Environmental history of the southwest as a general science education course

Paul R. Sheppard, Christine L. Hallman, Ronald H. Towner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Environmental History of the Southwest is a general science education course at the University of Arizona with an emphasis on human-environment interaction of the past and an objective of preparing non-science majors to understand and critically evaluate contemporary environmental issues. The American Southwest is well suited for such a course, as it is rich in many data sets of paleoenvironmental reconstruction techniques and has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. Lectures are grouped into three parts. Part 1, Background, covers geology and climatology, paleoenvironmental techniques, and ecosystems. Part 2, Past Environments and Societies, covers environmental changes since the late Pleistocene and human response to and interaction with those changes. Part 3, Modern Environmental Issues, covers contemporary environmental issues as well as past analogs of these issues for comparison. Lecture topics are interconnected with one another, making for a comprehensive study of environmental history. Several elements of science are revealed and discussed, improving general science literacy among the students, who are mostly non-science majors. Other regions of North America have had long-term human habitation and are also rich in multiple data sets of paleoenvironmental indicators, so nearly all of the continental U.S. and Canada is suitable for a course on environmental history and human-environment interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-219
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geoscience Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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