Princeton University Freshman Seminar FRS171 & FRS187 (2011-2013)

Earth's Environments & Ancient Civilizations (in Cyprus)

See also:
Earth's Changing Surface & Climate — in California (2007-2009)
State of the Earth: Shifts and Cycles — in Spain (2015-2017)
Crops, Culture & Climate — in Italy (2019-2021)

In this Freshman Seminar, you combine field observations of the natural world with quantitative modeling and interpretation in order to answer questions like: How does environmental change alter the course of civilization, and how do civilizations modify their environment? How have Earth and human histories been recorded in the geology and archaeology of Cyprus, and what experiments can we do to query such archives of the past? In the classroom, through problem sets, and on campus excursions, you gain practical experience collecting geological and geophysical data in geographic context, and analyzing these data using software and programming languages like ArcGIS and MATLAB. During the required week-long Fall break trip to Cyprus, you engage in research projects that focus on the interplay between active tectonic landscapes, changing climate, and ancient civilizations, turning what you learn into three progressively more elaborate research papers. The classroom component has graded weekly assignments built around on-campus data collection, data preparation or analysis, software handling and scientific programming; but, also, expository and research writing which culminates in an original research paper, a scientific poster and an oral presentation for an audience of peers, Freshman Seminar alumni, and invited guests from the university community. Our field location is appropriate not only for its geoscientific importance but also for the tie-in with the Department of Art & Archaeology which has been conducting archaeological excavations in the city of Polis Chrysochous for three decades. You are taught how to carry out geological and geophysical research in a study area that is as real and as widely relevant as it gets. This is a science class! Come prepared with an aptitude for, and a willingness to learn, the quantitative aspects of scientific inquiry. Scientific writing is an integral part of this seminar and its assessment.

Department of Geosciences Professors Adam Maloof and Frederik Simons are veterans of the Freshman Seminar program: see Earth's Changing Surface & Climate, which was built around field work in California. Joining us from the Department of Art & Archaeology will be Dr. Joanna Smith and Prof. Willy Childs.

View a short movie and read more about the class on the Princeton News Homepage.

Student Feedback

Some Student Work

The Messinian Salinity Crisis Microsoft PPTX file
The Polis Beneath Our Feet 1 Microsoft PPTX file
The Polis Beneath Our Feet 2 Microsoft PPTX file
Picking Up The Pieces Microsoft PPTX file
Frederik Simons
Last modified: Fri Jul 12 07:07:20 EDT 2019