AREA 2: METHODS OF EARTH OBSERVATION AND MEASUREMENT

(9 Credits)

This area of study introduces students to basic scientific methods used in observing and monitoring natural systems. Students learn to apply these methods in assessing the condition of natural systems, and in making data-driven conclusions about their sustainability.

SUSC PS5030 Observing and Understanding Sea Level Change

Instructor: Dr. James Davis

 

This course provides an overview of the science related to observing and understanding sea-level rise, which has a profound impact on the sustainability of coastal cities and ecosystems. In modern research, sea-level rise is viewed as a complex response of the Earth “system of systems” to climate change. Measuring ongoing sea-level change is challenging due to the great natural variability of sea level on short time scales caused by tides, weather, and ocean currents. Interpreting measurements so that one can assess (and mitigate against) potential economic and societal impacts of sea-level rise is crucial but can be complicated, since so many Earth-system processes play a role. Some of these processes are related and others are unrelated to climate change; some of the latter are natural and others are of anthropogenic origin. Students enrolled in this course will through lectures and class discussions address topics related to the underlying observational basis for sea-level rise.

Given the complexity of sea level rise, it is important for those in technical positions to understand the systems level interactions that not only lead to rising waters but also the consequences that these changes inflict on other parts of our environment. What we hear most commonly is that sea level rise will affect hundreds of millions of people living in coastal areas and make those populations susceptible to flooding. But in addition to this community effect, sea level rise also have dramatic effects on coastal habitats, leading to issue such as erosion, soil contamination, and wetland flooding, just to name a few. This course will introduce and prepare students to develop a more comprehensive and holistic approach to sea level rise. By training students to observe, measure, interpret, and begin to predict how sea level rise affects populations and communities differently, students will be in strong positions to address, mitigate, and adapt to the challenges more effectively using evidence-based approaches.

SUSC PS5210 Environmental Sustainability Indicators: Construction and Use

Instructor: Dr. Alex de Sherbinin

 

This course will present students with the architecture, data, methods, and use cases of environmental indicators, from national-level indices to spatial indices. The course will draw on the instructor’s experience in developing environmental sustainability, vulnerability and risk indicators for the Yale/Columbia EPI as well as for a diverse range of clients including the Global Environmental Facility, UN Environment, and the US Agency for International Development. Guest lecturers will provide exposure to Lamont experience in monitoring the ecological and health impacts of environmental pollution and the use of environmental indicators in New York City government. Beyond lecture and discussion, classroom activities will include learning games, role play and case study methods.

The course will explore alternative framings of sustainability, vulnerability and performance, as well as design approaches and aggregation techniques for creating composite indicators (e.g., hierarchical approaches vs. data reduction methods such as principal components analysis). The course will examine data sources from both in-situ monitoring and satellite remote sensing, and issues with their evaluation and appropriateness for use cases and end users. In lab sessions, the students will use pre-packaged data and basic statistical packages to understand the factors that influence index and ranking results, and will construct their own simple comparative index for a thematic area and region or country of their choice. They will learn to critically assess existing indicators and indices, and to construct their own. In addition, students will assess the impacts of environmental performance in several developing and developed countries using available data (e.g., pollutant levels in soils and air in Beijing and NYC), and project future changes based on the trends they see in their assessments. The course will also examine theories that describe the role of scientific information in decision-making processes, and factors that influence the uptake of information in those processes. The course will present best practices for designing effective indicators that can drive policy decisions.

SUSC PS5060 Statistics, Data Analysis and Coding for Sustainability Science

Instructors: Dr. James Davis and Dr. Michael Previdi

 

This course provides an overview of essential mathematical concepts, an introduction to new concepts in statistics and data analysis, and provides computer coding skills that will prepare students for coursework in the Master of Science in Sustainability Science program as well as to succeed in a career having a sustainability science component.  In addition to an overview of essential mathematical concepts, the skills gained in this course include statistics, and coding applied to data analysis in the Sustainability Sciences. Many of these skills are broadly applicable to science-related professions, and will be useful to those having careers involving interaction with scientists, managing projects utilizing scientific analysis, and developing science-based policy.

 

Students enrolled in this course will learn through lectures, class discussion, and hands-on exercises that address the following topics: Review of mathematical concepts in calculus, trigonometry, and linear algebra; Mathematical concepts related to working on a spherical coordinate system (such as that for the Earth); Probability and statistics, including use of probability density functions to calculate expectations, hypothesis testing, and the concept of experimental uncertainty; Concepts in data analysis, including linear least squares, time-series analysis, parameter uncertainties, and analysis of fit; Computer coding skills, including precision of variables, arrays and data structures, input/output, flow control, and subroutines, and coding tools to produce basic X-Y plots as well as images of data fields on a global map.

SUSC PS5020 Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on Global Forests

Instructor: Dr. Brendan Buckley

 

Forests are often called the lungs of the earth, for their role in converting atmospheric CO2 into the life-sustaining Oxygen that we all breathe. Collectively, the global forests contribute to roughly 40% of the annual global carbon sink, and yet little is known about the drivers of terrestrial carbon sequestration, and the processes involved in these systems response to changes in climate. Forested landscapes also comprise some of the most critical habitats on planet Earth, by serving as refuge to diverse and often endangered flora and fauna, and as regulators of water and soils. These services are particularly important for highland regions where forests are heavily exploited and are often the primary source of water and food for marginalized human populations. This course takes an in-depth look into the current, primary literature on the direct and indirect effects of climate change on forest ecosystems around the globe, and examines some of the primary policy solutions to forest loss mitigation and sustainability. Because the instructor is from the LDEO Tree Ring Lab there will be an emphasis on using dendrochronology for understanding changes in biomass for forest environments, with emphasis on the broadleaf forests of eastern North America and the largely coniferous, fire-prone forests of the American West. Students will have access to multiple sources of data, including satellite, forest inventory, tree rings and eddy-flux measurements. The course will have a field component that will take place at the Black Rock Forest (BRF), about two hours north of NYC. Students will conduct primary research for a final project, with the goal being to develop a set of group projects related to forests and climate change. This course will prepare students to assess the impacts of climate extremes on forest systems and to understand the complexities of response possibilities from diverse ecosystems.

This course will combine lectures and assigned course readings to develop the framework for understanding global forest response to climate change. Each class will begin with a 5-question mini-quiz based upon the assigned readings and the previous lecture. This class will discuss the questions asked, techniques used and key findings of the papers, with discussions led by the students. The class includes a field trip to Black Rock Forest (dates TBD) where students will collect data for use in a class project, thereby providing the opportunity to develop skills in field research and data analysis.

SUSC PS5190 Remote Sensing for Aquatic Environments

Instructor: Dr. Ajit Subramaniam

 

Aquatic systems are critical for provisioning ecosystem services that have sustained human civilization as evidenced by the establishment of the earliest civilizations on banks of rivers or along a coast. Apart from regulating climate, aquatic systems provide food and transportation services, fresh water lakes and reservoirs provide water for consumption and irrigation, and coastal systems offer recreational services. But growing human population, especially along the coast, has endangered the quality of ecosystem services. The primary finding of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was that 15 out of 24 ecosystem services examined are being degraded, or being used unsustainably. Monitoring the aquatic ecosystem and understanding how to distinguish between anthropogenic and natural variability is an essential aspect of sustainability science. This course will introduce the use of remote sensing techniques that can be used to study the aquatic environment. There are several space-based sensors that provide information relevant to sustainable management of aquatic resources. Depending on the sensor, observations are made as frequently as every day and spatially covering the entire globe.

Understanding the spatial and temporal context around an issue can help discriminate between local and far field effects and time series of remote sensing data can be constructed to investigate causes and consequences of environmental events. Thus knowledge of the basic science of remote sensing, understanding how to select the appropriate sensor to answer a question, where to find the data and how to analyze this data could be critical tools for anyone interested in oceanic, coastal, and freshwater resource management.

PRE-APPROVED COURSES:

EEEB GU4055 Principles and Applications of Modern DNA Sequencing Technology

Genome sequencing, the technology used to translate DNA into data, is now a fundamental tool in biological and biomedical research, and is expected to revolutionize many related fields and industries in coming years as the technology becomes faster, smaller, and less expensive. Learning to use and interpret genomic information, however, remains challenging for many students, as it requires synthesizing knowledge from a range of disciplines, including genetics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics. Although genomics is of broad interest to many fields—such as ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, medicine, and computer science—students in these areas often lack sufficient background training to take a genomics course. This course bridges this gap, by teaching skills in modern genomic technologies that will allow students to innovate and effectively apply these tools in novel applications across disciplines. To achieve this, we implement an active learning approach to emphasize genomics as a data science, and use this organizing principle to structure the course around computational exercises, lab-based activities using state-of-the-art sequencing instruments, case studies, and field work. Together, this approach will introduce students to the principles of genomics by allowing them to generate, analyze, and interpret data hands-on while using the most cutting-edge genomic technologies of today in a stimulating and engaging learning experience.

EEEB GU4192 Introduction to Landscape Analysis (Area 2 or 3)

Area 2 or 3

 

Changes in land use and land cover underlie multiple environmental and sustainability concerns, including conservation of biodiversity, impacts of climate change, climate mitigation through terrestrial carbon storage, urbanization and watershed protection. This class provides basic theory in landscape analysis and training methods for analyzing landscapes, focusing on interpretation of satellite images.

EEEB GU4260 Food, Ecology & Globalization

This class examines the social, ecological, and political-economic roles of what and how we eat from a global perspective.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

EESC GU4008 Intro to Atmospheric Science

Basic physical processes controlling atmospheric structure: thermodynamics; radiation physics and radiative transfer; principles of atmospheric dynamics; cloud processes; applications to Earths atmospheric general circulation, climatic variations, and the atmospheres of the other planets.

Prerequisites: advanced calculus and general physics, or the instructor’s permission.

EESC GU4888 Stable Isotope Geochemistry – Prerequisites: introductory chemistry and earth science coursework.

This class will be an introduction to the field of stable isotope geochemistry and its application to understanding current and past environmental processes. The utility of stable isotopes as tracers will be examined with respect to the disciplines of hydrology, oceanography, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, landscape evolution, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle dynamics. We will focus on the stable isotopes of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen in the water, ice, carbonates, and organic compounds and why they fractionate in the environment. The theoretical background for isotope fractionation will be discussed in class. Radiocarbon as a tracer and dating tool will also be reviewed. In addition, the mechanics of how mass spectrometers analyze different isotope ratios will be explored in class and during experiments in the laboratory. Additional key parts of the class will be a review of paper or laboratory reports and student-lead reviews of published papers on relevant topics.

Prerequisites: Introductory Chemistry and Earth Science coursework. Given in alternate years.

EEESC GU4925 Introduction to Physical Oceanography

Physical properties of seawater, water masses and their distribution, sea-air interaction influence on the ocean structure, basic ocean circulation pattern, relation of diffusion and advection with respect to distribution of ocean properties, ocean tides and waves, turbulence, and introduction to ocean dynamics.

Prerequisites: Recommended preparation: a solid background in mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

EESC GU4930 Earth's Oceans and Atmosphere

Physical properties of water and air. Overview of the stratification and circulation of Earth's ocean and atmosphere and their governing processes; ocean-atmosphere interaction; resultant climate system; natural and anthropogenic forced climate change.

Prerequisites: Recommended preparation: a good background in the physical sciences.

EHSC P8371 Public Health GIS

Instructors: Joel Capellan

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has emerged as an essential tool for public health researchers and practitioners. The GIS for Public Health course will offer students an opportunity to gain skills in using GIS software to apply spat ial analysis techniques to public health research questions. The laboratory section of the course will give students the opportunity for hands-on learning in how to use GIS systems to analyze data and produce maps and reports. These laboratory exercises will be designed to increasingly challenge the students to incorporate the analytic skills and techniques they have learned in other courses with the geospatial and spatial statistics techniques commonly used in GIS. Guest speakers will be invited to share their real-world examples of GIS in Public Health research and practice. These speakers will include Columbia researchers and staff from government agencies or non-profit organizations.

SUMA PS4145 Science of Sustainable Water

Area 2 or 5

Instructors: Wade McGillis

 

The sustainability of water resources is a critical issue facing society over the coming decades. Water resources are affected by changes not only in climate but also in population, economic growth, technological change, and other socioeconomic factors. In addition, they serve a dual purpose; water resources are critical to both human society and natural ecosystems. The objective of this course is to first provide students with a fundamental understanding of key hydrological processes. Students will then use this understanding to explore various sustainable strategies for integrated water resources management. Numerous case studies will be highlighted throughout the course to illustrate real world, practical challenges faced by water managers. Students will be asked to think critically and to use basic quantitative and management skills to answer questions related to sustainable water development. Considering the importance of water to society the understanding that students obtain from this course will be an essential part of their training in sustainable management.

SUMA PS4235 Science of Urban Ecology

Instructors: Matthew Palmer

 

Urban Ecology and Design will explore and evaluate the ecological potential of the designed urban environment. Students will work in interdisciplinary groups to study and evaluate the relationships between urban design and ecological performance through a series of case studies, field explorations, and studio visits. New York City will be used as a test site for analysis and students will work together to evaluate urban systems with regards to vegetation, wildlife, sediment management, water, energy, and pollution using techniques of visual mapping and the application of quantitative scientific criteria over multiple scales. The course offers a deeper understanding of the relationships that drive urban ecosystems, a critical evaluation of commonly used urban design techniques, and insights into how to better design functional ecosystems within the urban context.

SUMA PS5148 Managing Ground Water Resources

Area 2 or 5

SUMA PS5230 Earth's Climate System

Instructors: Benjamin Cook

 

This course examines the fundamental physical processes that control the primary features and patterns of variability of the Earth's climate system. Specific topics include energy balance and the greenhouse effect, the circulation of the oceans and atmosphere, land surface interactions and feedbacks, the role of the biosphere and cryosphere, paleoclimatology, climate modeling, and global and regional patterns of climate variability and change observed and expected as a consequence of anthropogenic influences.

 

The goal of the course is to provide students with the opportunity to gain a fundamental understanding of the processes that give rise to observed climate variability at a range of temporal and spatial scales. Students will develop the quantitative skills and knowledge to allow them to independently evaluate scientific claims about the state and behavior of Earth's climate system in the past, present, and future. The course includes case study modules that integrate an understanding of the physical processes and important feedbacks in the context of policy- and management-relevant aspects of current and future climate change.

SUMA PS5770 The Business and Ecology of Sustainable Forestry

Instructors: Ralph Schmidt

 

One in three seems to be the indicative number.  30% of earth’s land area is covered by forests (5000 years ago it was 50%); one third of current total CO2 emissions are reabsorbed by forests; one third of humanity cooks with wood every day; agroforestry is the preferred system for these same 2 billion people.  Hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples have their native land in forests  The biodiversity score is much higher: more than half of all of earth’s species are found in forests (about 25% are in the oceans); forests are the major system for fresh water conservation; and the traded value of global forest products is about $300 billion.  Finally, to be in the forest (especially with your eyes open) makes life worth living.

Forests are therefore intimately connected with climate, water, biodiversity, food production, global poverty, indigenous people, and human spiritual well-being; not to mention the major global industries based on them.  They are best understood when considered holistically, and that is the approach of this course.  We will examine all the issues mentioned above and their connections with forests to develop a comprehensive understanding of them.  We will study both forest ecology and economics and business.  We will delve deeply into the role of forests in climate change; forests both absorb and produce CO2 emissions.  We will consider temperate, tropical and boreal forests.  On Saturday field trips we will learn to measure forest biomass, commercial volume and carbon content.  We will learn to financially analyze forest business ventures.  Students will produce reports at the end of the course on one of the connections outlined above or on a country of interest.  Mid semester, students will develop analytical work products on measurement and financial analysis.

Without an understanding of forests, one’s grasp of all the issues mentioned above is incomplete.  Also forests provide a rather straight-forward context for understanding and analyzing many issues that are critical to all areas of sustainability.  We will utilize the forest context to better understand, for example, management of water, biodiversity, poverty alleviation, environmental justice, forest industries and the global carbon cycle and climate.  In other words, skills acquired here will be useful in other fields of study.

EEEB GU4100 Forest Ecology (N.B. 4 credits)

Forest Ecology focuses on interpreting and understanding pattern and process in forested ecosystems. These ecosystems include the assemblages of trees and the biological communities and environments in which they exist. The complex interactions among the organisms and the physical environment are a major focus of this course. The course involves lecture, literature discussion, and field laboratory components, with an emphasis on the analysis and interpretation of student-collected data.

Lab required. 

Prerequisite(s): One year of college Biology.

EEEB GU4195 Marine Conservation Ecology (Area 2 or 3)

Area 2 or 3

Marine ecosystems are among the most threatened on the globe, and thus there is a pressing need to develop and implement effective conservation and management measures. Moreover, because marine environments differ in their physics, chemistry and biology, conservation in the marine realm is fundamentally different than in terrestrial habitats. This course is intended to educate students – as members of our global society – as to the basic principles of marine biology that are necessary to understand the most pressing environmental problems affecting the marine sphere. We will do this through providing overviews of physical and biological processes central to understanding marine ecology, examining the impacts of human activities on these processes and on marine environments and communities, and considering potential actions to mitigate or lessen the effects of these activities.

Prerequisite(s): Environmental Biology 1 or equivalent; instructor approval.

EESC GR6928 Tropical Meteorology

An introduction to the physics governing the large-scale behavior of the tropical atmosphere. Topics covered include the Hadley and Walker circulations, monsoons, atmospheric equatorial waves, the Madden-Julian oscillation, tropical cyclones, and El Nino. Principles of atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics will be introduced as needed.

Prerequisites: EESC W4008,EESC W4210/APPH4210 and EESC G6927, or some prior exposure to linear equatorial wave theory.

EESC GU4050 Global Assessment and Monitoring Using Remote Sensing

General introduction to fundamentals of remote sensing; electromagnetic radiation, sensors, interpretation, quantitative image analysis and modeling. Example applications in the Earth and environmental sciences are explored through the analysis of remote sensing imagery in a state-or-the-art visualization laboratory.

Prerequisites: Advanced level undergraduates may be admitted with the instructors permission. Calculus I and Physics I & II are required for undergraduates who wish to take this course.

EESC GU4924 Intro to Atmospheric Chemistry – Prerequisites: Physics W1201, Chemistry W1403, Calculus III, or equivalent or the instructor’s permission.

Physical and chemical processes determining the atmospheric composition and the implications for climate and regional air pollution. Atmospheric evolution and human influence; basics of the greenhouse effect, photolysis, reaction kinetics; atmospheric transport of trace species; stratospheric ozone chemistry; tropospheric hydrocarbon chemistry; oxidizing power, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, carbon, mercury cycles; chemistry-climate-biosphere interactions; aerosols, smog, acid rain.

Prerequisites: Physics W1201, Chemistry W1403, Calculus III, or equivalent or the instructor's permission. EESC W2100 preferred.

EESC GU4926 Introduction to Chemical Oceanography

Factors controlling the concentration and distribution of dissolved chemical species within the sea. The physical chemistry of seawater, ocean circulation and mixing, gas exchange, and biogeochemical processes interact to influence the distribution and fate of elements in the ocean. The course examines in some detail the two-way interaction between marine ecosystems and their chemical environment, and the implications of these interactions for distributions in the ocean of carbon, nutrients, and trace metals.

Prerequisites: Recommended preparation: one year of chemistry.

EHSC P6360 Analysis of Environmental Health Data (Area 2 or 3) *R-based

Instructors: Julie Herbstman

 

Working with data is a fundamental skill for all EHS MPH graduates, irrespective of their area of concentration. Data is the foundation of all research and becoming comfortable describing, analyzing, interpreting, summarizing and presenting is critical for the success of all environmental health scientists. This course will teach students how to work with data at a fundamental level. We will use a large, publicly available dataset (e.g., New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC NHANES)) data to illustrate analytic techniques and approaches. This course is required for all students in the EHS MPH department, regardless of certificate selection and should be taken prior to certificate based required courses.

EPID P8432 Environmental Epidemiology 

Area 2 or 3

Instructors: Andrew Rundle

The goals of this class are to familiarize the students with the methodological issues and design strategies used in environmental epidemiology and to develop the student's critical thinking regarding the application of epidemiologic methods. The course covers traditional approaches to environmental epidemiology such as, occupational cohorts and ecologic studies and also covers newer molecular epidemiologic approaches to exposure assessment and the analysis of gene-environment interactions. Discussions of classic environment-disease associations, such as aflatoxin and liver cancer, illustrate methodologies used to investigate the health effects of environmental exposures. Each week readings will be assigned for discussion in the following class, students are expected to be prepared to discuss the readings.

SUMA PS4147 Water Resources and Climate

Instructors: Indrani Pal & Laia Andreu

 

This course will cover the science needed to understand hydrology, the link between hydrology and climate, and why climate change will affect the hydrologic cycle. It will then look at what changes have occurred in the past, and what changes are projected for the future and how these changes may affect other sectors, such as agriculture. The final module of the course will look at adaptation measures to adapt to climate change. The course will be formatted to be a mixture of lectures and seminars, with the lecture portion used to introduce scientific concepts and the seminar portion to discuss and evaluate the readings assigned. At the end of this course, students will the hydrologic cycle and its connection to climate, how changes in climate have affected/will affect how much water is available on land, how water impacts ecosystem services, and how to diagnose the cause of a climate-related water problem and develop solutions to address it.

SUMA PS5035 GHG Emissions 

Instructors: Cynthia Cummis

Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are now at a record high, and the world’s scientific community agrees that continued unabated release of greenhouse gases will have catastrophic consequences. Many efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, both public and private, have been underway for decades, yet it is now clear that collectively these efforts are failing, and that far more concerted efforts are necessary. In December 2015, the world’s nations agreed in Paris to take actions to limit the future increase in global temperatures well below to 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C. Achieving this goal will require mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, both public and private. Critical to any attempt to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions is a clear, accurate understanding of the sources and levels of greenhouse gas emissions. This course will address all facets of greenhouse gas emissions accounting and reporting and will provide students with tangible skills needed to direct such efforts in the future.

 

Students in this course will gain hands-on experience designing and executing greenhouse gas emissions inventories for companies, financial institutions and governments employing all necessary skills including the identification of analysis boundaries,  data collection, calculation of emissions levels, and reporting of results. In-class workshops and exercises will complement papers and group assignments. A key component of this course will be critical evaluation of both existing accounting and reporting standards as well as GHG emissions reduction target setting practices.

This course will introduce many of the challenges facing carbon accounting practitioners and will require students to recommend solutions to these challenges derived through critical analysis. Classes will examine current examples of greenhouse gas reporting efforts and will allow students the opportunity to recommend improved calculation and reporting methods.

SUMA PS5150 Energy and Sustainable Development

Instructors: Philip LaRocco

Sustainable energy and sustainable development are multi-dimensional. While it may seem that international agreements, meetings and institutions are the driving force of change, there are many perspectives to consider as potentially more important to actual change. This course examines many of these.

  1. Customer and End-user-What are the factors that influence the purchase of more or less sustainable energy by consumers?

  2. Country and National Government-What conditions dictate a country’s path to a more or less sustainable energy and sustainable development future?

  3. International Organizations and Agreements-What goals, priorities, activities and resource allocations point to a more sustainable future?

  4. Programs-Which country and regional activities tend to increase energy availability and advance sustainable development?

  5. Product and Service Businesses-What are the fundamental considerations when selling more sustainable energy goods and services in “frontier” markets?

  6. Project Developers-What issues face grid and off-the-grid sustainable energy project developers and operators?

  7. Grid Utilities-What sustainability issues confront the traditional central station utility?

  8. Financier-What factors influence making an investment decision in sustainable energy in frontier markets?

  9. Regional or Specialized Perspectives-What are the similarities and differences among regional or “special” perspectives such as least developed countries or small islands?

SUMA PS5255 Data Analysis and Visualization *R and Python-based

Instructors: Greg Yetman

 

Data science is an exciting new field of applied research that takes advantage of the ever-growing volume of data being collected to support of decision-making in both the public and private sectors. Similar to traditional statistical analysis, these new approaches have limits and issues that are important to understand before application to problem solving. This course aims to introduce the common methods used in data science, best practices in data management, and the basic scripting skills required to start analyzing data in R and Python. After introducing foundational scripting and data analysis methods, a case study approach will be used to highlight both what can be accomplished with data analysis and the limits of the data and methods used. Lab exercises will teach basic skills in scripting in Python and R and then move to a common approach for data analysis: adapting existing scripts and software libraries to solve applied data problems.

 

The requirement to understand the interaction of social and natural systems requires data-driven policy decisions, and the ongoing assessment of policies requires rigorous, reproducible assessments of effectiveness for promoting sustainability. Both requirements can be met in part by data science approaches that are applicable to the natural and social sciences and reproducible in academic and applied settings. Data science techniques have been developed to derive insight from large volumes of available data that are often collected for purposes other than the interests of the data scientist. This flexibility in approach means that the techniques used in data science are well adapted to support gaining insights from data relevant for sustainability science. This course has been designed to introduce these techniques in anticipation of increased use in promoting sustainability.

The course has no perquisites; however, an understanding of statistics and probability will be very useful background, and any previous programming or scripting skills will be applicable to the lab assignments.