Teaching - Selected Courses

We collaborate with the Oklahoma Mesonet on a number of projects. Learn about Mesonet's weather information and data for research and teaching purposes (Mesonet Flyer).

GEOG 4963/5963: Natural Resource Economics

This course focuses on natural resource management and policy instruments for optimizing resource use and allocation. Natural resources on Earth are classified as:

  1. Renewable resources (wind, sunlight, tides, waves, biomass, geothermal heat) and
  2. Non-renewable resources (fossil fuels, minerals).
Some resources are difficult to classify, for example vivid debates are being held about water and timber resources and their longevity. Mankind has been depleting natural resources for decades, while rapid urbanization and population growth put tremendous stress and pressure on limited and non-replenishable resources. The main question nowadays is how to effectively and economically protect natural resources and optimize their use nowadays and maintain those resources for future generations. This course provides answers to those questions and addresses practical measures and policy regulations that can help with achieving the goal of sustainability in resource protection and allocation.

GEOG 5253: Economics of Sustainability

For the last three decades, sustainable development has been promoted as a major goal of societal development. Providing a balance between economic, environmental, and social aspects of human activities is a challenging issue. Economics of sustainability is decisive to the success or failure of projects and policies. But how can we actually measure sustainability and its respective components? How do we evaluate them to be able to assess if a project/policy is sustainable? What approaches and techniques can we use to encompass sustainability in its entirety? The course provides answers to those questions based on sustainability theory and practical real-world examples. The course uses a problem-based learning approach and helps students gain hands-on experience by working on relevant economic and environmental problems in Oklahoma. Guest lectures and field trips expose students to applied examples of sustainability concepts in the Norman area and practical ways of measuring sustainability.

Class trip to Oklahoma City Sustainability Office and visit at a solar plant in OKC, March 2016

GEOG 5143: Ecosystem Services

This course addresses economic and environmental aspects of ecosystem services that are defined as benefits that humanity obtains from natural and managed ecosystems. Ecosystem services include, among others, a) provisioning of goods like food, wood, water, minerals and energy, b) regulating services, e.g., CO2 sequestration, climate regulation and pest/disease control, c) supporting services such as nutrient cycles, crop pollination, and d) cultural services such as science and education, recreation, and tourism. Ecosystems services have become relevant in political and scientific debates, especially in the face of diminishing natural resources. The course teaches economic and environmental methods and approaches for measuring, evaluating, and monetizing ecosystem services. Placing a monetary value on ecosystem services (and natural resources) can help policy makers, stakeholders and communities to optimize resource management and support sustainable decision making in the long term.

Results of student group work in class, Fall 2016

GEOG 4953-2: Capstone in Geography, GIS and Environmental Sustainability

The main goals of the capstone class for each student are as follows:

  1. Conduct an original and individual research project. The research project in this class is for each student to show what they have learned in their major field and how they can apply this knowledge and skills to select, design, and implement the project.
  2. Learn about professional norms and approaches to be successful in a job market and work place. Invited speakers, discussions, and assignments will help students learn and be better prepared for the job market after graduation.

Capstone poster presentations, Spring 2017

GEOG 4970/5970: OU Presidential Dream Course: 'Water for a Thirsty World'

One of the Millennium Development Goals identified by the United Nations Development Program set forth a 50% reduction of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Water is crucial for proper functioning of each household, sector and economy around the world. Due to the growing population, global water demand is estimated to increase by 46% between 2000 and 2050 (UN, 2014; OECD, 2012). At the same time, excessive aquifer depletion and unexpected weather events like drought in many regions of the world confront mankind with an urgent question how to use shrinking water resources in a responsible way to conserve and sustain them for future generations. Furthermore, what are the most cost-effective approaches and technologies and how can regional and national policies foster sustainable water use in the long-term? This course addresses those highly relevant problems with a wide range of diversified perspectives and experiences provided by the invited speakers and course instructors. The course comprises four main areas:

  1. Water-Energy-Food Nexus and the impact of different water users (agriculture, industry sector, municipalities, etc.) on water resource availability.
  2. Impacts of climate variability on water availability around the world and what actions can be taken to mitigate water scarcity.
  3. Three main ways of solving the defined problems, such as Economics, Policies and Technologies and how they can be designed to support sustainable water use.
  4. Practical examples from different countries around the world to show regional water problems and proven methods of solving them.

The course features guest lectures by distinguished guest speakers from the US and Europe to bring their specialized and diverse perspectives and experiences on the addressed water problems and approaches for solving them in a sustainable way.