GEOG 406: Natural Hazards and Environmental Risk


Natural Environmental Systems, Meteorology


GEOG 101 or GEOG 105 or GEOG 306 or GEOL 120 or consent of the department.

Course Description

This course investigates how the normal processes of the earth-atmospheric system concentrate their energies and deal disastrous blows to humans and their structures. Geophysical processes such as earthquakes, floods, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, tornadoes, and/or windstorms are explored; more focused discussion on a few distinct hazards that are commonplace in the U.S. will dominate the latter half of the semester. We will examine the spatial and temporal factors of these hazards, the physical earth-atmosphere system processes that create these hazards, and the societal aspects that affect and, in many cases, compound the disasters associated with these phenomenon. A great deal of time will be spent discussing human and physical vulnerabilities, risk, and how to reduce the impact of disasters. Historical and contemporary case studies will be utilized to investigate the interaction between society and “natural” hazards. The course is designed to be flexible to permit exploration of current events and disasters as they occur.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the physical processes that create various “natural” hazards.
  • Recognize the risks and impacts associated with those hazards.
  • Explain the social processes that make some regions more prone to disaster.
  • Identify human induced changes to the landscape that can escalate disaster risk potential.
  • Analyze solutions for mitigating the impacts of those hazards.
  • Demonstrate professional analysis and writing skills.

Course Format

Lecture. Exams, assigned readings and related exercises and questionnaires.