I. ASCRC General Education Form (revised 9/15/09) Use to propose new general education courses (except writing courses), to change existing gen ed courses and to remove designations for existing gen ed courses. Note: One-time-only general education designation may be requested for experimental courses (X91-previously X95), granted only for the semester taught. A NEW request must be submitted for the course to receive subsequent general education status. Group III. Language VII: Social Sciences (submit III Exception: Symbolic Systems * VIII: Ethics & Human Values separate forms IV: Expressive Arts IX: American & European if requesting V: Literary & Artistic Studies X: Indigenous & Global more than one VI: Historical & Cultural Studies XI: Natural Sciences X general w/ lab w/out lab X education group *Courses proposed for this designation must be standing requirements of designation) majors that qualify for exceptions to the modern and classical language requirement Dept/Program Geosciences Course # GEO160 Course Title Prerequisite Power of Numbers none Credits II. Endorsement/Approvals Complete the form and obtain signatures before submitting to Faculty Senate Office Please type / print name Signature 3.0 Date Instructor Phone / Email Program Chair Dean III. Type of request New X One-time Only Change Remove Reason for Gen Ed inclusion, change or deletion This is a new GLI seminar. Description of change IV. Description and purpose of new general education course: General Education courses must be introductory and foundational within the offering department or within the General Education Group. They must emphasize breadth, context, and connectedness; and relate course content to students’ future lives: See Preamble: http://umt.edu/facultysenate/archives/minutes/gened/GE_preamble.aspx Open today’s newspaper. Watch the news on TV. Read your favorite online source. Go shopping. Drive your car. Regardless of your specific choices, three common themes immediately emerge: our modern society and the issues we face are globally integrated, have important quantitative components, and are discussed using the tools of science and mathematics. Even issues without explicit scientific content regularly include statistical comparisons, order of magnitude considerations, and cost-benefit analyses. Budget deficit negotiations include arguments about foreign aid ($34 billion) and earmarks ($14 billion) in a $1.3 trillion dollar shortfall (by 2030). Without an understanding of orders of magnitude, these numbers are incomprehensible. New medical research suggests that women who drink moderately and regularly improve their chances for “successful aging” by more than 20%. Without an understanding of risk and probability, this number is useless. Gas prices are highly inversely correlated to the purchasing of SUVs and light trucks. Without an understanding of coupling and correlation, this fact is obscure. The strong influence of quantitative information in our lives mandates equally strong numeracy skills. At the same time, secondary education has shifted toward algebraic mechanics instead of quantitative reasoning, and even many college graduates profess discomfort with or outright unfamiliarity with analytical tools. This course seeks to address two coupled problems: students don’t “like” quantitative methods, and students aren’t proficient in numerical reasoning. By conveying why numbers and mathematical concepts matter in all aspects of modern life, then providing students with powerful tools to approach these issues and decisions, this course is intended to provide a basis for lifelong learning, both within and outside of the University. This course will also provide foundational skills for students’ more thorough and sophisticated exploration of big and important issues within the Global Leadership framework. V. Criteria: Briefly explain how this course meets the criteria for the group. See: http://umt.edu/facultysenate/documents/forms/GE_Criteria5-1-08.aspx Explore a disciple and demonstrate scientific This course uses case studies from a wide method range of scientific disciplines to demonstrate scientific method, quantitative analysis, and critical thinking. Students are also required to apply these techniques themselves. Address uncertainty One of the underlying course themes is the role of uncertainty in quantitative comparisons and analyses. In addition, one unit of course content is specifically directed toward the meaning of scientific uncertainty and the way it is explicitly quantified. VI. Student Learning Goals: Briefly explain how this course will meet the applicable learning goals. See: http://umt.edu/facultysenate/documents/forms/GE_Criteria5-1-08.aspx Understand quantitative principles This course is designed to provide basic quantitative literacy, both by motivating students to use quantitative information and by making them use it themselves. Understand methods Because a range of quantitative techniques are absolutely integral to the modern practice of science, introducing both the context and the methods of quantitative analysis introduces students to the basic framework of science. Detect patterns, draw conclusions, test Each set of examples and case studies is hypotheses designed to show how quantitative information can and should be used to detect patterns, rank and compare ideas, test hypotheses, and draw defensible conclusions from messy data. Understand verification By using numerical and quantitative techniques on real problems, the students will themselves experience the process of verification, so gain a clear understanding of how it works, its strengths and weaknesses, and how to implement it in novel settings. VII. Justification: Normally, general education courses will not carry pre-requisites, will carry at least 3 credits, and will be numbered at the 100-200 level. If the course has more than one pre-requisite, carries fewer than three credits, or is upper division (numbered above the 200 level), provide rationale for exception(s). N/A VIII. Syllabus: Paste syllabus below or attach and send digital copy with form. The syllabus should clearly describe how the above criteria are satisfied. For assistance on syllabus preparation see: http://teaching.berkeley.edu/bgd/syllabus.html GEO 160: The Power of Numbers Numeracy is as fundamental to our modern society as literacy, but it gets much less attention. Lots of people who would shudder at the idea of not being able to read and write willingly admit to hating math, or just avoid it quietly. At the same time, numbers, mathematics, and quantitative reasoning underpin almost all of the decisions and debates that face us every day at every level. This class will explore issues where quantitative understanding is central, such as federal budgets, the financial meltdown and recovery, medicine and epidemiology, risk, polls and statistics, and new scientific discoveries. In the process, we will develop tools and tricks for using numbers skillfully, comfortably, and powerfully. If you hate and fear math, or if you love it, this is a class for you. Course grading will be based on participation in the case studies and a final exam. For each topic, students will turn in their group exercises, where they calculate solutions to case study issues and questions. Week 1: Introduction and justification 1.1 Introduction and structure of the course 1.2 Selected case studies from current affairs Week 2: How big is big? (Orders of Magnitude) 2.1 Understanding and estimating magnitude 2.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: federal deficit, global energy budget Week 3: Take a stab at it (Fermi Problems and estimation) 3.1 The Fermi approach 3.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: Western water politics, meat eating vs. vegetarianism Week 4: What’s the point of units? (Dimensional analysis) 4.1 Introduction to dimensional analysis 4.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: scale models, why airplanes fly, bugs’ life Week 5: How do you know? (Introduction to statistics) 5.1 Common statistical methods, interpreting uncertainty 5.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: columns from the FiveThirtyEight blog Week 6: How do you know? Part 2 (Fancier statistics) 6.1 Nonparametric, multiparameter, and Monte Carlo methods 6.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: epidemiology and clusters, extinction Week 7: Watch out! (Probabilistic forecasting) 7.1 Forecasting methods 7.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: weather, earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks Week 8: What should I do? (Risk assessment and cost/benefit analysis) 8.1 risk assessment methods 8.2 case studies from the news possible topics: insurance, cat bonds, climate change Week 9: What’s the point of calculus? (basic calculus) 9.1 Introduction to differentiation and integration 9.2 Case studies possible topics: roller coaster design, fleet gas mileage Week 10: How are those related? (Nonlinearity) 10.1 Introduction to nonlinear terms 10.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: spring runoff, fish spawning, migration Week 11: What the heck just happened? (Feedbacks and emergence) 11.1 Introduction to stability analysis 11.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: global warming and the Gulf Stream, building and bridge collapse Week 12: Efficient understanding (Richness vs. precision) 12.1 Introduction to parameterization 12.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: human cognition, artificial intelligence Week 13: Numerical modeling and simulation 13.1 Modern modeling techniques 13.2 Case studies from the news possible topics: Climate models, ecology topics Week 14: Summary and exit interviews LEARNING OUTCOMES The intended outcomes for students are: Comfort with numerical and quantitative information Ability to evaluate the quality of quantitative information Ability to incorporate quantitative information into decision making Ability to incorporate quantitative information into discourse Ability to estimate realistic solutions Ability to identify faulty or misleading quantitative information Basic literacy in a wide range of fundamental numerical techniques Understanding of the role of quantitative information in current issues The efficacy of instruction with respect to these outcomes will be assessed using the group problem sets, the final examination, and both group and individual exit interviews. Any identifiable problems with acquisition of the intended outcomes will be addressed by changes to subsequent iterations of the course. Please note: Approved general education changes will take effect next fall. General education instructors will be expected to provide sample assessment items and corresponding responses to the Assessment Advisory Committee.