Global Warming: An Instructional Case

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Course Units

Unit 1 Overview of Global Warming

This unit is used to introduce the topic and bring the attention of students on global warming. It will start with a discussion of whether global warming is a real problem. Students are encouraged to make their own judgment by reviewing and analyzing evidences from graph data, geographic pictures and videos. Students will further be asked to calculate their own contributions to global warming. I hope these direct, phenomenal experience and active engagement could stimulate students’ interests and keep them seeking the answer during the whole project.

Unit 2 Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

Following last unit, this unit will introduce the major reason causing the global warming. Students will first recall some concepts and theories in thermodynamics (physics). Based on these theories, the teacher will lead a discussion of the energy flow between the sun, the atmosphere and the earth surface, which is the premise to introduce greenhouse effect. The topic will then focus on the concepts of greenhouse effect and the circulatory route of greenhouse gases. An interesting carbon bathtub model will be discussed in the class to help students build/consolidate concepts of equilibrium and dynamics of reactions (chemistry). In this unit, students will be challenged to integrate multiple disciplines to deeply think and study (instead of superficially reading some introductory materials) on a real issue, although largely simplified.

Uint 3 Impacts of Global Warming

After two units, students have already known the existence and the major cause of global warming. This unit serves to the reasons why this issue needs to be fully acknowledged and seriously concerned. Students will survey the expected effects caused by global warming on natural, ecological and social systems. Pictures, videos and the Internet resource will be used to bring students attention and help them seriously think about the issue.

Uint 4 Current policies and attitudes

From previous units, students have acknowledged that global warming is a real, on-going issue, which may cause drastic effects on our planet. In this unit, teachers will introduce the current policies and attitudes from both developed and developing countries. Discussions will be brought into the class to encourage students to compare and contrast policy/attitude differences between different countries and analyze the reasons behind from multiple aspects. Finally, different voice towards global warming will be mentioned to help students view this issue more completely.

Course Assessment

A refection paper will be assigned as the assessment for this mini course to test students' understanding and thoughts of this issue and abilities to find their solutions.