*Earth's Natural Disasters - NS 2213

Course Overview:
This course will explore various types of natural events that lead to loss of human life and property, the underlying causes of these events and where they are likely to happen, and identify the kinds of things people can do to mitigate, prevent, respond to and recover from them.

In addition to learning about natural disasters, we will try connect what we know with pragmatic and personal actions to help ourselves and others deal with the array of natural disaster risks that we face.

This course will be delivered solely through MyCourses (moodle). All material and resources will be provided either in the text or linked in MyCourses.

Course Materials:

Natural Disasters, Patrick L Abbott. 8th Edition. January 31, 2011 | ISBN-10: 0073369373 | ISBN-13: 978-0073369372 |
Additionally, students are required to have the following:

  • Webcam
  • Microphone (headset preferred)
  • Internet access (broadband preferred)
  • Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome
  • An open mind
  • A willingness to learn independently.

All assignments are due at 11:55pm (Central Time Zone) on the day listed. A clock set to the current Central Time is provided at the top of the main course page for your convenience.

Preparatory/Exploratory Essays: 10 pts each (60 pts total) The preparatory or exploratory essay prompt serves as a basic guide to acquiring important information for the week. The key to doing great work here is to do the work to make sure that you: 1) understand and can clearly explain the cause and effects of the hazard/disaster we are discussing. If you can't explain it, you don't really understand it. 2) figure out the links between the physical event that happens and the number (population) and way (culture) people live in the wake of the event. This is pretty significant to whether it's a hazard or a disaster. 3) figure out what it would take to survive in the face of this hazard. It might help to think about this in terms of Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: physiological needs (food, water, air, sanitation), safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization. You will articulate your basic understanding of this information in a short essay (about 750 words or three pages) in length. Your articulation should be your own. I want to see what you understand about the topic at hand after you do some research. That means don't cut and paste from the web, instead, read and understand and tell me what you understand. Be sure to cite the sources of your information at the end of your essay in a Works Consulted section and quote and cite any material you insert in your paper. The link on the course site submits your work to Turnitin.com*. If you fail to credit your sources appropriately, you will may receive no credit for your work.
DUE: each Monday by 11:55pm (except Week 1)

*Turnitin.com only accepts word documents. If you do not have access to Microsoft Word, please work in GoogleDocs, download as a Word document (.doc or .docx) and then upload to Turnitin.com

Online Discussions: 10 pts (60 pts total) You will further explore the topic in collaboration with a small group of people in the course (Learning Triad, which I'll put you in prior to Week 1). Your participation in online dialogue is a key component in assisting you to build more meaningful knowledge of the subject. You should demonstrate a willingness to contribute to the growth of others and an earnest graciousness in allowing others to contribute to yours. Remember, greatness is achieved in community, not in isolation. At a minimum each person should contribute at least five (5) meaningful posts. You will need to post at least once by end of the day on Monday, three times by end of the day on Wednesday and all five times by end of the day on Thursday. This works most effectively if one person starts the conversation each week (trade around on this) and the others help carry the conversation.
DUE: each Thursday at 11:55pm

Resilience/Disaster Prep Blog/Vlog: 12 pts (72 pts total) Your video blog (4 minutes maximum) or blog post (400 words maximum) should discuss the importance of living in a resilient community in the face of natural hazards/events that can lead to disasters and how you can contribute to making yourself and your community more resilient. Post a link to your video or blog post here as a new discussion topic. Be sure to make your post a link that opens in a new window.

Students are encouraged to engage as a community of learners by commenting on other's videos or blogs. It's okay to agree or disagree, but please be respectful of other's views. I find it's helpful to raise questions rather than saying "I agree." Something more appropriate might be, "But what about..." While discussion is certainly encouraged, you need only post an initial post. No points are awarded for responses. You are encouraged engage in the discussion either on the blog or as a video response/comment on YouTube.

You can see how this assignment will be assessed by looking at the Blog/Vlog Rubric
DUE: each Friday at 11:55pm (except week 1)

Learning Log: 10 pts (60 pts total) The learning log is a reflective activity with a few different purposes. First, you will reflect on what you have really learned each week in the course. That is a key component to stabilizing your learning. When you do this, it will also help me identify the overall state of learning in the course and the topics that interest people. Second, you will discuss what helped you learn and what hindered your learning. This is useful to you in that when you articulate those kinds of things, you can make some changes that will help you learn better. It is useful to me, because it helps me tweak the course environment to make it more useful and constructive for you. Finally, you will record your questions...what do you wish you knew more about. Often, these questions become “unfinished business” for you and direct ongoing learning either inside or beyond they class. They may in fact shape your career aspirations in surprising ways. They also help me shape subsequent editions of the course in order to make it better every time.
DUE: each Sunday 11:55pm

Major Project: (50pts total) You must choose a disaster more than 5 years old and research that particular event. This could be something like The Galveston Hurricane, Krakatoa, The New Madrid Earth Quake, The 2006 Sumatran Quake/Tsunami, etc. You are not limited here, but it must be a natural disaster in the context of our classroom discussions (although it doesn't mean we had to have talked about your disaster, only the type). You will research and include the following information:

  • The cause of the disaster (the science). Why did this event occur? (10 pts)
  • What specific things happened (the human condition) that would cause us to classify this as a natural disaster? How many people were displaced? How many people were killed? What was the total cost of this event? Who paid for this? (10 pts)
  • New science that came from this event (the new science). What did we think we knew before, but now know differently afterwards? (10 pts)
  • How could the human population (the resilience factor) be better prepared to cope with an event like this in the future? (10 pts)
  • Presentation, grammar, punctuation, and quality of thought. (10 pts)

Your page should include, but is not limited to the following:

  1. Embedded video x2 - if you don't know what embedded is (vs. linked) I recommend you find out
  2. Embedded Google Presentation - please see note on previous statement
  3. Your own words, with limited quotes - everything should be cited. If you didn't think the original thought, CITE IT! To cover the information above, you should plan on writing something like 1000 words. That's approximately 3 double spaced pages. 
  4. Your list of sources (minimum of 5) - Be careful. This may NOT include wikipedia as a source, but that is a great place to find resources. Check the bottom of the every wikipedia page. It has a huge list of sources! This doesn't mean that you have 5 resources listed. This means you list the 5 resources THAT YOU USE. If you don't use the source, don't list it. The list of resources must be in APA format.
  5. Images with proper credit (i.e. Image courtesy of...) Images are good. Don't include images just to include them. Look for images that add to your topic.
  6. **optional** you may create some kind of multimedia artifact (video, screencast, original music, poetry, play, etc. that pertains to your event/disaster. This should be original. This is over and above the things listed in #1-5. I'm all for creativity, but don't try to get extra credit if you didn't meet the minimum requirements. If you choose to do this, be sure I know this is something you have created. I would hate to not give you credit for something you worked hard on. This will be the kind of thing that can push you from a C to a B or from a B to an A. It's the icing on the cake
Use this rubric to gain a clearer understanding of how this will be graded. 
DUE: Sunday of Week 6