Those interested in learning more about climate science now have a free and convenient way to accomplish that with the announcement today by Professor David Archer of the University of Chicago and the folks at Real Climate of an online instructional course on the subject. Presented on the Coursera online educational platform, the 8-week class is entitled Global Warming: The Science of Climate Change.
All too often, discussions about global warming by laypeople lead to arguments about what is or isn't happening by people on both sides who really have no technical training or formal understanding of what the science really says. This new class presents an opportunity to gain that knowledge, at one's own convenience, and at no cost other than the use of a home computer and an internet connection.
According to Professor Archer, "The class is aimed at non-scientists and we try to explain the science to you in a way that will allow you to evaluate for yourself what you think about the question whether people can affect Earth's climate."
The class begins on October 25, 2013. It will be taught with the assumption that the student has no scientific knowledge and is geared toward a general audience. Other than high-school algebra and familiarity with a computer and basic spreadsheet applications, just about anyone will be able to complete the class successfully.
The class is broken down into the following sections:
- Unit 1: What is the Greenhouse Effect? (weeks 1–4)
- Unit 2: Fossil Fuels and the Carbon Cycle (weeks 5–6)
- Unit 3: The Forecast (weeks 7–8)
There will be short lecture videos with embedded quizzes and reading assignments for each section. In addition, there will be weekly problem sets, six of which rely on computer simulations of climate models, discussion groups, and optional programming assignments. Students will have the opportunity to "play" with online climate simulations developed by the instructor to see how the physics and chemistry may change what happens on Earth.
Upon successfully completing the course and passing the final exam, students will be given a Statement of Accomplishment.