Core CCS Masters Courses

The core courses outlined below constitute the foundation of the Climate Change & Society Degree. MEA 519 and GIS 510 are offered online, while MEA 517, MEA 516, ST 511 and MEA 518 are conducted in-person and online. In addition, the program requires 6 credits of elective courses.

Core Courses (Total – 28 Credit Hours) + 6 Elective credits.

MEA 517 Fundamentals of Climate Change Science presents the basic science of climate change, including chemical and physical systems and processes. The students will be introduced to how the climate system works and the role of greenhouse gases in the climate system. Students will learn about climatological data, climate models and how predictions/projections are made. Emphasis will be placed upon relating predicted/projected changes to manifestations such as sea level rise and changes in the distribution and character of precipitation. Topics include the primary climate components, ocean-atmospheric teleconnections, decadal and multi-decadal climate indices, natural and anthropogenic climate variability, and climate model projectionsMEA 517 is offered in the Fall semester.

ST 511 Statistical Methods for Researchers I provides basic concepts of statistical models and use of samples; variation, statistical measures, distributions, tests of significance, analysis of variance and elementary experimental design, regression and correlation, chi-square. This class can be used as a substitute for MEA 516 only with consultation with your advisor. ST511 is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters.

GIS 510, Fundamentals of Geospatial Information Science and Technology provides an advanced overview of how geographic information systems [GIS] facilitate data analysis and communication to address common geographic problems. Students improve spatial reasoning and problem definition expertise while emphasizing geographic data models and structures, data manipulation and storage, customization through programming, and the integration of geospatial analysis and modeling into project-based problem solving applicable to a variety of disciplines. Skilled application of both desktop and cloud-based GIS software supports these areas. Extensive independent learning and computer experiences include virtual laboratory sessions, alongside optional online or in-person weekly help sessions to facilitate student learning. GIS510 is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters.

MEA 518 Adaptation to Climate Change investigates the technological, economic, communication, scientific and legal challenges inherent to adaptation to climate change. This course provides practical hands-on experience for professionals in developing adaptation strategies in climate sensitive sectors. Content draws heavily on case studies in international development, infrastructure, health, energy, and transportation sectors. MEA518 is offered in the Spring semester.

MEA 519 Barriers to Climate Change Literacy investigates the cognitive, affective and behavioral barriers to climate literacy and the ways in which effective communication strategies can be utilized to address these challenges. Critical analysis of key aspects of climate science, common misconceptions, mental models, cultural influences, and risk perceptions about climate change will be examined. The various approaches to creating effective climate messages that appropriately address a variety of publics will be discussed where students will develop products that incorporate these methods/practices. The course will feature relevant readings and videos (See Susan Hassol’s TED talk), classroom discussions, student-led presentations, and summative and formative course feedback though course assignments and exams.
Our ACE program has focused on several communications projects, including teaching high school students about climate.


MEA 519 is offered in the Fall semester.

PA 550 Global Environmental Policy and EA 505 Environmental Assessment Law and Policy. PA 550 focuses on formation and impact of environmental policy in the U. S. Examination on decision-making processes at all levels of government. Comparisons between political, economic, social and technological policy alternatives. Emphasis upon application of policy analysis in environmental assessment and consideration on theoretical perspectives on nature of the environmental crisis. EA 505 provides students with an appreciation and understanding of the principles of environmental law and policy. Emphasis is on the US legal system and litigation process relevant to environmental law, covering topics such as: the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA], the Pollution Prevention Act [PPA], the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Throughout the course, a case study is integrated into the conceptual lecture material with the intent of providing practical examples to conceptual material. PS 536 is offered in the Spring and Summer 1. EA 505 is offered in the spring ONLY ONLINE. PA 550 is offered in the Spring.

COM 579 Climate Change Communication provides an exploration of the communication successes and failures surrounding climate change and public opinion. Topics addressed include: agenda setting, media effects, framing, data visualizations, fear responses, naming, risk communication and theory, argumentation and refutation, and persuasion as well as issues and current events related to the challenges associated with communicating climate change to multiple stakeholders. COM 579 is offered in the Spring semester.

PHI 816 Introduction to Research Ethics provides institutional rules guiding the responsible conduct of research (RCR) and their philosophical justification. Rudiments of moral reasoning and their application to RCR. Topics: plagiarism, falsification and fabrication of data, and ethics versus custom, law, science, and religion. PHI816 is offered in the Fall and Spring semesters.

EA 505 Environmental Assessment Law and Policy provides students with an appreciation and understanding of the principles of environmental law and policy. Emphasis is on the US legal system and litigation process relevant to environmental law, covering topics such as: the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA], the Pollution Prevention Act [PPA], the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act. Throughout the course, a case study is integrated into the conceptual lecture material with the intent of providing practical examples to conceptual material. EA 505 is offered in the Spring semester.

MEA 516 Climate Risk Analysis prepares students to analyze climate data to enable  decision making under uncertain climate conditions. A wide variety of observational and model generated climate data sets will be considered. Students will learn how to  present climate information in attractive and effective graphics. . The course will address observed historical trends in climate, including the underlying assumptions and statistical methods, including correlation and regression analyses, that have been used to assess such trends. . In the second half of the term focuses on spatial analysis of climate-related anomalies and trends, ensemble prediction, and its applications to climate sensitive systems. (3 credits) MEA 516 is offered in the Spring semester.

MEA 593 Special Topic Applied Climate Experience (ACE) portion of the degree. MEA 593 is completed over the Summer semester.