Course code:



M - Intermediate

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • ES - Environmental Science

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Upon occasion

In this course students will learn to make place-based observations of landscapes to consider the processes shaping them. Various climatic and tectonic processes such as erosion and active mountain building are continuously shaping Earth’s diverse landscapes. Humans and other organisms are also shaping and reshaping the Earth’s near surface and have been for at least thousands of years. We can describe these geomorphic processes both qualitatively and quantitatively in order to understand the rates and timescales over which different landscapes develop and evolve. Our descriptions and interpretations of evolving landscapes enable thoughtful interaction and inhabitation. Students will learn about the processes forming and shaping landscapes through both the interpretation of their own local observations as well as an exploration of prior accounts. We are fortunate to have a rich record of people’s interactions and considerations of the landscape of coastal Maine spanning thousands of years. Students will engage with different accounts of the regional landscape through readings, maps, and engagement with community members. We will also compare aspects of this region’s iconic glacially-carved coastal landscape with that of other similarly formed landscapes that are currently located in different geographic, climatic, tectonic, and built environments and therefore exposed to different active processes. Students will learn methods of determining the rates of landscape-shaping processes in order to consider the role of human activities in landscape change. By combining different types of temporal and spatial information, students will learn to identify regional hazards such as mass-wasting events (landslides, debris flows, rock falls, etc.), flooding and coastal erosion. Students will be evaluated based on their performance on weekly assignments and a final project in which students choose one specific coastal Maine location to study. As we will engage with various materials describing landscapes throughout the term (i.e. narrative accounts, maps, scientific reports), this project will be an opportunity for students to practice place-based communication. This course does not have any prerequisites, but a college-level introductory geoscience course is recommended; this course will make use of algebra, GIS-online software, and digital spreadsheets (using Excel or similar software).


This course does not have any prerequisites, but a college-level introductory geoscience course is recommended.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.