reports: 40 points, 7 points each for Reports 1, 3, 4, 5; and 12 points for Report 2): Description of Reports 1, 3, 4, and 5 can be found under “Detailed Fall 2019 Schedule” table below. For Report 2, see GetConnected.pdf on Canvas.

For rubric, see Report_Rubric.pdf on Canvas. 

  1. Term/Class Project: 20 points: In our term project, we will explore regionally varying temperature and precipitation patterns associated with various climate indices including global average temperature. From this exercise, I hope that you will gain some understanding of why the cold-season North American temperatures have been low in spite of the greenhouse gas-induced warming. The final outcome of the project is comprised of a written report [1-2 page text (single-spaced, 12-point font) plus figures] and PowerPoint (or equivalent) presentation (the time duration is TBD). See Class_Project_oral_presentation_Rubric.pdf and Class_Project_written_report_Rubric.pdf in Canvas. 

Detailed Fall 2019 schedule

Canvas materials are highlighted in red 

The in-class activities that require your presentation is highlighted in yellow

All assignments should be submitted through Canvas

Note: World in Conversation is described under Attending Events

This plan is subject to change during the course of the semester

  • Aug 27 Syllabus & Overview Overview.pdf
  • Aug 29 NASA web page introduction, greenhouse effect 101 activities
    • Greenhouse_gas_effect.pdf https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
    • Report 1: Read the NASA web site describing Evidence of Global Climate Change (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). From your perspective, what evidence do you find most compelling? Why? Is there any additional evidence that you’re aware of that is not mentioned in that web site? If your answer to the previous question is yes, explain why it is evidence of climate change. 300-400 words. Due on 9/2 and prepare to share the content of the assignment in class on 9/10 through a 1-2 minute presentation followed by 1-2 minute Q&A.
  • Sept 3 No class in lieu of attending Career Information Session 10 am – 3 pm, at the Bank of America Career Services Building http://psu.libguides.com/career-resources
    • Report 2: GetConnected.pdf Submit your report by 9/8. Prepare to share the content of the assignment in class on 9/10 through a 1-2 minute presentation. (reminder: 1.0 point toward your final grade)
  • Th Sept 5 EMS Library Visit (Elise Gowen, EMS librarian)
  • T Sep 10 THON visit (10 minutes) Discussion of Reports 1 & 2 Introduction of class project Class_Project.pdf 
  • Th Sep 12 No class in lieu of attending University Library Open House (11:00-12:00) 
    • After completion of the Libraries' Open House, students should be able to: effectively navigate the Libraries' physical spaces in order to locate needed resources and/or assistance from library staff and faculty; identify that the Libraries groups its collections, people, and resources into subject libraries and centers recognize that there are a variety of resources available beyond the classroom, including the Libraries' homepage, subject guides, and the Ask a Librarian service; and feel comfortable approaching library faculty and staff for assistance https://libraries.psu.edu/about/libraries-open-house
    • Throughout the Open House, swipe your PSU ID cards at each stop you visit. When you’re finished with at least 5 stops and have visited The Finish Line, you will receive an email (to your Penn State email address) that details which stops you visited. Please submit the email verification to CANVAS. (reminder: 1.0 point toward your final grade)
  • T Sep 17 Stevie Rocco (114 Deike) 
    • A hands-on introduction to the wide array of information technology resources at PSU. Report 3: Read the NASA web site describing Causes of Global Climate Change https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/ Summarize in your own words, the causes of climate change that you learned by reading it, and possibly from other resources (in that case, please indicate your source). 300-400 words. 
    • Due on 9/24 and prepare to share the content of the assignment in class on 9/26 through a 1-2 minute presentation followed by 1-2 minute Q&A
  • Th Sep 19 Class Project (continue)  Class_Project.pdf
  • Sep 24 Overview of Penn State Learning Services (10:35-10:50, Teresa Burkhart Cocurricular Programs Coordinator) class project (continue)
    • Class_Project.pdf
    • Rossby Waves_2.pdf 
  • Th Sep 26 Discussion of Report 3
    • Class project (continue)
    • John Nese (Meteorology representative: 11:15-11:50)
    • Class_Project.pdf
    • Shortrange_Weather_Forecasting_3.pdf 
  • T Oct 1 Dr. Seth Blumsack (10:35-11:15) Professor of Energy Policy and Economics and International Affairs, John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
    • Class project (continue)
    • Class_Project.pdf
    • Longrange_Weather_Forecasting_4.pdf 
  • Th Oct. 3 The Celebration of Undergraduate Engagement (CUE) by Karen Marosi 
    • Report 4: Read the NASA web site describing Effects of Global Climate Change. https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/ 
    • Summarize what you read in your own words, and add discussion which may includes the effect(s) that you think is (are) important but is (are) not mentioned in the web site. 300-400 words.
    • Due on 10/10 and prepare to share the content of the assignment in class on 10/15 through a 1-2 minute presentation followed by 1-2 minute Q&A.
  • T Oct 8 Writing Principles on Resumes by Kimberly Del Bright 
    • Bring a copy of your resume for class activities (1 point toward your final grade)
  • Th Oct 10 Allen MeWhinney (Undergraduate research experience) 
    • Final Project (continue)
    • Class_Project.pdf
    • Teleconnections_5.pdf 
  • T Oct 15 Discussion of Report 4 
    • Final Project (continue)
    • Class_Project.pdf
    • Teleconnections_5.pdf
  • Th Oct 17 
    • Final Project (continue)
    • Class_Project.pdf
    • Teleconnections_5.pdf 
  • T Oct 22 
    • Final Project (continue)
    • Class_Project.pdf
    • Teleconnections_5.pdf 
  • Th Oct 24 Sustainable Communities by Dr. Michele Halsell (Assistant Director of the Penn State’s Sustainability Institute) 
  • T Oct 29 Advising Information by Hilleary Himes (Director of Academic Advising, EMS)
  • Th Oct 31 Climate Change, Ethics, and Policy by Peter Buckland (Academic Program Manager, Penn State’s Sustainability Institute) 
  • T Nov. 5 No class due to a workshop
    • Start to prepare Report 5: Reflect on what you have learned in this class; describe how you will utilize the knowledge that you gained to succeed at Penn State and beyond. 
  • Th Nov 7 Why and How of Science Stories by Kimberly Del Bright 
  • T Nov 12 Final Project checkup (114 Deike)
  • Th Nov 14 Current Events in Climate Science TBD Submit a working copy of your Class Project to Canvas (5 points toward your final grade)
  • T Nov 19 No class (NOAA meeting)
  • Th Nov 21  No class in lieu of attending World in Conversation
  • T Dec. 3 Gaia Hypothesis & Daisy World: an illustration of the complexity of the climate system GAIA_HYPOTHESIS.pdf, DAISYWORD.pdf Submit the final copy of your written portion of the class project to Canvas (10 points)
    • Submit the PowerPoint (or equivalent) file for your presentation to Canvas
  • Th Dec. 5 In-class presentations of the final project (5 points) Report 5 due 
  • T Dec 10 In-class presentation of the final project (5 points)
  • Th Dec 6 Wrap-up: discussion of Report 5

Academic Integrity 

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students." 

Course Copyright 

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campushttp://equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources/disability-coordinator. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site: http://equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentationhttp://equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources/applying-for-services. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office (equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources/disability-coordinator) will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 


This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11http://undergrad.psu.edu/aappm/E-11-class-attendance.html, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35http://senate.psu.edu/policies-and-rules-for-undergraduate-students/44-0.... Please also see Illness Verification Policyhttps://studentaffairs.psu.edu/health-wellness/medical-services/policies..., and Religious Observance Policyhttp://undergrad.psu.edu/aappm/R-4-religious-observances.html. Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes.  Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student Care and Advocacy for help: http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/studentcare.  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form:http://undergrad.psu.edu/aappm/classabs.pdf, at least one week prior to the activity. 

Weather Delays

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State Newshttp://news.psu.edu/ and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at: https://psualert.psu.edu/psualert/

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (https://policy.psu.edu/policies/ad29) and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741