Our Earth: Its Climate, History, and Processes

Develop a greater appreciation for how the air, water, land, and life formed and have interacted over the last 4.5 billion years.

About The Course

This course focuses on a basic science understanding that demonstrates how the processes on Earth (including biological processes) lead to natural climate changes that have shaped the planet and the path of evolution. Students are challenged to think of the Earth as an integrated system made up on water, air, ice, land, and life.  

For example, students learn that the Gulf Stream is not the cause of western Europe’s temperate climate. They also learn that the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere 2.5 billion years ago produced massive extinctions of life on Earth that forever altered the dominant types of single-celled life.  Students are exposed to how new scientific discoveries are made through the observations that led to plate tectonics, how the Moon formed, and why dinosaurs went extinct.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, copies of the texts (most of which can be obtained for free), and the time to think deeply about how the Earth has developed over 4.5 billion years.

  • What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class? The rising Himalayas 30-60 million years ago led to a gradual cooling of the planet, culminating in the most recent Ice Age.
  • OK, that was cool.  Can I have another one?

    Without life on Earth, there would be less than half of the existing types of minerals on the planet.

Recommended Background

There is no recommended background content.  The course is open to anyone.