Getting Dirty: The science and practice of covering the environment

Bernardo Motta's picture
Course number: 
PDP 150
Bernardo H. Motta
Bridgewater College
Course Description: 

Description of the first-year seminar: 

PDP 150 Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts (3 Credits)

This course is taught in the style of a seminar: a small group of students learn critical thinking skills through discussion, debate, peer review and brainstorming. Course content varies from section to section, and incoming students rank topic preferences and then are assigned to a section. PDP 150 focuses specifically on two key areas of personal development: (1) intellectual growth is stimulated through systematic critical questioning, and (2) a sense of community involvement and responsibility is developed through classroom group work, collaborative learning, and a class community engagement project. The course also contains success skill exercises and college orientation information including an introduction to the portfolio program.


Description of "Getting Dirty: The science and practice of covering the environment" ​(2 sections)

“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,” Henry Thoreau wrote in Walden.

Students in this course will heed his advice and "get dirty" in the field while they work with scientists and practitioners to learn how they collect and interpret data on environmental issues. Students will also interview experts, advocates, and politicians to understand how they acquire information, make decisions, plan, and take action on environment-related issues. Finally, students will talk with top environmental reporters to learn how journalists gather information and report on different topics using a variety of skills, techniques, and equipment. Topics discussed in this course include, but are not limited to: food, pollution, air and fresh water quality, world oceans, biodiversity, population, natural resources management, weather, natural disasters, energy, industrial production, commerce, tourism, consumption, environmental justice (legal, political, social and economic issues), outdoor activities and adventure sports, wild life, conservation, and animal domestication.