Research & Teaching

This is a new course with a limited number of seats to be filled by students from multiple disciplines (law, business, engineering, policy, public health) who will together design and study practical solutions for reducing the use of fossil fuels in the U.S. and abroad.

Lobbying is often called the 4th branch of government since this multi-billion dollar industry significantly impacts policymaking.

What’s the right carbon price? What can whale oil and horse manure teach us today? What’s the role of solar geoengineering?

Rapid human population growth and even more rapid growth in consumption are driving a transformation of most of Earth’s natural systems including its climate system, its oceans, land cover, biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity, and coastal and fresh water systems.  These systems underpin global fo

This course aims to place current and anticipated changes in climate into the context of past events in Earth's history.  Current variations in temperature, precipitation, and sea level are examined in the context of events such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, greening of the Sahara, and

This course deals with major changes in climate and environment affecting humans, and the various ways in which Near Eastern societies have endured, mastered, or destroyed themselves, from an ecological perspective.

The reality of global climate change poses a number of challenges for human society.

Climate change, urbanization, and conflict mean that global disasters are on the rise.  How should the world respond when disasters force people from their homes?  How can we better help the world’s refugees?  This course examines the past, present, and future of the international humanitarian re

Global Health has emerged as a distinctive field in the last two decades, replacing older conceptions of International Health, Geographic Medicine, and Tropical Medicine.

Climate change is one of the most difficult problems facing humanity. A small sample of questions to be asked and answers attempted in this seminar includes the following. How do we analyze and decide what to “do” about climate change?

Atmospheric radiative transfer, including stellar properties, spectroscopy, gray and real gas calculations, Mie theory and scattering, satellite retrievals, and radiative-convective climate modelling.

Study of water as a critical resource and as a factor in Earth surface and near-surface processes. Focus on development of relevant mechanics and physics. Hydrologic cycle, surface and groundwater, evapotranspiration, soil physics.

This module will prepare students to engage in the policy debate surrounding the adaptation to the risks of an uncertain future climate in the industrialized and developing nations.

The module will examine the evolution of multilateral attempts to address climate change. The primary focus will be on mitigation (i.e., emissions reduction), but we will consider policy for adaptation, climate finance, and geoengineering, as well.

Growing income inequality, poor or declining educational systems, unequal access to affordable health care and the fear of continuing economic distress are putting stress on political systems worldwide and challenging the credibility of business.

Survey of foundations and applications of the modern theory of environmental and natural-resource economics. What are the basic models and what are they suggesting about policy? Externalities, public goods, common property, strategies for controlling pollution.

The seminar will provide a historical perspective on the development of the Chinese economy with emphasis on the energy sector, including analysis of related environmental problems.

Fundamental physics and chemistry underlying the science and technology of aerosols. Taught by reference to topical problems in atmospheric chemistry, planetary climates, human health, and technologies of nanofabrication.
Note: Offered in alternate years.

In this course a framework of tropospheric chemistry will be generated that requires no previous knowledge of this topic. The goal is to develop an understanding of chemical and physical processes in the troposphere.

Atmospheric radiative transfer, including stellar properties, spectroscopy, gray and real gas calculations, Mie theory and scattering, satellite retrievals, and radiative-convective climate modelling.

A solution to the problems set by the intersection of global energy demand and climate feedbacks requires the teaching of physics and chemistry in that context.

Observations and understanding of ocean physics, from local beach waves to the effects of the oceans on global climate.  Topics covered include wave motions such as ocean surface waves, internal waves, tsunamis and tides; currents, including the wind driven circulation, and the Gulf stream; coast

Environmental issues have become increasingly significant in democratic politics and are now a salient issue of global politics, with climate change occupying central stage today.

This course examines future climate change in the context of earth history, and then considers various strategies for what might be done to deal with it.

The climate of our planet is changing at a rate unprecedented in human history. Primarily responsible is the build-up of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, most notably carbon dioxide emitted in conjunction with the combustion of coal, oil and natural gas.  Concentrations in the atmosphere of

This course explores specific principles from cognitive science that have important implications for instructional approach and curriculum design.

This course will examine future climate change in the context of Earth history, and then consider various strategies for what might be done to deal with it.

Physical and chemical processes determining the composition of the atmosphere and its implications for climate, ecosystems, and human welfare. Construction of atmospheric composition models. Atmospheric transport. Nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon cycles.

Physical concepts necessary to understand atmospheric structure and motion. Phenomena studied include the formation of clouds and precipitation, solar and terrestrial radiation, dynamical balance of the large-scale wind, and the origin of cyclones.

Introduction to the mechanics of fluids and solids, organized around earth and environmental phenomena. Conservation laws, stress, deformation and flow. Inviscid fluids and ocean gravity waves; Coriolis dominated large scale flows.

Human activity is changing the atmosphere and altering terrestrial and marine ecosystems on a global scale. Evidence is mounting that these changes may already be having serious effects on human health, and there is growing concern that in coming decades the effects could be catastrophic.

Human activity is changing the atmosphere and altering terrestrial and marine ecosystems on a global scale for the first time in history.

This course offers a comprehensive overview of gaseous and particulate air pollutants. It will emphasize pollutant sources, physical and chemical properties, sampling and analysis, chemical transformation, atmospheric transport, fate, and potential for adverse health and environmental impacts.

In this course, we explore the development of our modern food production and distribution system and its effects on our environment and planet. We critically review published studies and other assessments that evaluate the environmental and social impact of food-related products and processes.

A comprehensive introduction to global geophysics. This course serves as a bridge between introductory Earth science courses (EPS 21, EPS 22) and higher level courses in EPS.

After a review of what is currently known about greenhouse gas emissions’ possible impact on climate and of how such knowledge is acquired, the seminar will explore the possible impact of climate change on social and economic conditions over the next century.  Participants will investigate possib

A solution to the problems set by the intersection of global energy demand and climate feedbacks requires the teaching of physics and chemistry in that context.

The story of Earth from the inception of the universe at the Big Bang to the revolution in planetary function and capability associated with the rise of human civilization.

War, disaster, drought, or famine force people to flee their land. Climate change is contributing to many of these factors.

Overview of the basic features of the climate system (global energy balance, atmospheric general circulation, ocean circulation, and climate variability) and the underlying physical processes.

Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, claim thousands of lives and cause tens of billions of dollars in damage each year.

On December 12, 2015, the United Nations climate talks in Paris reached a historic milestone when more than 190 countries adopted the first accord that calls on all countries to join the fight against global warming.

Survey of foundations and applications of the modern theory of environmental and natural-resource economics. What are the basic models and what are they suggesting about policy? Externalities, public goods, common property, strategies for controlling pollution.

This course examines how natural and anthropogenic changes in the earth system are affecting the composition and the functioning of the world’s land and ocean ecosystems.

Global change ecology is the line of scientific inquiry that integrates the responses of organisms, ecosystems, and their environments with changes in human activity and climate.

Introduces the fundamentals of water biology, chemistry, physics and transport processes needed to understand water quality and water purification technologies. Practical instruction in basic water analyses concluding with a final water treatment project in place of exam. 


Basic concepts, principles, and applications of environmental chemistry for students in Earth and environmental sciences.

Study of water as a critical resource and as a factor in Earth surface and near-surface processes. Focus on development of relevant mechanics and physics. Hydrologic cycle, surface and groundwater, evapotranspiration, soil physics.

The physical processes responsible for sea level changes over time scales extending from hours to hundreds of millions of years. Long-term sea-level trends: geological observations, physical mechanisms and eustasy, dynamic topography.

This course provides an introduction to the physical and chemical impacts of energy choices on human society and natural ecosystems.

An introduction to low temperature biogeochemistry. We will focus on key biogeochemical elements and look to understand the linkages between the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere.

Chemical transport models: principles, numerical methods. Inverse models: Bayes’ theorem, optimal estimation, Kalman filter, adjoint methods. Analysis of environmental data: visualization, time series analysis, Monte Carlo methods, statistical assessment.

The atmosphere understood as a fluid dynamical system. Observations of atmospheric motions related to weather and climate. Application of the equations of atmospheric dynamics to explaining phenomena such as jet streams, cyclones, and fronts.

Climate and climate variability phenomena and dynamical mechanisms over multiple time scales, using dynamical system tools and a hierarchical modeling approach.

Topics in low-temperature geochemistry, oceanography, and climatology will be discussed. Students will read and present journal articles on relevant topics, and will rotate responsibility for leading discussions.

Atmospheric physics and chemistry: stratospheric and tropospheric transport, photochemistry, and aerosols; stratospheric ozone loss, tropospheric pollution; biogeochemical cycles.

Introduction to biological and organic chemistry of the Earth’s environment. Primary focus on formation, processing, and preservation of organic carbon, with emphasis on paleoenvironmental applications and on processes occurring at the molecular level.

The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is now the highest it has been in at least 800,000 years, raising concerns regarding possible future climate changes. This seminar will survey the science of global change from the perspective of scientific debates within the climate community.

Physical concepts necessary to understand atmospheric structure and motion. Phenomena studied include the formation of clouds and precipitation, solar and terrestrial radiation, dynamical balance of the large-scale wind, and the origin of cyclones.

Observations and understanding of ocean physics, from local beach waves to the effects of the oceans on global climate.  Topics covered include wave motions such as ocean surface waves, internal waves, tsunamis and tides; currents, including the wind driven circulation, and the Gulf stream; coast

This course introduces students to the fluid Earth, emphasizing Earth's weather and climate, the carbon cycle, and global environmental change.

Forests cover nearly one third of the earth's land surface area. They provide a vast range of products and services to human civilization, and are important for economic and cultural reasons. This class will provide students with an introduction to the biology and ecology of forest ecosystems.

Human activity is changing the atmosphere and altering terrestrial marine ecosystems on a global scale. Evidence is mounting that these changes may already be having serious effects on human health, and there is growing concern that in coming decades the effects could be catastrophic.

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Harvard University
Center for the Environment

NEW! Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Email: huce@environment.harvard.edu
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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