This course considers how physical and biological processes determine environmental conditions at the surface of the Earth, and how environments have changed over the 4.5 billion-year history of Earth. Topics include the methods of historical inference in geology; major transitions in the history of life, including the origin of life, the evolution of oxygen-producing photosynthesis, the origin of animals, and the series of massive extinctions that have repeatedly re-set ecosystems both on land and in the sea; and ecosystem evolution, including the environmental effects of human evolution. Labs involve hands-on study of rock and fossil specimens, and analysis and interpretation of datasets drawn from the scientific literature and/or faculty research programs.

Mon Wed Fri : 11:30 AM-12:20 PM