AU Options – Geology 313 – Our Physical Resources

Geology 313 – Our Physical Resources, ?explores the nature and uses of numerous physical resources.? This senior-level science class has no prerequisites, and thus attracts a wide range of students.

Dr. Ken Munyikwa is an Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences, and currently coordinates Geology 313. ?Our Physical Resources examines the occurrence and exploitation of major Earth resources used by modern society, including energy, metallic resources, non-metallic resources, water, and soil,? he says. ?In addition to highlighting the geological Earth as the ultimate source of most (if not all) materials used by humans, the course draws attention to the deleterious effects associated with the exploitation of natural resources.?

And though Geology 313 is most definitely a science course, the knowledge it imparts can make it a valuable elective for all students. ?The quality of life in modern society is inexorably linked to the voracious exploitation of natural resources,? says Dr. Munyikwa. ?There are few professions or pursuits in life that involve activities unrelated to the consumption of materials. Hence, skills and knowledge acquired from GEOL313 are applicable in many fields of human endeavour and should be invaluable to any graduate.?

Michelle Bonnier, a recent AU graduate, agrees. ?I think it was important to learn a lot of the material just for everyday life?things like how oil is refined and where it comes from, and our other geological resources,? she says. ?It made me feel like I got a broader view of the world.?

Bonnier enrolled in the class to help add variety to her program. ?I needed another senior-level science credit,? she says, but ?was running out of options.? Since her ?entire degree revolved around human biological sciences,? Our Physical Resources piqued her interest.

Bonnier’s favourite aspect of the course was its logical structure and organization. ?It was very clearly laid out?you went through all the different geological processes . . . It was great getting to learn more about how it all works,? she says.

Bonnier took five months to complete the course, writing her final exam after four months, and handing in her final paper afterward. ?Had it not been at the end of my degree, having fewer courses (I consistently balanced six courses at once) made it possible to finish quickly,? she says, ?but I have no doubt it would have normally taken me the full six months.?

According to Bonnier, the course covers a massive amount of information. Her least favourite part of the course ?was probably the amount of work with the density of the assignments, plus a mid-term, final and paper. The whole course was a lot of work.?

But even though ?the assignments were a bit long,? she explains, they really did help to review all of the concepts and material.

Having completed the course, she reflects that ?it definitely is a science credit I would recommend to others,? and that while ?not insanely difficult,? it is very challenging. ?It does take dedication, more than other classes,? she says.

Students with a weaker science background are not likely to experience undue difficulty, however. ?We see students from both science and non-science backgrounds thriving in the course and the feedback we get is most reassuring,? says Dr. Munyikwa. ?It appeals to a broad spectrum of students.?

And in addition to appealing to a great range of students, Dr. Munyikwa believes that Our Physical Resources is a course that can benefit all students. ?This is a very informative course and I encourage all students at the university level to contemplate doing it,? he says. ?The topics covered are not only instructive, but they help train graduates with a heightened awareness of the origins of the materials they use in their daily lives as well as of issues related to the exploitation of Earth resources. These are topics whose importance has increased steadily over the last few decades and will continue in the future.?