About GEOL 096 A

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Open to Degree and CDE students; Cross listed with AS 096 A, HUMN 096 A and PHYS 096 B; Total combined enrollment = 200

Section Description

Cross-listed in Physics, Geology, and Humanities, and A&S Interdisciplinary Counts for either the Natural Science distribution requirement (if you register with PHYS or GEOL prefixes) or the Humanities Distribution Requirement (if you register with the AS or HUMN prefixes) This course, team-taught by faculty in English, Physics, Geology, and Philosophy, will approach the concept of extraterrestrial life from a both natural science and humanities perspectives. This multidisciplinary introductory class delves into the origin of life in the universe and the quest for space exploration. The class will approach these topics through the lens of astronomy, biology, physics, geology, chemistry, philosophy and art. By exploring the planetary and physical conditions required for life to exist, students will learn about core scientific concepts, such as the scientific method, length and time scales, evolution, as well as how these ideas alter our perception of everyday life, popular culture and the arts. Course Objectives: •We would like you to come away from this class understanding the fundamental theories of the origins of life. •We would like you to appreciate the scale of the universe and our position in it. This includes both astronomical and biological length and time scales. •We expect you to understand the physical and chemical controls on life on and outside of the Earth System •We expect that you will be able to discuss cultural representations of extraterrestrial life and reflect on how those representations are used to navigate a variety of fears and desires. •Learn about the physical and technical challenges to explore our universe and interstellar travel.

Section Expectation

To foster the transdisciplinary nature of the course and the topic, the course is organized around weekly “Guiding Questions”. Each of these questions will be explored in depth through the dual lens of the science and the humanities. As such, different instructors will be leading the various lectures, with at time several instructors leading the same class time. Accordingly, assignments and tests will reflect the dominant weekly topic leading to an overall balanced approach towards the humanities/science coverage and assessment of the topics. Along with traditional lectures, the class is also formatted for regular flipped classrooms, debates and guest lectures. Attendance will be be part of the grade. Note that this is a large course (open to 200 students)


There will not be traditional midterms in this class. Instead, you will receive weekly assignments related to the weekly topic. These assignments will vary in their format: while some will consists in online quizzes, other will be blogs discussion, summaries of reading, etc.

Course Dates



Ira Allen Chapel I201 (View Campus Map)


to on Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Important Dates

Note: These dates may not be accurate for select courses during the Summer Session.

Last Day to Add
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Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
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