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The following state-of-the-art learning experiences were developed at Columbia University by distinguished faculty members working closely with our skilled instructional technology staff. Three to five hours in length, these in-depth multimedia e-seminars are free to Columbia students, faculty, and staff.

TitleSourceDescription
Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—A Series of Seven E-Seminars
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn an age characterized by a rapidly changing environment in which emerging and reemerging diseases continue to confront us, how can we predict the next major threats to human health? In his seven-part series, Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease, Dickson Despommier, Professor of Public Health and Microbiology at Columbia, illuminates the connections between the disruption of ecosystems and eruptions of human disease.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 1, The Normal Environment: How Things Got This Way
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn an age characterized by a rapidly changing environment, in which emerging and re-emerging diseases continue to confront us, how can we predict the next major threats to human health? Are we, in fact, aiding the spread of disease by destroying the barriers that keep us from it? In the first of eight e-seminars on medical ecology, professor of public health and microbiology Dickson Despommier explains the interconnectedness of life on earth by exploring the evolution of life itself, and the cycles of nutrients that link us to all the other life on the planet.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 2, The Normal Environment: The Way Things Are Now
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn this second e-seminar of an eight part series, The Normal Environment: The Way Things Are Now, Professor Despommier describes the producer-consumer interactions that drive ecosystems, the types and characteristics of ecoregions of the world, and the often undervalued "free" services (to which he attempts to assign a value) that ecosystems provide for us.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 3, Atmosphere: Stratospheric Problems
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn this third e-seminar of the series Medical Ecology, Professor Despommier probes into one of Earth's great zones—the upper atmosphere. As he describes the basic constituents of the atmosphere and the ecosystem services it provides, Professor Despommier also explores how industry is destroying the atmospheric system, exposing humans and animals on Earth below to severe health threats.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 4, Atmosphere: Problems at Ground Level
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn Atmosphere: Problems at Ground Level, the fourth of eight e-seminars, Despommier investigates the atmosphere at Earth's surface and the consequences of polluting the air around us. From acid deposition to industrial emissions, polluted air threatens the health of humans and ecosystems alike. Despommier elucidates this concept using text, reading materials, data, and state-of-the-art animation and imagery.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 5, Water: It's Not Just H2O
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn Water: It's Not Just H2O, the fifth e-seminar in the series Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease, Professor Despommier delves into another of Earth's great zones—water. He examines closely the hydrological cycle and the ecosystem services it provides, the world's dwindling sources of freshwater, and the effects of water pollution.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 6, Waterborne Infections
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn Waterborne Infections, the sixth e-seminar in the series Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease, Professor Dickson Despommier examines both the pathogens that cause waterborne disease and the role that water plays in their transmission and proliferation.

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Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease—E-Seminar 7, Food: Land Use and Health Risks
Columbia Learning Experiences
Dickson DespommierIn Food: Land Use and Health Risks, the seventh and final seminar of the e-seminar series Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease, Professor Dickson Despommier touches upon the last of Earth's great zones: land. He focuses his discussion on agriculture, our primary use of land, and the large impact that agriculture has on biodiversity and climate change.

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The Dark Side of the Universe
Columbia Learning Experiences
David HelfandIn this e-seminar, Professor David Helfand introduces us to the fundamentals of contemporary cosmology, such as space-time and the Universe's expansion, and some of the questions that preoccupy scientists today, including the nature and behavior of dark matter, MACHOs, WIMPs, and dark energy.

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Small Wonders: The World of Nano-Science
Columbia Learning Experiences
Horst StormerIn this e-seminar, Professor Horst Stormer magnifies the wondrous nano-world and reveals its enormous potential to shape our future. Stormer illuminates not only the often bizarre physics of the nanoscale but also explores cutting-edge nano-science research.

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Brain to Brain: Animal Communication—E-Seminar 1, Scents and Sensibility
Columbia Learning Experiences
Darcy B. KelleyIn this e-seminar, the first in a series of four, Professor Kelley gives a tour of brain anatomy and shows how nerve cells communicate with one other. She then explores how the fascinating signals of pheromones are used and sensed in the animal kingdom, and whether there is any likelihood that we, too, are lured to one another by odors we can't "smell."

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How Your Brain Works—Or Not!
Columbia Learning Experiences
Darcy B. KelleyA typical human brain is about six and a half inches long and four inches tall. Into this organ are packed something like a hundred billion nerve cells. In this e-seminar, Professor Darcy Kelley explores human behavior through an examination of how the brain works.

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How Predictable Are Natural Disasters?
Columbia Learning Experiences
Art Lerner-LamEarthquakes, volcanoes and other natural hazards have the potential to significantly affect human lives and society. In this e-seminar, Dr. Art Lerner-Lam focuses on types of natural hazards and their impact on human societies, as well as the impact of human society on the Earth.

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Environmental Sustainability: Perspectives on the World
Columbia Learning Experiences
Marc LevyProfessor Mark Levy leads an exploration of the many facets of environmental sustainability in this e-seminar, which is taught in conference-style format and features the perspectives of nine Columbia University faculty members associated with the Center International Earth Science Information Network.

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Darwin, Mendel, and the Diversity of Life
Columbia Learning Experiences
Donald J. MelnickIn this lecture Professor Donald J. Melnick explores the genius of Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin, from their influences and experiences to how their perspectives and methods shape modern science.

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Dinosaurs and the History of Life—E-Seminar 1, Prelude to the Dinosaurs
Columbia Learning Experiences
Paul E. OlsenIn this first e-seminar in a series of nine, professor of geological sciences Paul Olsen takes us back to the time before the dinosaurs, 4.5 billion to 245 million years ago, when our planet formed and became habitable, the first complex organisms arose, and the direct predecessors of the dinosaurs—and ourselves—came to dominate Earth.

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Dinosaurs and the History of Life—E-Seminar 2, The Triassic and the Origin of Dinosaurs
Columbia Learning Experiences
Paul E. OlsenIn this second e-seminar in a series of nine, professor of geological sciences Paul Olsen explores the beginning of the age of the dinosaurs, the Triassic Period. Discover the kinds of animals that eventually gave rise to the dinosaurs, the earliest dinosaurs, and the organisms that shared the Earth with them—including fierce rivals that dominated the land until a mass extinction cleared the way for dinosaur domination.

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Earth's Variable Climate
Columbia Learning Experiences
Joe OrtizWhat forces drive climate change? The objective of this e-seminar is to provide an introduction to some of the factors (both natural and human-induced) that drive climate change on a variety of time scales.

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How We Got Here: Turning Points in Sustainability
Columbia Learning Experiences
Science Museum, LondonDeveloped with the Science Museum (United Kingdom), How We Got Here: Turning Points in Sustainability looks at the historical development of the modern industrial economy, focusing on the issue of sustainability.

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These learning experiences were developed by Fathom in cooperation with Columbia University, and are hosted by Fathom. They are typically one hour or less in length, and are offered free of charge.

Edwin Howard Armstrong: FM Inventor
Columbia Learning ExperiencesFathom Archive
Tom Lewis, Lawrence Lessing, and Dana RaymondThis e-seminar chronicles the life of Edwin Howard Armstrong, the little-known but extraordinary inventor, and the struggles he faced patenting FM broadcasting technology.

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The Biology of Venomous Animals
Columbia Learning ExperiencesFathom Archive
Zoltan TakacsAnimals have evolved numerous ways to cope with feeding and defense, and one of these ways is using poisons and venoms. But how do poisons and venoms work on the chemical level, and why don't venomous or poisonous creatures poison themselves? These questions are answered by Zoltan Takacs, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University, who gives a general introduction about venomous and poisonous animals in this seminar. He explains what groups of animals are venomous, why they are venomous and how that venom works.

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