The Science Behind the Headlines: What's the Truth?

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Fall 2018 quarter

Taught by

biology, genetics, microbiology
organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, biochemistry

Are you curious about the world around you? Would you like to really understand "buzz terms" the media uses such as the water crisis, the energy debate, sustainability? How can we believe what we are being told? What is the evidence? How is scientific data actually collected? Are the correct conclusions being drawn? As responsible citizens, we should know the answers to these questions.

We will demystify the hype surrounding current scientific and environmental issues, critically examine the data, and use scientific reasoning and experimental design to come to our own conclusions. We will study Water and Energy as themes to examine our environment, considering local, national, and global water issues. We will also examine current energy use and demand, critically assessing various sources of energy, such as fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, and hydropower.

In this field- and lab-based program, scientific analysis (rather than conjecture or gut feeling) will be the foundation of our work. We will learn modern field science and lab techniques: how to take measurements in the field, collect samples for laboratory analysis, and identify and precisely determine the concentrations of nutrients and pollutants. Other class activities will include small group problem-solving workshops, seminars, and lectures. Credit equivalencies will include introduction to environmental science: water and energy, laboratory and field methods in environmental science, quantitative reasoning and scientific mathematics, and scientific writing.

Note: This program will be repeated in winter quarter, and an almost identical version will be offered in spring, called "Analyzing the World with Math and Science." Students taking the program in fall quarter should not register for the winter repeat program, or the related spring program.

Program Details

Fields of Study

biology chemistry environmental studies field studies

Preparatory For

environmental and laboratory sciences, the liberal arts and education.


Fall Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning