GEOL-0820 CGS: Natural Disasters Spring, 2014


Instructor: Prof. Michael Ramsey
Office: SRCC, room 509/511
Office Phone: 624-8772
Email: mramsey@pitt.edu
Office Hours: Tu, Th 1:30pm - 2:30pm


1. Objective: To understand the geological and natural processes that affect the human environment in catastrophic ways. Natural disasters are commonly exacerbated when intensive human activity expands into hazardous zones. Each type of hazard will be examined in terms of science, prediction, mitigation, avoidance, and public policy/safety issues.


2. Required Textbooks:

"NATURAL DISASTERS (9th edition), GEOL-0820 version", by P.L. Abbott. McGraw Hill Publishing (ISBN 978-1-4652-4131-3), 2013.


"NATURAL DISASTERS: Recitation Manual (2nd edition)", by M.S. Ramsey. Kendall Hunt Publishing (ISBN 978-1-4652-4131-3), 2013.


3. Lecture Time: Tues evenings from 6:00 pm - 8:50 pm in Thaw 203. Note that I will lecture for 45-50 minute and then give a 10 minute break. Attendance is strongly encouraged at all scheduled class meetings. Much of the exam material will be derived from the class notes and video presentations; therefore attendance is beneficial to your grade.


4. Course Requirements: The goal of this course should be an interesting and interactive experience. Knowing the fundamentals and learning to think objectively will give you a framework to appreciate the landscape around you and understand the natural disasters that impact our lives. However, this class does require you memorize information and work in pairs/groups during the recitation. Overall, it is a lot of work!

  • Exams: There will be two mid-term and one final examination (non-cumulative). Each exam will be multiple-choice questions, which will be based on material covered in the lectures, videos and assigned reading. Make-up exams will NOT be given for the mid-term exams because you are allowed to drop your lowest score. If there is an extreme circumstance, please talk to me (see grading policy below)!

  • Recitations: During the last hour of most weeks, we will break from lecture and use that time for recitation. Each recitation will be an in-depth discussion relating to the material covered in lecture, which could include laboratory assignments, computer exercises, videos, etc. Grades compiled for each recitation section will comprise 35% of your total for the course (see below). You MUST attend the recitation hour to receive credit and there will be NO make-up recitations - if you miss the recitation that week, you will get a 0 for that exercise!

    NOTE: RECITATION WILL NOT MEET THE WEEK OF JAN 6th


5. Grading: Your final grade will be based on your performance on the three exams, the score in the recitation, and in-class participation. The grade will be calculated using the following break-down: Mid-term Exam = 30%, Final Exam = 30%, Recitation = 35%, Class Participation = 5%. I will drop the lowest of the two mid-term exam grades, but not the final. This will give you the chance to recover from a poor performance and minimize the need for any make-up exams. If a curve is needed, it will be based on the final average of the entire class and equal to a median score of a C+/B-. Therefore, the curve (and thus the letter grades) will not be decided until the end of the term. So, please do not ask me what the curve was after each exam!


6. Web Site: The site is located at http://ivis.eps.pitt.edu/courses/cgs0820/ and will contain the syllabus, announcements and assignments for the class. I tend to revise the class schedule as the term progresses, so please check there for the most current class information.


7. Disability Resources: If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Office of Disability Resources and Services, 216 William Pitt Union, 412-648-7890 / 412-383-7355 (FTY), as early as possible in the term. Disability Resources and Services will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.


8. Academic Integrity: Cheating/plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students suspected of violating the University of Pittsburgh Policy on Academic Integrity, noted below, will be required to participate in the outlined procedural process as initiated by the instructor. A minimum sanction of a zero score for the quiz, exam or paper will be imposed.


9. E-mail Communication Policy: Each student is issued a University e-mail address (username@pitt.edu) upon admittance. This e-mail address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read e-mail sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an e-mail forwarding service that allows students to read their e-mail via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students that choose to forward their e-mail from their pitt.edu address to another address do so at their own risk. If e-mail is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University e-mail address. To forward e-mail sent to your University account, go to http://accounts.pitt.edu, log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished (for the full E-mail Communication Policy, go to: http://www.bc.pitt.edu/policies/policy/09/09-10-01.html).


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This page last updated: Tuesday, 25-Mar-2014 11:19:11 EDT