Undergraduate Courses

- Non-Science Majors

Primarily intended for students not concentrating in one of the natural sciences.

To see which courses are being offered Spring 2016, click here.

From surprise over the need to invoke Dark Matter and Dark Energy, to confusion about Pluto’s being reclassified as a non-planet, this course explores how scientists explain our place in the physical universe, by focusing on some of the most current issues in modern astronomy. Topics range from the solar system, to extraterrestrial life, to the fabric of the entire universe.

  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit in the Natural Sciences (without lab)
  • Weekly discussion section

Professor Mendillo. 4 cr.

Sample syllabus:  Mendillo – Spring 2015

The historical development of astronomy and the motion of the planets. The formation of the solar system. The sun and its effects on the earth. Description of the planets and the moons of our solar system including recent results from the space program.

  • Offered every semester
  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit in the Natural Sciences
  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit as a Laboratory Science
  • Use of the J.B. Coit Observatory

Professors Clarke, Espaillat, Hughes, Oppenheim, and Withers. 4 cr.

Sample syllabi:  Espaillat – Fall 2015 Muirhead – Spring 2016

The birth and death of stars. Red Giants, white dwarfs, black holes. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, and other galaxies. The Big Bang and other cosmological theories of our expanding universe.

  • Offered every semester
  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit in the Natural Sciences
  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit as a Laboratory Science
  • Use of the J.B. Coit Observatory

Professors Bania, Brainerd, Clemens, Jackson, Martinis, and Opher. 4 cr.

Sample syllabi:  Clemens – Fall 2014 Hudon – Spring 2016

Examination of worlds within and outside our solar system. History of NASA and other space explorations. Discovery and properties of hundreds of planets around other stars. Possibility of life on other worlds. Students use telescopes to observe our solar system. Also see Alien Worlds.

  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit in the Natural Sciences (without lab)
  • Use of the J.B. Coit Observatory

Muirhead 4 cr.

Sample syllabus:  Muirhead – Spring 2016

About 10% of the planets in our Milky Way galaxy are like Earth in size and material composition. Physical laws covered in this course operate everywhere, so life may be both common and technologically advanced. Where is everybody?

  • Cannot be taken for credit in addition to CAS AS 117
  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit in the Natural Sciences (without lab)

Professor Bania. 4 cr. Fall.

Sample syllabus:  Bania – Fall 2015

The evolution of cosmological thought from prehistory to the present: Greek astronomy, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. Motion, gravity, and the nature of space-time. The expanding universe. The early universe and Big Bang.

  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit in the Natural Sciences (without lab)
  • Use of the J.B. Coit Observatory

Professors Blanton, Brainerd, Jackson, and Marscher. 4 cr.

Sample syllabus:  Marscher – Fall 2015

Physical and chemical evolution of the universe from its origins to the present, from simple to complex. Stellar evolution. Planetary formation and evolution. Origin of life. The rise of civilization and technology. The future of humankind. Search for extraterrestrial life.

  • Cannot be taken for credit in addition to CAS AS 107
  • Carries Divisional Studies Credit in the Natural Sciences (without lab)

Professor Bania. 4 cr. Fall.

Sample syllabus:  Bania – Fall 2010