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The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science 

What makes Earth unique among the planets? Explore the natural functions of Earth’s systems and Earth’s ability to sustain life.

A video course for high school teachers and college-level instruction; 13 half-hour video programs, online text, professional development guide, and interactives.

The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science is a course for high school teachers and undergraduate students in environmental science. The content course will help teachers of biology, chemistry, and Earth science to provide more content in their classes. The course components include 13 half-hour video programs, a coordinated website which includes the streamed video programs, the course text online, five interactive simulations, background on the scientists who created the content and those whose research is documented, a professional development guide, and additional resources. 

Course Overview

The Earth is probably unique in our solar system—a rare platform for complex life forms. The conditions present on Earth are maintained within a reasonable range by a series of global cycles linking geological systems with diverse forms of life present in almost every available niche. This course asks: What makes Earth unique among planets? How are life forms, namely human beings, sustained by the Earth’s overall ecosystem, and, in turn, what effects do humans have on its natural systems? What does Earth’s future look like? Given current trends, what can be predicted and what might be expected if we acted in concert to mitigate our impacts on the planet itself?

This course begins with an overview of the Earth’s systems — geophysical, atmospheric, oceanic, and ecosystems — as they exist independently of human influence. Following this introduction, the course explores the effect that human activities have on the different natural systems. Topics include human population growth and resource use, increasing competition for fresh water, and climate change. Each of the 13 programs features two case studies following top scientists in the field.

Course Audience

The Habitable Planet was designed for teachers, educators, and adult learners with a science background who want to learn more about current issues in environmental science. College or graduate students, advanced high school students, or even professional scientists may also find this course useful. We welcome their use of these materials.

The materials are designed for various uses. While this is not a curriculum for use in a high school classroom, some materials may be used to supplement existing curriculum. Some individuals may want to learn about a single topic and study parts of one unit on their own. Some may join in facilitator-led groups, such as professional development workshops or in-service sessions. Information on how to use these materials to facilitate a professional development workshop is available in the pdf downloadable Professional Development Guide.

Course Components

The Habitable Planet is a multimedia course consisting of 13 units. Each unit is composed of a 30-minute video, each featuring interviews with two scientists who are carrying out important research in environmental science, and an online text chapter. The unit textbook chapters provide core content reading that extends and deepens concepts introduced in the video case studies. The website acts as a home base to begin study, a place to organize the course materials. It provides access to all the course components plus additional resources, which include:

  • Videos
    Each video features interviews with two scientists who are carrying out important research in environmental science.
  • Textbook Chapters
    Unit textbook chapters provide core content reading that extends and deepens concepts introduced in the video case studies.
  • Scientists
    Biographies of scientists, photographs, and additional interview transcripts are provided.
  • Visuals
    Animations used in the videos, and photographs and graphics from the online textbook are available as thumbnails as well as small and large-sized images.
  • Interactive Activities
    These five activities span several units but tie together their concepts.
  • Professional Development Course Guide
    For each unit there is a Guide containing information on how to use the materials to run a teacher professional development workshop. The Guide is written by environmental science educators and teachers and includes suggested pre and post video viewing discussion questions, lists of commonly held misconceptions about that unit’s subject, and course activities that fit the hourly requirements of most graduate level distance learning programs. In addition, there are suggested supplementary activities that teachers may use in their classrooms.
  • Glossary
    Definitions of terms used throughout the online text are provided.

K-12 public education audiences may watch the free videos on demand via broadband streaming at, with Course Guides available as downloadable PDFs on this website.

How to Use This Course

Users may decide to study all 13 units, or they may be interested in a single subject. Each unit is complete in its focus, but one unit may refer to ideas and techniques presented in other units. For a comprehensive look at the many ideas presented in The Habitable Planet, following the order, from one to thirteen, is suggested.

The videos and online textbook chapters can be used independently. When using both, it is possible to start with either one. We suggest users read the chapter first and then watch the video. The lab activities should be completed after watching the related video and reading the related chapters to give users a practical, applied experience.


Individual Unit Descriptions

1. Many Planets, One Earth
The early Earth was a much different planet than the one we know today. Ancient rocks provide evidence of the emergence of oxygen in the atmosphere and of a frozen Snowball Earth. Scientists Paul Hoffman and Andrew Knoll look at these clues to help explain the rise of complex animal life.
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2. Atmosphere
The atmosphere is what makes the Earth habitable. Heat-trapping gases allow ecosystems to flourish. While the NOAA Global Monitoring Project documents the fluctuations in greenhouse gases worldwide, MIT’s Kerry Emanuel looks at the role of hurricanes in regulating global climate.
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3. Oceans
Ocean systems operate on a range of scales, from massive systems such as El Niño that affects weather across the globe to tiny photosynthetic organisms near the ocean surface that take in large amounts of carbon dioxide. This program looks at how ocean systems regulate themselves and thus help maintain the planet’s habitability.
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4. Ecosystems
Scientists from the Smithsonian Center for Tropical Research document the astounding abundance of diversity in tropical rainforests to discover why so many species coexist that are competing for the same resources. In North America, the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction project explores why removing just one species dramatically changed the distribution of plants and animals up and down the food web.
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5. Human Population Dynamics
The human population of our planet now exceeds 6.5 billion and is rising. Much of this growth is projected for the most environmentally fragile regions of the world. Will studying the history of the world’s population growth help predict the Earth’s “carrying capacity”?
Go to this unit.

6. Risk, Exposure, and Health
We all require food, air, and water to survive — which are contaminated to some extent by man-made pollutants. Two studies, one in a rural western mining town and another in a dense urban population, reveal how these exposures impact health, and what can be done to reduce the risks.
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7. Agriculture
Will world population outrun food resources? The “Green Revolution” of the 20th century multiplied crop yields, in part through increasing inputs of pesticides and fertilizers. How can farmers reduce their use of agricultural chemicals and still produce enough food?
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8. Water Resources
While essential to the lives of humans and animals, freshwater only accounts for six percent of the world’s water supply. Scientists in Florida’s Everglades and the water challenged Southwest consider the optimum use of existing sources of freshwater for both humans and ecosystems.
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9. Biodiversity Decline
Species are being lost at a rapid rate in rainforests and coral reefs. Yet many species still have not been discovered. Tropical scientists struggle to keep ahead of the bulldozers as they work to understand this complex ecosystem. And an ocean biologist predicts the death of life and the “rise of slime” in the sea. How can we protect the biodiversity of these vulnerable ecosystems?
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10. Energy Challenges
Global energy use increases by the day. Polluting the atmosphere with ever more carbon dioxide is not a viable solution for our future energy needs. Can new technologies such as carbon sequestration and ethanol production help provide the energy we need without pushing the concentrations of CO2 to dangerous levels?
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11. Atmospheric Pollution
Once released, air pollutants react chemically with each other under solar radiation to become even more dangerous secondary pollutants. A company in the Northeast U.S. tracks the emission of pollutants at street level, while an international long-term study follows plumes of pollution from Mexico City across the continent and beyond.
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12. Earth’s Changing Climate
Tropical glaciers are the world’s thermometers; their melting is a signal that human activities are warming the planet. A California project tries to predict whether natural ecosystems will be able to absorb enough additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the next 50 years to mitigate the full impact of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.
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13. Looking Forward: Our Global Experiment
Earth’s essential systems are being stressed in many ways. There are many tipping points in the environment, beyond which there could be serious consequences. Will human ingenuity, resiliency, and cooperation save us from the worst outcomes of our global experiment?
Go to this unit.

Interactive Labs

These 5 interactive lab activities span several units but tie together their common concepts. You may explore functional simulations or do field activities that are tied to the content of related units.

Please Note: Units 6, 8, and 11 do not have an Interactive lab.

Carbon Lab (Units 1-3, 13)
Throughout this course, the carbon cycle is featured as one of the most important planetary systems. This lab uses a robust model of the carbon cycle to give you an intuitive sense for how the system works.  It also allows you to experiment with how human inputs to the cycle might change global outcomes to the year 2100 and beyond. One especially relevant human impact is the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels. Between 1850 and today, atmospheric concentrations have risen from 287 ppm (parts per million) to over 380 ppm – a level higher than any known on Earth in more than 30 million years (see Unit 12 to find out how scientists measure ancient atmospheric carbon levels). You will experiment with the human factors that contribute to this rise, and see how different inputs to the carbon cycle might affect concentrations of the greenhouse gas CO2. launch lab
Demographics Lab (Units 5, 13)
Baby boom. Overpopulation. Birth dearth. These terms all refer to human population growth, and can conjure images of environmental and economic peril. Which are real issues, and should they matter to us?

Demographers like the US Census Bureau make population projections based on mathematical models. In this lab you will explore a fully functional simulation, based on real demographic data. You will examine important demographic trends through a series of guided lessons. After completing these lessons you will understand the factors that control human population growth, recognize the sea-change in human history that is the “demographic transition,” and gain a sense of how population demographics have a very human impact in all areas of our habitable planet. launch lab

Disease Lab (Unit 5, 6)
Recently, new diseases, such as SARS, and the potential for a pandemic avian flu have raised international concerns about health. As populations grow (see the Demographics lab), especially in densely packed urban areas, there is increased risk of disease transmission. This lab will allow you to explore various types of diseases: “Kold” is similar to the common cold, “Impfluenza” resembles a typical influenza outbreak, and “Red Death” represents a fast-spreading epidemic with a high mortality rate (such as avian flu if it were to develop through human-to-human transmission). What factors come into play in the spread of these diseases, and what can we do to counter them? launch lab
Ecology Lab (Units 4, 7, 9, 13)
As you learned in Unit 4, ecosystems are a complex and delicate balancing game. The addition or removal of any species affects many other species that might compete for or provide food. In this lab you will get a chance to “build your own” ecosystem, and explore the effects of these interrelationships.launch lab
Energy Lab (Units 10, 12, 13)
In today’s world, with populations and economies booming, the demand for energy is rising. A portfolio of different energy sources is used to meet this demand. Since there is no perfectly clean, safe, and inexpensive source of energy, the composition of this portfolio involves tradeoffs of safety, cost, and-of increasing concern-emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 (if you haven’t done the Carbon Cycle lab yet, we recommend you start there). In this lab, your challenge is to try to meet the world’s projected energy demand by choosing from the available energy sources while keeping atmospheric CO2under control and avoiding the particular limits and pitfalls associated with each energy source. launch lab

Professional Development Guides

Professional Development Guide

A downloadable PDF Professional Development Guide for this course provides an outline for a workshop facilitator to use the course materials in a professional development session for teachers and educators, individually or as a group. The Guide describes how to run a prescribed sequence workshop that can help teachers earn professional development points or graduate credit.

Download PDF versions of the Professional Development Guide units:

Full Professional Development Guide with appendix




Online Textbooks PDFs

The online textbook provides a background to understand and discuss the natural functioning of the different Earth systems; it introduces humans as part of the overall ecosystem and explores what is needed to sustain human life; and it looks at the effects that human actions have on different natural systems. The online textbook also includes full-color images of related figures, glossary terms, and a bibliography for further reading.

Click on the unit titles in the menu to the left to view the Web version of the online textbook, which includes links to related material; or download PDF versions of the chapters below.

Download PDF versions of the Online Textbook:

Full textbook



The content for each unit was developed under the leadership of a leading science academic noted for his or her work in environmental science.

David E. Bloom (Unit 5)
David Bloom is Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography and chairman of the Department of Population and International Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. His recent work has focused on the links among population health, demographic change, and economic growth, and on primary, secondary, and higher education in developing countries. He has been on the faculty of the public policy school at Carnegie Mellon University and the economics departments of Harvard University and Columbia University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, where he co-directs the Academy’s project on Universal Basic and Secondary Education.
Charles F. Harvey (Unit 8)
He is a hydrologist concerned with groundwater and the fate and transport of chemicals in the subsurface environment. His research projects include investigations into the arsenic contamination of Bangladesh’s water supply, the flux of nutrients in coastal ocean waters, and the fundamental physical and chemical processes that transform pollutants within soils and groundwater.


Noel Michele “Missy” Holbrook (Unit 7)
Missy Holbrook is professor of biology and the Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Her research interests include long-distance transport physiology in plants; root physiology: interactions between uptake and growth; water relations associated with flowering and flower production; biomechanics of growth and development; and factors controlling uptake and movement of water in tropical trees.


John P. Holdren (Unit 10)
John Holdren is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School, as well as professor in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He is also director of the Woods Hole Research Center, chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and co-chair of the independent, bi-partisan National Commission on Energy Policy. His work has focused on causes and consequences of global environmental change, analysis of energy technologies and policies, ways to reduce the dangers from nuclear weapons and materials, and the interaction of content and process in science and technology policy. // Read interview transcript
Daniel J. Jacob (Unit 11)
Daniel Jacob is a professor of atmospheric chemistry and environmental engineering at Harvard University. The goal of his research is to understand the chemical composition of the atmosphere, its perturbation by human activity, and the implications for climate change and life on Earth. His approaches include global modeling of atmospheric chemistry and climate, aircraft measurement campaigns, satellite data retrievals, and analyses of atmospheric observations.
James J. McCarthy (Unit 3)
James McCarthy is an Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography and director of Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. His research interests relate to the regulation of plankton productivity in the sea, in particular the cycling of nitrogen in planktonic ecosystems. He was the founding editor of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Global Biogeochemical Cycles journal. For the past five years he has served as co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group II, which has responsibilities for assessing impacts of, and vulnerabilities to, global climate change. He has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1997, he was the recipient of the New England Aquarium’s David B. Stone Award for distinguished service to the environment and the community.
Paul R. Moorcroft (Unit 4)
Paul Moorcroft is a professor of biology at Harvard University who specializes in terrestrial ecosystem dynamics. His research investigates how ecological processes affect the structure, composition, and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems at regional to global scales. His research investigates how ecological processes affect the structure, composition, and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems at regional to global scales. He has published a book with Mark Lewis on animal movement, entitled Mechanistic Home Range Models: From Individual Behavior to Large-scale Pattern.
Anne Pringle (Unit 9)
Anne Pringle is an assistant professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University and an associate member at the Broad Institute.Her research explores evolution as it happens in wild populations of fungi. Current work in her laboratory focuses on an introduced symbiont currently expanding its range on the West Coast of North America, cooperation between germinating spores of the genetic model Neurospora crassa, and immortality within filamentous fungi. Photo by Richard Harris
Daniel P. Schrag (Course Content Developer; Units 1, 12, 13)
Daniel Schrag is professor of Earth and planetary sciences and environmental engineering at Harvard University and the director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. He majored in political science and geology, beginning an interest in science and policy that continues to this day. As a graduate student at Berkeley, Schrag was introduced to geochemistry and paleoclimatology through his work developing new methods for reconstructing ancient climates. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1993, Schrag taught at Princeton until 1997, when he moved to Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. In his research, Schrag applies a variety of techniques from analytical chemistry to a wide range of Earth materials including trees, corals, and deep sea sediments, using the data to understand the chemical and physical evolution of the atmosphere and ocean and the relationship to the evolution of life. He has studied the physical circulation of the modern ocean, focusing on El Niño and the tropical Pacific. He has worked on theories for Pleistocene ice-age cycles over the last few hundred thousand years. He helped develop the Snowball Earth hypothesis, proposing that a series of global glaciations occurred between 750 and 580 million years ago that may have contributed to the evolution of multicellular animals. He has also worked on the early climates of Earth and Mars nearly 4 billion years ago. He is currently working with economists and engineers on technological approaches to mitigating future climate change. Among various honors, Schrag was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000.
John H. Shaw (Unit 10)
John Shaw is the Harry C. Dudley Professor of Structural and Economic Geology and Chair of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, Professor Shaw worked as an exploration and production geologist in the petroleum industry.Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, Professor Shaw worked as an exploration and production geologist in the petroleum industry. Shaw directs an active research program investigating the nature of oil and natural gas deposits in basins throughout the world. His research group works to develop more efficient methods of finding and exploiting these resources, as well as mitigating the environmental impacts of these operations. Professor Shaw’s additional research and teaching interests include alternative energies and material resources, and the environmental impacts of resource exploitation.
John D. Spengler (Unit 6)
John Spengler is the Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. His research activities are directed at the assessment of population exposures to environmental contaminants that occur in homes, offices, schools, and during transit as well as in the outdoor environment. Although he is investigating the effects of pollutants of outdoor origin (ozone, acidic particles, PCBs), he is particularly interested in pollutants of indoor origin (fungi, dust mites, nitrogen dioxide, tobacco smoke, radon, and others). He is also investigating ways to promote improved air quality through sustainable development strategies. Dr. Spengler’s objective is to construct the framework for linking zoning, purchases and practices, construction and appliance specifications, and pricing and tax strategies to energy and pollution consequences. He believes that the concepts of pollution prevention, environmental cost accounting, risk-reducing based decision making and life-cycle analysis have to mature from academic concerns to functional activities within the public and private sectors of a market-driven economy.
Steven C. Wofsy (Unit 2)
Steven Wofsy is professor of atmospheric and environmental science at Harvard University. His group projects include developing new airborne sensors to make accurate measurements of CO2, CH4, CO, and N2O, and devising new analysis and modeling procedures to extract quantitative information about sources, sinks, transformations, and transport of atmospheric trace gases. The long-term goal of these efforts is to understand the factors that regulate atmospheric composition and to help design programs to mitigate undesirable change.

Featured Scientists

Each of the thirteen videos in The Habitable Planet features interviews with two expert scientists in the field. Transcripts have been edited for clarity.

Andy Aden (Unit 10)
Andy Aden is a senior chemical engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Since 1999, Andy has specialized in process design, simulation, and economic analysis of biomass conversion and biofuels processes. He is well versed on the current and future economics of these processes, which include ethanol and biodiesel but, more importantly, focuses on cellulosic biomass conversion and biorefinery analysis. He completed several pre-feasibility studies for biomass projects in Alaska, California, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Since then, Andy has been responsible for techno-economic analysis of many enzymatic biomass conversion research projects and has worked with industrial and university partners on biomass technology integration. He also maintains expertise in life cycle assessment. His most recent contributions have been process design and economic analysis of thermochemical ethanol production via biomass gasification and mixed alcohols synthesis. // Read interview transcript
Deborah L. Balk (Unit 5)
Deborah Balk is associate professor at the Baruch School of Public Affairs and acting associate director of the Institute for Demographic Research at the City University of New York. Until Fall 2006, she was research scientist at the Center for International Earth Science Information of Network at Columbia University.There she was also lead project scientist for the NASA-funded Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center where she worked on large-scale data integration, and analysis, of geographic, survey, and administrative data. Among her current projects, she is principal investigator on two studies of urbanization and a National Science Foundation-funded project on emerging infectious disease. She is currently a member of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population working group on Urbanization and two National Research Council panels (on Populations at Risk, and Confidentiality of Data). She received a Ph.D. in demography from the University of California at Berkeley, and Masters and Bachelors degrees from the University of Michigan. // Read interview transcript
Mark A. Cane (Unit 3)
Mark Cane is the G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University, where he also holds joint appointment in the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and serves as a member of IRI’s International Science and Technical Advisory Committee. Cane received his Ph.D. in Meteorology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975. With his colleague Dr. Stephen Zebiak, Mark devised the first numerical model able to simulate El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a pattern of interannual climate variability centered in the tropical Pacific but with global consequences. In 1985 this model was used to make the first physically based forecasts of El Niño. Over the years the Zebiak-Cane model has been the primary tool used by many investigators to enhance understanding of ENSO. Dr. Cane has also worked extensively on the impact of El Niño on human activity, especially agriculture. In 1992 Dr. Cane received the Sverdrup Gold Medal of the American Meteorological Society. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His current research is focused on the variations in the paleoclimate record, especially abrupt changes, and on the impact of climate variability on human activities, especially agriculture and health. // Read interview transcript
Sallie W. “Penny” Chisholm (Unit 3)
Penny Chisholm is Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a biological oceanographer, her research interests include ocean ecology, the evolution and comparative genomics of marine cyanobacteria and the viruses that infect them, iron and phytoplankton growth, and ocean fertility. Her work on the abundant marine phytoplankton, Prochlorococcus, first described in 1988, has led to a deeper understanding of microbial ecology and the oceanic carbon cycle.
// Read interview transcript
Robert H. Crabtree (Unit 4)
Robert Crabtree is the founder and chief scientist of the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center—a unique, private, non-profit scientific organization that specializes in long-term, large-scale, collaborative ecological study in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Dr. Crabtree has lead or collaborated in more than 40 research efforts, including a variety of remote sensing applications. Trained as a quantitative ecologist, Dr. Crabtree also specializes in landscape ecology and predictive habitat attribute modeling. He is a well-known expert on predator/prey relations, and is one of the leading authorities on the far-reaching ecological effects resulting from the reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone National Park. // Read interview transcript
Stuart J. Davies (Unit 4)
Stuart Davies is the director of the Center for Tropical Forest Science at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. This program coordinates a global network of 17 large-scale tropical forest research plots in 13 countries.This program coordinates a global network of 17 large-scale tropical forest research plots in 13 countries. The goals of the CTFS program are to: (i) to monitor representative biodiverse tropical forests of the world through a network of large long-term plots; (ii) to conduct research on the origin and maintenance of diversity in tropical forests, (iii) to understand the function of tropical forests and how tropical forests and their biodiversity can best be conserved, managed, and used in sustainable ways for human benefit; and (iv) to develop opportunities in training, capacity building, education and international collaborative studies in tropical forest science. Davies received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1996. He is a tropical ecologist and taxonomist specializing in the plants and ecosystems of Southeast Asia. His research investigates ecological and evolutionary influences on variation in rain forest communities across the tropics. Prior to becoming the director of the CTFS, Davies coordinated the Asia Program of CTFS which is cosponsored by Harvard University. Before joining CTFS, he was a senior research associate at the Center for International Development at Harvard University (2001-2003) and associate professor at the Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, University of Malaysia Sarawak (1997-2001).// Read interview transcript
Kerry A. Emanuel (Unit 2)
Kerry Emanuel is professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Other research activities include research on tropical cyclone genesis, environmental control of tropical cyclone intensity, the role of cumulus convection in regulating atmospheric water vapor and clouds, and the development of new techniques for assimilating nonlinear coherent structures into numerical models. // Read interview transcript


Chris Field (Unit 12)
Chris Field is the founding director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, professor of biological sciences at Stanford University, and faculty director of Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.Field and his colleagues have developed diverse approaches to quantifying large-scale ecosystem processes, using satellites, atmospheric data, models, and census data. They have explored global-scale patterns of vegetation-climate feedbacks, carbon cycle dynamics, primary production, forest management, and fire. At the ecosystem-scale, Field has, for more than a decade, led major experiments on grassland responses to global change, experiments that integrate approaches from molecular biology to remote sensing. Field’s activities in building the culture of global ecology include chairing the US National Committee for SCOPE (Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment) and U.S. Interagency Science Steering Group on Carbon Cycle Science, plus service on many committees of the National Research Council and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. Field was the lead author on the first Ecological Society of America (ESA)-Union of Concerned Scientists assessment of regional impacts of climate change on ecosystems (1999), which was a foundation for California’s first-in-the-nation law to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. He is currently a convening lead author for the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Field is a fellow of the ESA Aldo Leopold Leadership Program and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He has served on the editorial boards of Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecosystems, Global Change Biology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Field received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1981 and has been at the Carnegie Institution since 1984. His recent priorities include high performance “green” laboratories, integrity in the use of science by governments, local efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and the future of scientific publishing. // Read interview transcript
Wendy Graham (Unit 8)
Wendy D. Graham gained her Ph.D. in civil engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is currently the Carl S. Swisher Chair in Water Resources and Water Institute Director at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Dr. Graham has received numerous grants supporting projects related to her specialties in subsurface flow and solute transport modeling; groundwater resources evaluation and remediation; evaluation of impacts of agricultural production on surface and groundwater quality; development of hydrologic indicators of ecosystem status; and stochastic modeling. // Read interview transcript 
Neeraj Gupta (Unit 10)
Neeraj Gupta is a geologist at Battelle Memorial Institute. His educational and technical background includes hydrogeology, geology, and geochemistry. Since 1996, he has been one of the leaders in Battelle’s efforts to evaluate the feasibility of geologic storage of carbon dioxide in sedimentary formations. Since 1996, he has been one of the leaders in Battelle’s efforts to evaluate the feasibility of geologic storage of carbon dioxide in sedimentary formations. His current and previous work includes field investigations, regional hydrogeology, reservoir simulations of CO2 storage, geochemical modeling and experiments, seismic assessments, cost and regulatory analysis, and development of CO2 capture technologies. Dr. Gupta has had a major role in development of the research agenda for carbon management technologies and has written more than 40 reports and papers on the subject. // Read interview transcript
Paul F. Hoffman (Unit 1)
Paul Hoffman is the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University.As a life-long field geologist, he has studied the inception of the North American continent, the sequence of supercontinents prior to Pangea, and the global ‘snowball’ glaciations from which the first complex animals emerged. // Read interview transcript
Howard Hu (Unit 6)
Howard Hu is adjunct professor at Harvard School of Public Health and chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and professor of environmental health, epidemiology, and medicine at the University of Michigan Schools of Public Health and Medicine.Dr. Hu was the founding medical editor of Environmental Health Perspectives. He founded the Metals Epidemiology Research Group (MERG) which has been conducting multi-disciplinary human population studies around the world on the health effects of general environmental and occupational exposures to lead, manganese, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals. An early MERG advance was the development and application of a special instrument, called K-X-ray fluorescence (KXRF), for the safe and accurate measurement of skeletal lead levels in human subjects. Dr. Hu directs the Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research at Harvard School of Public Health. // Read interview transcript
Jeremy B. C. Jackson (Unit 9)
Jeremy Jackson is the William E. and Mary B. Ritter Professor of Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, and a staff scientist at the Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archaeology at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the board of the World Wildlife Fund. Among the many awards he has received are the Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service from the Smithsonian Institution in 1997 and the University of California Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering in 2002. Discover magazine cited his research on overfishing as the outstanding discovery of 2002. He is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and five books. His current and recent past research interests center on paleoecology and macroevolution with particular interest in the environmental and biological consequences of the events leading up to the formation of the Isthmus of Panama over the past 15 million years. Jackson is perhaps best known for his ground breaking research documenting the historical consequences of humankind’s exploitation of ocean resources from its first appearance to the present time. // Read interview transcript
Peter E. Kenmore (Unit 7)
Peter Kenmore is an agricultural entomologist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN agency that spearheads international efforts to defeat hunger around the world. Dr. Kenmore is the chief of the Plant Protection Service and co-chairs the Interdepartmental Working Group on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture. He led a large international team that developed and implemented a plan for integrated pest management for rice production in Asia. Dr. Kenmore was selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 1994 for his work in reducing pesticide use around the world. // Read interview transcript
Andrew H. Knoll (Unit 1)
Andrew Knoll is the Fisher Professor of Natural History in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He is broadly interested in the evolution of life, the evolution of Earth surface environments, and the relationships between the two.He is broadly interested in the evolution of life, the evolution of Earth surface environments, and the relationships between the two. His work focuses in part on the first four billion years of Earth’s history – Archean and Proterozoic paleontology and biogeochemistry, including the early diversification of prokaryotic metabolisms, the initial radiation of eukaryotic life, and the rise of large complex algae and animals. He is also actively involved in Mars exploration, both as part of NASA’s 2004 MER missions and in the planning for future landings. // Read interview transcript
Charles E. Kolb (Unit 11)
Charles Kolb is the president and chief executive officer of Aerodyne Research, Inc. where his personal areas of research have included atmospheric and environmental chemistry, combustion chemistry, materials chemistry, and the chemical physics of rocket and aircraft exhaust plumes.In the area of atmospheric and environmental chemistry, Dr. Kolb initiated programs for the identification and quantification of sources and sinks of trace atmospheric gases and aerosols involved in regional and global pollution problems, as well as the development of spectral sensing techniques to quantify soil pollutants. He has also developed models of aircraft and rocket exhaust plume/wake chemical kinetics, condensation physics and dispersion processes critical to the systematic assessment of the impact of aerospace systems on the chemical structure of the upper troposphere and stratosphere. // Read interview transcript
William F. Laurance (Unit 9)
William Laurance is a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project in Brazilian Amazonia.His research is focused on assessing the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, and wildfires on tropical ecosystems. He is also broadly interested in global-change phenomena, and in conservation policy. A leading voice for tropical forest conservation, Dr. Laurance firmly believes that scientists must engage policy makers and the general public, in addition to other scientists. He has received a number of professional awards and is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and World Innovation Foundation. He is currently president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, the world’s largest scientific organization devoted to the study and wise use of tropical ecosystems. // Read interview transcript
Thomas Maddock (Unit 8)
Thomas Maddock is the head of the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona, the former deputy director of the Science and Technology Center for Sustainability of Semi-arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA), and the co-director of the University of Arizona Research Laboratory for Riparian Studies. Dr. Maddock has been a member of several editorial boards and contributes his time to various committees in his field such as the Hydrology Committee for the Lower Rio Grande Adjudication, and the Texas-New Mexico Settlement Commission. In addition, he has written extensively about hydrology in various publications such as the Hydrogeology Journal, Groundwater, Rivers, Water Resources Bulletin, and Water Resources Research. Currently, he supervises Ph.D. and Master Students in hydrology. He has won several honors and awards including: the Joseph Wood Krutch Award for Environmental Service from The Nature Conservancy, and the Udall Fellowship from the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. Dr. Maddock received his B.S. in mathematics at the University of Houston, his M.S. in applied mathematics from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Harvard University.  // Read interview transcript
Pamela A. Matson (Unit 7)
Pamela Matson is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies in the School of Earth Sciences and the Woods Institute for Environment at Stanford University. She is an interdisciplinary Earth scientist who studies chemical interactions among soils, water, and atmosphere, and she works with multi-disciplinary teams of researchers and decision-makers to develop land management approaches that make sense economically and environmentally. Working mostly in the tropics, she and her colleagues have identified the negative consequences of deforestation and intensive agriculture for the global and local atmosphere and water systems, and are working to develop new approaches that reduce those impacts while maintaining human livelihoods. Matson was selected a MacArthur Fellow in 1995, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She currently serves as the dean of Stanford University’s School of Earth Sciences. // Read interview transcript
Luisa T. Molina (Unit 11)
Luisa Molina is currently the president of the Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and the Environment (MCE2) in La Jolla, California and principal research scientist at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Dr. Molina’s research interests include molecular spectroscopy, chemical kinetics, and atmospheric chemistry. She has been involved in particular with the chemistry of stratospheric ozone depletion and urban air pollution. She demonstrated experimentally a new reaction sequence, which explains how chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) caused the Antarctic ozone hole. Recently she initiated a multi-disciplinary project involving an integrated assessment of air pollution in megacities, aimed at improving the environmental decision-making process through education and the better use of scientific, technical, and socio-economic understanding. // Read interview transcript
Daniel Pauly (Unit 13)
Daniel Pauly is professor and director of Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Pauly’s scientific output, mainly dedicated to the management of fisheries, and to ecosystem modeling, comprises numerous contributions to peer-reviewed journals, authored and edited books, reports and popular articles, and the concepts, methods and software he (co-) developed are in use throughout the world. This applies notably to the ecosystem modeling approach incorporated in the Ecopath software (see ), to FishBase, the online encyclopedia of fishes (see, and the global mapping of fisheries trends (see In 2003, he was named one of UBC’s Distinguished University Scholars and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Science). In 2004, he received the Roger Revelle Medal from IOC/UNESCO, and the Award of Excellence of the American Fisheries Society. In 2005, Dr. Pauly received the International Cosmos Prize, a prestigious award granted by the Expo’90 Foundation of Japan, for research excellence with a global perspective. // Read interview transcript
Martha Farnsworth Riche (Unit 5)
The Honorable Martha Farnsworth Riche served as director of the U.S. Census Bureau between 1994 and 1998. Through Farnsworth Riche Associates, Dr. Riche consults, writes, and lectures on demographic changes and their effects on policies, programs, and products. She began her career as an economist with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, then moved to the private sector where she was a founding editor of American Demographics, the nation’s first magazine devoted to interpreting demographic and economic information for corporate and public executives. There she identified and assessed important socio-economic trends, such as the lengthening of dependency among youth (“The Boomerang Age”), and the shift from a youth-dominated population to one where each generation is represented equally (“From Pyramids to Pillars”). In 1991, she became director of policy studies for the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about the demographic component of policy issues. A fellow of the American Statistical Association, she is the author of numerous articles, papers, and publications in academic and business journals, and a frequent speaker before university, business, and policy audiences. // Read interview transcript
Pieter P. Tans (Unit 2)
Pieter Tans is senior scientist at the Earth System Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado. He has studied the global carbon cycle for several decades, starting with his Ph.D. dissertation research in the Netherlands, and has published close to 140 scientific papers on the subject. His group maintains the world’s largest global monitoring network of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and provides reference gas mixtures to calibrate high accuracy greenhouse gas measurements worldwide. Dr. Tans serves on several advisory committees for research on the carbon cycle and climate, and is a member of the editorial board of Tellus. // Read interview transcript
Lonnie G. Thompson (Unit 12)
Lonnie Thompson, a distinguished professor of geologic sciences at The Ohio State University and senior research scientist with the Byrd Polar Research Center, has become one of the world’s authorities on the melting of glaciers and ice caps as a warning of rising global temperatures.For the past three decades, Thompson, along with his wife and research partner Ellen Mosely-Thompson, has led an effort to first recognize that the shrinking of tropical glaciers and ice fields is an early warning of the impact of global climate change, and second, to rescue the remaining archives of ancient climate trapped in ice cores from those locations for future research. To rescue those records, Thompson and his team have conducted nearly 50 expeditions to some of the Earth’s most remote places, to drill ice cores and bring them back to Ohio State to extract those climate records. The expeditions, dating back to 1973, have taken him to Antarctica and numerous ice caps on five continents, some as high as 23,600 feet (7,200 meters). He is believed to have spent more time at altitudes above 18,000 feet (5,500 meters) than any other human. Thompson was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2005. In November 2005, he was featured in a Rolling Stone article on those fighting global climate change. Also in 2005, he was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, an honor often regarded as the environmental science equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Through his research endeavors, Thompson is a leading national spokesman on the subject of global climate change and is considered one of the most respected voices in the world on related policy issues. Thompson obtained his undergraduate degree from Marshall University, where he majored in geology. He subsequently attended The Ohio State University where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. // Read interview transcript
Robin M. Whyatt (Unit 6)
Robin Whyatt is associate professor of clinical environmental health sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and is deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.Her research focus is on the effects of environmental exposures on women and children, including the developing fetus. This has included epidemiologic research on prenatal exposures to ambient air pollution and cigarette smoking and research on effects of environmental exposures among African American and Dominican mothers and newborns from New York City. Dr. Whyatt’s particular focus is on the extent of exposure to non-persistent pesticides (organophosphates, carbamates and pyrethroids) and phthalates during pregnancy among this minority cohort. She is also collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control on the validation of biomarkers of prenatal exposures to contemporary-use pesticides. Dr. Whyatt is principal investigator on a number of federal research grants and has published widely on use of biologic markers in studies of perinatal exposures. She as served on a number of federal committees including the National Academy of Science Committee on Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Toxicants, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on children’s environmental health issues including considerations of developmental changes in behavior and anatomy when assessing exposures to children; on selecting the appropriate age groups for assessing childhood exposures to environmental contaminants; and on a framework for assessing health risks of environmental exposures to children. She also served as co-chair of the chemical exposures workgroup for the National Children’s Longitudinal Cohort Study. // Read interview transcript
E.O. Wilson (Unit 13)
Edward O. Wilson is University Research Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator of Entomology at Harvard University. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on ants. As a writer (more than 20 books, including “The Diversity of Life,” “Biophilia,” “Naturalist,” and “The Creation”), ecologist, and environmentalist, his work has had a profound impact on the public understanding of biodiversity loss and humanity’s role in the planet’s ecosystem. Prof. Wilson is the recipient of the National Medal of Science, the International Prize for Biology, the gold medal of the World Wildlife Fund, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the American Humanist Association, and the Crafoord Prize from the Swedish Academy of Sciences. // Read interview transcript

Professional Development Guide Content Developers

The Professional Development Guide was produced under the leadership of prominent environmental science teacher educators.

Michael J. Brody
Michael Brody is an associate professor of education in the College of Education, Health and Human Development at Montana State University, where he teaches courses in environment, science education, and educational research at the graduate and undergraduate levels.Brody has worked with teachers throughout the Russian Federation, Morocco, and Thailand and has developed the Ecological Field Studies Program connecting environmental educators through global networks. He is a research associate of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, where he helped design the permanent exhibit, Landforms/Lifeforms. He is a member of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Research Commission and received the NAAEE Outstanding Contributions to Research Award in 2006. Presently he is working on the development of Project Archaeology and researching science learning outcomes in both formal and informal settings. Brody is the executive editor of ARexpeditions, an on-line action research journal for professional educators.
Warren C. Tomkiewicz
Warren Tomkiewicz is professor of Earth system science and chair of the Environmental Science and Policy Department at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire.He teaches undergraduate courses in Earth system science, environmental science, and ocean studies, and graduate courses in science education. He is also graduate coordinator for the M.S. and MAT programs in science education. Warren has been the recipient of several grants funding professional development institutes, courses, and workshops for science teachers in New Hampshire and Maine. His current research interests include effective teaching and learning strategies in undergraduate Earth system science and environmental science courses. He coordinates an action research project with science teachers on teaching and learning science as inquiry. He received his Ed.D. from Boston University, M.S. from Northeastern University, and B.S. from Plymouth State College.


Site and Series Credits


Michael Brody is an Associate Professor of Education in the College of Education, Health, and Human Development at Montana State University where he teaches courses in environment, science education, and educational research at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University (1985) in Science & Environmental Education. Brody has worked with teachers throughout the Russian Federation, Morocco, and Thailand and has developed the Ecological Field Studies Program connecting environmental educators through global networks. He is a Research Associate of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana where he helped design the permanent exhibit, Landforms/Lifeforms. He is a member of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Research Commission and received the NAAEE Outstanding Contributions to Research Award in 2006. Presently he is working on the development of Project Archaeology and researching science learning outcomes in both formal and informal settings. Brody is the Executive Editor of ARexpeditions an on-line action research journal for professional educators.

Rita Chang is an earth science teacher at Wellesley High School in Wellesley, MA and co-producer of a new DVD series, Classroom Encounters with Global Change Scientists, a series on global environmental change that features well-known scientists and ninth graders. She is president of Classroom Encounters, LLC, a start-up “for-benefit” educational filmmaking partnership she co-founded with a filmmaker to improve how science is taught and communicated. Before becoming a classroom teacher, Ms. Chang was the Executive Director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. Ms. Chang also started up and served as chief executive officer of several pioneering health care and non-profit organizations and has served as chief operating officer of the Urban Medical Group for over a decade.

John Gollisz is the assistant principal for science at the High School for Environmental Studies in New York City. It was founded in 1992 in response to a growing consciousness of environmental issues and in anticipation of a rapidly expanding field of environmental professions. The school was created to become a model in urban environmental education and an exemplary high school overall, by promoting environmentally literate citizens in a rigorous college preparatory program. John’s work ensures that environmental themes are incorporated into the curricula, in order to achieve the purpose of the school and help define its innovative approach.

Jon Harbor’s background includes degrees in both geography and geology, and research and teaching in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. A former Fulbright senior scholar and a recipient of Purdue’s top award for undergraduate teaching, Dr. Harbor’s interests include developing, implementing, and researching theme-based approaches to education that build on students’ interests in important and topical issues, and that integrate science with other areas of instruction, including writing, policy, and social sciences. His environmental research program includes work to develop the science and tools that help communities make informed decisions about environmental management. Dr. Harbor’s research and educational initiatives are currently funded by the National Science Foundation, and in 2003, he was selected to help start a new center at Purdue University that focuses on learning research and on translating new discoveries in areas such as science, technology and engineering into education programs at all levels.

Eric Klopfer is Associate Professor and Director of the Scheller MIT Teacher Education Program. Klopfer’s research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. His research explores simulations and games on desktop computers as well as handhelds. He is the creator of StarLogo TNG, a new platform for helping kids create 3D simulations and games using a graphical programming language. On handhelds, Klopfer’s work includes participatory simulations, which embed users inside complex systems, and augmented reality simulations, which create a hybrid virtual/real space for exploring intricate scenarios in real-time. He is the co-director of “The Education Arcade,” which is advancing the development and use of games in K-12 education. Klopfer’s work combines the construction of new software tools with research and development of new pedagogical supports that support the use of these tools in the classroom. He is the co-author of the book, Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo and author of a forthcoming book on mobile games and learning from MIT Press.

Julie Libarkin, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Geological Sciences and Division of Science and Math Education, Michigan State University. Libarkin received her Ph.D. in geosciences from the University of Arizona. Her research in geology focuses on the development of high elevation plateaus and the use of cosmogenic isotopes as paleoaltimeters. Her research in geoscience education focuses on conceptual change and cognitive development, particularly in entry-level college classrooms. She was a National Science Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education (PFSMETE) at the University of Arizona and subsequently at the CfA. Libarkin served as content advisor and on-camera interviewer for the professional development television series, Essential Science for Teachers: Earth and Space Science.

Susan Rauchwerk Collins is currently teaching science methods and curriculum and instruction at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Rauchwerk Collins has more than 25 years of experience teaching pedagogy, science, and environmental education in both traditional and non-traditional settings. She began her career as a teacher/naturalist working in a variety of day and residential environmental programs for K-12 students throughout the Northeast. Dr. Rauchwerk went on to combine teaching with administration and worked as the Assistant Director of Chickatawbut Hill (Mass Audubon Society, Canton, MA), the Education Manager for Drumlin Farm (Mass Audubon Society, Lincoln, MA), and Director of Education for Earthwatch Institute (Maynard, MA). As an administrator she developed, implemented, and evaluated environmental science and natural history programs that met the professional development needs of teachers, as well as state/national curriculum standards. Dr. Rauchwerk Collins is committed to environmental awareness and education at all learning levels.

Kris Scopinich is Education Manager at Mass Audubon Society, where she oversees and manages on and off-site educational programs for schools, teachers, youth, families, and adults at the Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. The projects she has developed include Building Conservation Communities – a collaborative community-based environmental education initiative that aims to educate youth, teachers, adult mentors, and citizens about their local habitats and provide opportunities for stewardship in their communities; Merrimack River Youth Conservation Program-an initiative to build awareness for the Merrimack River Watershed by working with local conservation organizations and Haverhill Public Schools; and the Youth Environmental Leadership Program-an evaluation project aimed at high school students, their teachers, and their parents to learn what types of environmental education opportunities teens want and need in order to pursue further learning in the environmental field. Ms. Scopinich is a member of Massachusetts Environmental Education Society, North American Association of Environmental Education, and current President of the New England Environmental Education Alliance.


Each of the online textbook units was written by a university professor with expertise in that area. In addition, each professor advised on the content of the video case studies.

Course Design and Content Management

Dr. Daniel Schrag

Unit Online text and Video Content Developers

Professor David E. Bloom
Professor Charles Harvey
Professor Noel Michele “Missy” Holbrook
Professor John P. Holdren
Professor Daniel Jacob
Professor James J. McCarthy
Professor Paul Moorcroft Anne Pringle
Professor John H. Shaw
Professor John Spengler
Professor Steven Wofsy

Professional Development Guide Developers

Professor Michael Brody
Professor Warren Tomkiwiecz

Mary Ann McGarry is an associate professor of science education at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College in 1980, she designed a special major in environmental education and has been pursuing the field ever since, earning a Masters in Earth Sciences and a Doctorate in Science/Environmental Education. After serving as a faculty member on several campuses for the University of Maine System, in 2004 she joined the newly founded Center For The Environment at Plymouth State University (PSU) in New Hampshire, working on a new MS in Environmental Science and Policy degree. She continues to work internationally on environmental stewardship issues, fulfilling a residential fellowship for the Cypriot government, serving as a faculty instructor for the month-long PSU Pakistani Educational Leaders’ summer institutes, and leading regular travel study courses for educators within the U.S. Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Beginning in the fall of 2007, Mary Ann will become the Director of Education for the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, while remaining a faculty member at PSU.

Penny Juenemann lives with her family in Two Harbors, Minnesota where she teaches at Two Harbors High School. She received a B.S. in biology, a B.A.S in life science teaching, and a B.A.S in physical science teaching from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1994. Penny started her teaching career at the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School by Cloquet, Minnesota and in 1997 began teaching in Two Harbors. Penny received her M.S. in science education from Montana State University-Bozeman in 2004.

Jessica Krim earned her B.A. in Earth Science Education from the University of Delaware in 1997. She then taught Earth Science and Life Science on the Hopi Reservation in Keams Canyon Arizona, and Earth Science in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2003, she returned to school to complete her MA in Physical Science, and in 2005 began work on her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

Judith Pyle earned a B.S. in medical technology from Temple University (1979) and an M.S. in infectious disease from the University of Pennsylvania (1984). She has been teaching honors and AP Biology at Abington High School in Abington, PA for 16 years, has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, and has served as an online adjunct instructor for Montana State University.

Online Textbook Writer

Jennifer Weeks

Website Development

Don Button, Juliet Jacobson, Alison Plante, Lisa Portolese

Website Text Writer

Amy Bebergal

Interactive Labs

Ian Albinson, Ginger Booth, Shira Fruchtman, Kurt House, Eric Klopfer, Eli Meir, Jaimie Miller, Alison Plante


Kim Noethen


Executive Producer

Alex Griswold


John Browne, Alex Griswold, Clive Grainger, Tobias McElheny


Robert Duggan, James Day, Clive Grainger, Alex Griswold, Tobias McElheny, David Rabinovitz, Ryan Vachon

Additional Videography

John Browne, Ozzie Forbes, Larry Foster, Paul Hoffman, Tom Lynn, Tamsin Orion, Matthew Sullivan, Reginaldo Taison


Steven Allardi, Neil Duffy, Keri Green, Maria Kobrina, Julie Lewis

Sound Recordists

John Cameron, Joseph Chilorio, Robert Duggan, Alex Griswold, Tobias McElheny, John Osborne

Animators/Graphic Artists

Ian Albinson, Sarah Delahanty, Raedia Sikkema

On-Line Editors

Ian Albinson, Douglas K. Plante

Production Photographer

Clive Grainger

Production Coordinator

Robert Duggan

Production Assistants

James Day, Caitlin Rotman

Sound Mixers

Steven Allardi, Caleb Epps, Abraham Stein


Alison Plante – Treble Cove


Anna Lewicke


Dana Rouse

Annenberg Channel Coordinator

Michelle Hardy

Financial Manager

Oral Benjamin


Linda Williamson

Project Manager

Nancy Finkelstein

Executive Director

Dr. Matthew H. Schneps

Course Awards and Recognition

Habitable Planet Web site Wins AAAS Science Award

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Science magazine have awarded The Habitable Planet Web site its SPORE prize, the science prize for online resources in education. The prize recognizes freely available online materials that enrich science education. The Habitable Planet was one of 12 selected from an international field by a panel of 16 scientists and nine teachers. Science’s Editor-in-Chief, Bruce Alberts, writes that the prize was started because “being an outstanding science educator is as demanding and valuable to society as being an exceptional research scientist.”

Series Directory

The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science 


Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in association with the Harvard University Center for the Environment. 2007.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-883-1