Climate Change Courses

Climate Change Courses at UCSB

The Academic Senate Sustainability Work Group hopes that this is a useful list for students and faculty alike.  As there are many faculty across the campus incorporating climate change into their courses, it is likely we have not included all the courses presently being taught.  If you know of a course that should be included, but is not, please contact


Global Tourism and Environmental Conservation (ANTH 130B)

Focus on the contradictions between international tourism as an economic development strategy and environmental conservation efforts, especially in an era of climate change. One major objective is to help students make more informed decisions about their own tourist experiences.

Climate Change in Prehistory (ANTH 166)

Survey of the impact of short- and long-term climate change on human prehistory from the late Ice Age to the Medieval Warm Period (c. A.D. 1000). Course surveys the relationships between climate and changing human societies.

Introduction to Oceanography (EARTH  4)  

An introduction to oceanography covering the major physical, chemical, and geological features of the oceans, their role in earth history, and potential use as a natural resource.

Geological Catastrophes (EARTH 20)

Course deals with geologic catastrophes, e.g., earthquakes, vocanic eruptions, tsunamis, and landslides. Students will learn the basic physical causes of these naturally occurring events and discuss the consequences.

Global Warming – Science and Society (EARTH 130)

Introduction to the scientific and societal issues surrounding global climate change. Includes introduction to physical climatology, greenhouse effect, climate history, anthropogenic changes, and future predictions. Student discussion and debate on the potential societal scenarios available to mitigate future climate change.

The State of Our Planet (EEMB 104)

The world is in a period of rapid environmental change almost unprecedented in human history. Investigate the scientific bases for primary forms of change (over-population, climate change, biodiversity loss, etc.), along with the consequences for modern society.

Phytoplankton Photoecology (EEMB 151)  

How sunlight controls all aspects of phytoplankton biolgy, thus affecting many large scale ocean processes where phytoplankton play a central role; primarily production, biogeochemcial cycling, impacts of climate change on oceans due to global warming and ozone depletion. Topics include photosynthesis, photoadaptation, photoinhibition and photoregulation of metabolism, behavior and survival strategies. The evolutionary similarities and differences between taxonomic groupings of photoplankton are examined as well as the present photoecology of harmful algal blooms, picophytoplankton and microalgal symbionts of corals and other marine animals.

Climate Change (ECON 127)

Economic and policy issues underlying threat of global climate change, in particular, role of economics in designing efficient climate policy. Present some of scientific methods in assessing climate change processes. Topics include externalities, taxation, valuation, discounting, and cost-benefit analysis.

Cultural Representations :  Water Imaginations    (ENGL  122WE)

In this course we will investigate the complex struggles over the environment in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries through the worlds of the literary texts and films that have tried to take their readers beneath the seas, over the ice sheets, across deserts, through cities, islands and continents and beyond into space. We will take a specifically literary approach to environmental questions, by examining the increasingly varied modes of writing through which the sea, ice, and fresh water are imagined, interpreted, and contested. How did “environmental crisis” become a way in which to understand our relationship to the contemporary world, and to imagine our pasts and futures? What narrative strategies do literary (and other) texts use to orient us towards conflicts over the meanings and uses of water, or of sharks and their oceans? Is water, as a basic requirement of human life, imagined in ways that are truly universal, or do water imaginations change across human societies, past and present?  Reading and viewing an international selection of literature and film, we will begin by reconstructing some of the turbulent pathways of water in thought over time, looking at how water has come to be seen as a “resource,” and how the sea has been imagined as a place both deeply marginal to humanity (a place of pirates and other dangers) as well as crucial to the secrets of human life’s origins and meanings. We will then move to water as a site of experience, imagination and conflict in the present, engaging the sorrowful seas of environmentalist documentary film, as well as fictions that convey the suffering of the planet’s deeply uneven and contaminated water supplies. Finally, we will look at how writers and filmmakers dream of water’s futures, from efforts to push beyond the boundaries of known and experienced worlds in mountaineering and surfing literature, to the profound and prophetic science fictions on ice at a moment of climate change.

Introduction to Environmental Science (ENV S  2)

Provides integration of fundamental science with environmental topics. Includes impacts of human population increase; principles of systems and change, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystems and global climate; energy and laws of thermodynamics; water supply and pollution; toxicology and risk analysis; air pollution and stratospheric ozone depletion.

Global Tourism and Environmental Conservation    (ENV S  130B )

Focus on the contradictions between international tourism as an economic development strategy and environmental conservation efforts, especially in an era of climate change. One major objective is to help students make more informed decisions about their own tourist experiences.

Oceans and Atmosphere (GEOG 3A)

Introduction to the oceans and atmosphere and their role in the Earth’s climate and its weather patterns. Focus on the flows of solar energy through the ocean and atmosphere systems. Human impacts of the Earth’s climate are also introduced.

Energy, Water, and Climate (GEOG 7)

Oil and water are two key strategic resources dominating the international scene. This class provides an overview of global distributions of oil and water resources and analyzes some of the social, economic, and geopolitical ramifications of these distributions.

Living with Global Warming (GEOG 8 )

Overview of global warming and climate change processes. Description of complex relationships between scientific, technological, economic, social, political, and historical facets of global warming and climate change. Introduction to the concept and practice of climate modeling.

Climatic Change and Its Consequences (GEOG 119)   

Mechanisms and processes which produce climate change. Methods for reconstructing paleo-climates. Impacts of past climate change on human societies.

Earth System Science (GEOG    134)

Description of various components of earth system: climate and hydrologic systems, biogeochemical dynamics, ecological dynamics, human interactions, and global change with an emphasis on the climate components. Observations and modeling of earth system.

Environmental Impacts in Human History (GEOG 140)

Interactions between human history and the environment are explored. Example topics include early Earth history, long term climate change, the origin of agriculture, short term climate change, the origin of importance of disease and invasive species.

Global Environmental Policy and Politics (GLOBL 161)

The evolution of international environmental negotiations, agreements, and organizations, and the role governmental and non-governmental actors are playing in shaping them are examined. Climate change, biodiversity conservation, and equitable global sustainable development are among the critical policy challenges considered.