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Unit (2019)

Information on this page, including unit offerings, is from the 2019 academic year.

Carbon and Climate: A Wicked Problem (BRD203)

Organisational Unit College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Credit Points 3
Availability MURDOCH: S2-internal, S2-external
Teaching Timetables Murdoch S2
Description Due to steadily increasing concentrations in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, carbon is currently attracting considerable public interest associated with topical human issues and impacts - real and perceived. This unit describes the nature of the problem, which needs to be tackled broadly because there are no simple solutions. Scientific / technical opportunities and limitations are explored together with their economic, legal and social implications, to develop a deeper understanding of the current political controversy.
Unit Learning Outcomes On successful completion of the unit you should:
1. Have a simple understanding of the relevant chemistry of carbon dioxide and its role in photosynthesis and greenhouse effect, including basic principles of underlying scientific methods;
2. Appreciate the possible future consequences on humanity and the environment of rising carbon dioxide concentrations;
3. Be familiar with the major mitigation responses to the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and demonstrate an understanding of their inherent risks, uncertainties and trade-offs;
4. Have knowledge of the various international and national institutional responses to carbon dioxide build-up, including financial/economic, politico/legal;
5. Be aware of the measurement and main modelling techniques for atmospheric carbon dioxide and their limitations;
6. Be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the media debate over political and economic responses to carbon dioxide build-up in the atmosphere;
7. Have an integrated perspective of carbon and climate issues, with an appreciation of how multidisciplinary perspectives can contribute to the way forward;
Timetabled Learning Activities Lectures: 1 hour per week; workshops: 1 x 2 hours per week.
Unit Learning Experiences Students undertaking this Breadth Unit will be given a one-hour, weekly lecture on a particular aspect of carbon dioxide. These lectures will be delivered by a range of academics from across Murdoch University, as well as guest experts from the public and private sectors. Students will also be allocated a two-hour, weekly workshop consisting of a combination of structured (expert-led) and semi-structured (student-led) learning activities.

This Unit has multifaceted topics wherein students are exposed briefly to a vast range of disciplines focussing on the compound carbon dioxide. Different perspectives and understandings of carbon dioxide, and its environmental and social impacts, are threaded through the Unit, thus enabling a student to gain a multidisciplinary and an interdisciplinary perspective. By emphasising the 'wicked' nature of the problem, for which there are no simple solutions, an appreciation for the merit of multiple, and combined, problem-solving strategies will be developed.

The final week of this Unit will involve all teaching staff together with some outside/invited experts coming together in a Forum environment to summarise the 'issues and impacts' of carbon dioxide in a fully integrated approach. In preceding weeks students would have been provided with the opportunity (either as individuals or in groups) to develop appropriate questions.
Other Learning Experiences External students undertake home exercises, including virtual laboratory and online climate models and discuss results in online fora. Recommended readings and online material (videos, interactive models/displays).
Assessment Assessment strategy will focus on problem solving by students utilising a core factual understanding of the topic from a socio-economic as well as scientific perspective. The limitations of stand-alone disciplines in dealing with wicked problems will be illustrated through assessments requiring students to work with material from outside their own degree/major.
Feedback from the workshops and essays will be given directly by tutors with different academic backgrounds, supplementing that from peers in Group activities.

Examination: 40%
Participation in workshops: 15%
Essay: 30%
Presentation: 15%
Prerequisites Nil.
Notes This is a University-Wide Breadth Unit.
Appears in these Courses/Majors:
see individual structures for context
Primary Teaching (BEd) [New in 2014]
Internet Access RequirementsMurdoch units normally include an online component comprising materials, discussions, lecture recordings and assessment activities. All students, regardless of their location or mode of study, need to have access to and be able to use computing devices with browsing capability and a connection to the Internet via Broadband (Cable, ADSL or Mobile) or Wireless. The Internet connection should be readily available and allow large amounts of data to be streamed or downloaded (approximately 100MB per lecture recording). Students also need to be able to enter into online discussions and submit assignments online.


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