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Intro

Coursera: Mountains 101

 with  Zac Robinson and David Hik
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#1 in Subjects > Science
#1 in Subjects > Science > Environmental Science

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Mountains 101­­ is a broad and integrated overview of the mountain world. This 12-lesson course covers an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on the physical, biological, and human dimensions of mountain places in Alberta, Canada, and around the world. Specifically, we'll study the geological origins of mountains, how they’re built-up and worn-down over time; we’ll learn about their importance for biodiversity and water cycles, globally and locally; we’ll explore their cultural significance to societies around the globe, and how that relationship has evolved over time; and we’ll learn how mountains are used, how they’re protected, and how today they’re experiencing rapid change in a warming climate.

At the end of each lesson, Mountains 101 will also provide learners with some smart tricks -- Tech Tips -- to safely enjoy time in the high alpine environment: from how to pick the best footwear for hiking to making smart decisions in avalanche terrain.

We’ll be delivering your online lessons from valley bottoms to mountaintops, from museums and labs, to alpine huts and other spectacular alpine sites, and we’ll do so with the help of a whole host of experts.

We invite you to join us for this online adventure! The mountains are calling...

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Why Mountains Matter
In this introductory lesson, you will learn why mountain environments are relevant to people all around the globe. We’ll also define just what a “mountain” is in order to show why it is useful to think about mountains from various perspectives. TechTip: Your feet are your vehicle

Lesson 2: Origins
In Lesson 2, we discuss why mountains are located where they are. How did they get there? We’ll explore the physical origins of mountains, theories of mountain building, and how our changing ideas about mountains and their genesis have shaped our engagement with them. TechTip: Dress for success

Lesson 3: Climate
Mountains influence climate and weather at both global and local scales. In Lesson 3, we will examine how elevation affects atmospheric processes, and discuss an ecological manifestation of mountain climate: the alpine tree line. TechTip: What goes in your pack?

Lesson 4: Bodies at Altitude
Lesson 4 explores some of the physiological responses that allow humans to visit higher altitudes, as well as the unique genetic adaptations that permit long-time exposure to the world’s high places. TechTip: Stay found – preparation

Lesson 5: Water Towers
Lesson 5 focuses on mountain hydrology. We'll discuss the ways that water moves through the mountain landscape, how water shapes and changes mountain landscapes, and we'll introduce some hazards associated with water, such as glacial lake outburst floods. TechTip: Stay found – in the field

Lesson 6: Glaciers
Lesson 6 focuses exclusively on glaciers, their physical composition and processes, how they form and move, and how they modify the landscape. We’ll also examine how our changing understandings of glaciers have shaped the ways people have engaged with mountain landscapes over the past few centuries. TechTip: Stay safe – from falling

Lesson 7: Imagination
In Lesson 7, we examine some of the ways people have imagined mountains throughout time, and try to place those ideas and attitudes in their respective cultural contexts. Appreciating the diversity of views – their reception in oral traditions, art, literature, architecture, and other cultural forms – gives us some context for the more dominant ways we think about and celebrate mountains today. TechTip: Stay safe – winter challenges

Lesson 8: Hazards
Mountain hazards are the focus of Lesson 8, specifically snow avalanches, landslides, and volcanoes. We will examine the physical processes that lead to instability in mountain landscapes and consider how risks associated with hazards can be managed. TechTip: Stay safe – avalanche safety (know before you go)

Lesson 9: Mountain Biodiversity and Adaptations of Plants
In this Lesson 9, we discuss the ecological and evolutionary processes that account for the remarkable biodiversity of species living in mountain environments. Then, we explore some of the unique adaptations that plants have for coping with extreme conditions, including cold, intense solar radiation, and short growing seasons. TechTip: Go farther – camping

Lesson 10: Animal Adaptations
Animals living in mountains have evolved morphological, behavioural, and physiological adaptations to survive under extreme conditions. In Lesson 10, we will focus on how several species deal with the cold and conclude with a peek at the adaptations of fish living in mountain lakes. TechTip: Go farther – cooking

Lesson 11: Use and Preservation
How are mountains used? How are they preserved? In Lesson 11, we examine the often conflicting demands of using mountains, and preserving and managing the integrity of mountain environments, cultures and economies. TechTip: Go softly – mountain ethics

Lesson 12: Future Mountains
In Lesson 12, we will look forward and consider some possible future scenarios for mountains. How is our changing climate affecting these places? What are the indicators of change? What lessons can we learn from the past and present to inform decisions for tomorrow?

273 Student
reviews
Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
Pace Upcoming
Institution University of Alberta
Provider Coursera
Language English
Certificates Paid Certificate Available
Calendar 12 weeks long
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Reviews for Coursera's Mountains 101
4.9 Based on 273 reviews

  • 5 stars 91%
  • 4 stars 9%
  • 3 star 0%
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  • 1
5.0 10 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
(Much of this review has already been published at the Institute for Mountain Research's site, mountainresearch.org.)

Mountains 101 is a great introduction to the growing young field of mountain studies by one of the best academic programs.

True to its promise as an introductory and interdisciplinary course, the class builds slowly from a basic foundation and draws from many different disciplines. The course begins by defining mountains in geological and topographical terms, while always keeping their signicance to human cultures in the mix. One possible definition of “mountain” is premised on locals calling the high point near them a “mountain,” whatever its measured height might be. Lesson 2 discusses physical origins and historical theories of mountain building. Next comes climate, especially mountains’ effects on atmospheric pressure, weather patterns, and tree lines. Lesson 4 describes physiological effects of high altitudes and the varied ways that human
Read more
(Much of this review has already been published at the Institute for Mountain Research's site, mountainresearch.org.)

Mountains 101 is a great introduction to the growing young field of mountain studies by one of the best academic programs.

True to its promise as an introductory and interdisciplinary course, the class builds slowly from a basic foundation and draws from many different disciplines. The course begins by defining mountains in geological and topographical terms, while always keeping their signicance to human cultures in the mix. One possible definition of “mountain” is premised on locals calling the high point near them a “mountain,” whatever its measured height might be. Lesson 2 discusses physical origins and historical theories of mountain building. Next comes climate, especially mountains’ effects on atmospheric pressure, weather patterns, and tree lines. Lesson 4 describes physiological effects of high altitudes and the varied ways that humans have adapted to alpine environments, both long and short term. Other lessons tackle the water cycle, glaciers, mountains in the human imagination, natural hazards, biodiversity, preservation/conservation, and the uncertain future that mountains face.

The lessons are visually gorgeous, with dozens of photographs and video of mountainous places, especially the instructors’ home Canadian Rockies. The pace and tone are about right, with clear, straightforward explanations of topics. One of my few complaints about the course is that photos, often projected in the background behind the presenter, are not identified. Captions might be distracting, but I constantly find myself wondering just what and where are these enticing places we’re looking at. Expert guests sometimes make appearances; for example, Martin Price, who directs the Centre for Mountain Studies at the University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland. Each lesson includes a “tech tip,” in which two experienced guides give practical advice on planning and preparing mountain trips, as well as an interactive map that highlights mountains featured in that lesson. The course is part of Coursera.org’s offerings; so far it’s been technically flawless.

Mountains 101 is well worth the time of anyone who lives, works, or plays in and around mountains. Some of it may seem basic to specialists, but it’s meant to be an introduction. I’m learning (and re-learning) a lot, despite my slipshod study habits (I keep finding myself up against the Sunday deadline for each chapter). While always mountain-centric, the course also functions as a remedial lesson in a variety of topics (e.g., geology, meteorology, the respiratory system).

I will pretend that I have passed each of the lesson-ending quizzes on the first try.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I really enjoyed this course. I have taken other MOOCs and this was definitely up there in quality. I've read a lot of the reviews and I agree with almost all of them. There are some areas that could be improved: Quizzes, pdfs of course notes, tech tips, background photo locations, etc. Pop quizzes were kind of weird. Asking me questions about what you're going to discuss, and then making me get the right answer before I can proceed? Kind of a strange teaching methodology.

I am quite familiar with travel in the mountains and fairly on top of mountain ecology but I wasn't as deeply familiar with the actual formation of mountains. It was also interesting to think about mountains from the point of view of peoples and cultures that have lived most of their lives there. I have been in mountains mostly for recreation and pleasure, The Sublime, as was referred to in the course. And it was a kind of constant reminder that you always keep in the back of your mind when you
Read more
I really enjoyed this course. I have taken other MOOCs and this was definitely up there in quality. I've read a lot of the reviews and I agree with almost all of them. There are some areas that could be improved: Quizzes, pdfs of course notes, tech tips, background photo locations, etc. Pop quizzes were kind of weird. Asking me questions about what you're going to discuss, and then making me get the right answer before I can proceed? Kind of a strange teaching methodology.

I am quite familiar with travel in the mountains and fairly on top of mountain ecology but I wasn't as deeply familiar with the actual formation of mountains. It was also interesting to think about mountains from the point of view of peoples and cultures that have lived most of their lives there. I have been in mountains mostly for recreation and pleasure, The Sublime, as was referred to in the course. And it was a kind of constant reminder that you always keep in the back of your mind when you're in mountains, that they have their own micro climates and weather systems and you need to be prepared to fend for yourself in all types of situations.

I would highly recommend this course to anyone who wants a good foundation in what it takes to make and be in mountains, not only for humans but all the other biota, too.

Like many other reviewers, I'm definitely interested in a follow up course that goes into more depth on some of the topics just scanned.

Well done guys!

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
by Pat Bowden completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
If you enjoy the great outdoors, stunning scenery or learning about a variety of plants, animals and geological processes, this course could be for you! Not only does it explain how mountains are formed and degraded, it also teaches us about glaciers, the water cycle, and why mountain habitats change as the elevation increases. Mountain ecosystems are visited and adaptations of plants and animals to life in the cold, rugged landscape and sparse atmosphere are described. Various specific mountains are featured in the discussion of mountains in folklore and legends. The effect of climate change on the world’s mountains is analysed. As well, each week features a short video with practical tips on a different aspect of hiking and camping in the mountains.

An interactive world map is available most weeks to locate mountains and ranges discussed in the course videos, and the weekly course notes are a handy memory-jogger of many main points. Specialists in a range of fields provi
Read more
If you enjoy the great outdoors, stunning scenery or learning about a variety of plants, animals and geological processes, this course could be for you! Not only does it explain how mountains are formed and degraded, it also teaches us about glaciers, the water cycle, and why mountain habitats change as the elevation increases. Mountain ecosystems are visited and adaptations of plants and animals to life in the cold, rugged landscape and sparse atmosphere are described. Various specific mountains are featured in the discussion of mountains in folklore and legends. The effect of climate change on the world’s mountains is analysed. As well, each week features a short video with practical tips on a different aspect of hiking and camping in the mountains.

An interactive world map is available most weeks to locate mountains and ranges discussed in the course videos, and the weekly course notes are a handy memory-jogger of many main points. Specialists in a range of fields provide short segments and there are even visits from two well-known public figures. Although it is a 12-week course, the weekly time commitment is not large.

I thoroughly enjoyed this course.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 7 months ago
by Thomas E M Doria completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
This is by far the best free online course I have studied through MOOC, and I have done several in a range of different subjects. The subject of the course is of course fascinating, and essential learning in these times. The course relates mountains and their nature to the current issues surrounding the global ecosystem, climate change etc., giving a very sound elementary education in how this all works, as well as covering every aspect of the alpine environment from how it's formed to what lives there, how and why. But the main reason I rate the course so highly is that the production values are by far the best I have seen for a course of this kind. I don't know what budget they had but they certainly made the most of it. The course has some stunning visuals and includes a high standard of professional location shoots. It also gives interviews with a host of professional scientists and other experts in various fields around the world. By the time the course is done a relative begin
Read more
This is by far the best free online course I have studied through MOOC, and I have done several in a range of different subjects. The subject of the course is of course fascinating, and essential learning in these times. The course relates mountains and their nature to the current issues surrounding the global ecosystem, climate change etc., giving a very sound elementary education in how this all works, as well as covering every aspect of the alpine environment from how it's formed to what lives there, how and why. But the main reason I rate the course so highly is that the production values are by far the best I have seen for a course of this kind. I don't know what budget they had but they certainly made the most of it. The course has some stunning visuals and includes a high standard of professional location shoots. It also gives interviews with a host of professional scientists and other experts in various fields around the world. By the time the course is done a relative beginner to the subject will not only know a lot more about mountains, but will really want to continue learning and above all, get out and enjoy them.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
by Mary Harding completed this course.
I loved this course. I enjoyed David and Zac's teaching styles as well as the graphics and video clips. The professionals interviewed were informative and well spoken. I chose not to race ahead with the course, but rather to savour each lesson. I shared what I learned with my dog-walking partner, who may now take the course herself. I appreciated learning about so many aspects of mountains from their geology to their glaciation and to the cultures of mountain people around the world. I will use the information I learned in my work. I have a biology and geography degree from long ago as was delighted to be reminded of what I already knew and to learn information that is new from when I was in school. The course was well put together. I may even take it again! I would certainly enjoy a second course on the same topic. Well done and thank you. Oh yes, and I liked the tech tips too.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 8 months ago
Anonymous audited this course.
This course spread over 12 weeks introduced me to a range of different topics from a wilderness/mountain point of view. This included physical geography, geology, biodiversity, ecology, climate change, indigenous and modern cultural impacts on mountain regions.



For me it filled a gap and provided a complementary course to enhance reinforce knowledge gained from other courses in the fields of ecology, climate change, geology, physical geography and paleontology et al.

The course does not require extensive preknowledge and can be taken "for interest" as well as a supplement to more advanced studies. There is something for everyone here.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
by Melissa Anderson completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Loved Mountains 101. A true survey course covering from mountain geology to art to human physiology to climate change. Great visuals photos videos charts. Profs Zac and David were great, as were the many guests from different universities and from Parks Canada. You can tell that a lot of work went into putting the course together, including fun extras like the interactive map of locations visited and the tech tips at the end of each session. While the course is introductory, there is a level of detail that will challenge you if it is not your field, e.g. Geology, in my case.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I live in Jasper National Park and figured this course would be a refresher for what I already know. It was not - it gave me an international perspective on mountains as intricate and intrinsic members of a world system. The science is faultless, the accompanying photography is jaw dropping and the layers of information took me from science to humour back to to science and through to rooted cultural understandings. Take this course, it will open the mountains up wide for you.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
At first I wasn't sure if the course content would be beyond me in the sense that my studies were in a completely different field. I was pleased to see that not only was the course material fascinating and comprehensive, but presented in an appropriate pace and offered many opportunities for self learning and learner engagement. I am a member of a hiking group and ever since I've completed the course, I've been telling all my hiking friends that they should take this course, it's that good!

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 9 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
An excellent course!

It's a very comprehensive study of mountains from different perspectives. It's an interdisciplinary course combining disciplines like geology, hydrology and glaciology , to name a few.This is a great example of how best interdisciplinary courses can be.

Videos are excellent with beautiful images. The backdrops where the presenters present are equally beautiful.Presenters are knowledgeable and present the content with very simple and clear explanations. Wherever the content is difficult, it's made simpler by breaking it into parts. Tough concepts are explained with visual aids. The appearance of guest experts on the screen and their explanations are interesting and they help a lot to understand the content.

Quizzes are simple, you are helped through all your attempts to pass them. It's quite evident that they are meant for core learning and not for mere passing. For me, it was wonderful to pass a quiz in first attempt! Ident
Read more
An excellent course!

It's a very comprehensive study of mountains from different perspectives. It's an interdisciplinary course combining disciplines like geology, hydrology and glaciology , to name a few.This is a great example of how best interdisciplinary courses can be.

Videos are excellent with beautiful images. The backdrops where the presenters present are equally beautiful.Presenters are knowledgeable and present the content with very simple and clear explanations. Wherever the content is difficult, it's made simpler by breaking it into parts. Tough concepts are explained with visual aids. The appearance of guest experts on the screen and their explanations are interesting and they help a lot to understand the content.

Quizzes are simple, you are helped through all your attempts to pass them. It's quite evident that they are meant for core learning and not for mere passing. For me, it was wonderful to pass a quiz in first attempt! Identifying mountains in the map was equally wonderful, it helped me to learn them thoroughly.

Forums are good. The instructors answer smallest of your queries and provide other resources as well. This is unique-- they want you to learn, know more, and in depth.

I'm all praise for this course. It is a unique experience to learn and know about mountains.

I still keep learning about them and expect U Alberta to produce still more MOOCs on them! My heartiest thanks for the whole team!

If you love mountains, this course is for you!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Mountains 101 was a very interesting and informative course outlining just about everything you'd like to know about our worlds mountain ranges. Diverse topics cover not only geology, but history, cultures and how the weather has shaped our mighty landscapes. Each week had the right amount of info with questions to keep you challenged. Highly recommended for anyone but especially those who love to get outdoors in the worlds spectacular playgrounds.
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5.0 10 months ago
by Alberto Pincherle completed this course.
This Mountains 101 course is certainly worth taking it. It gives you an idea of all aspects that concern Mountains, it's enjoyable and easy to follow also for non-native English students. Teachers are indeed very good and their passion for mountains is transmitted to the students.

It is well organized, has an area on Tech Tips on mountains and one on where mountains are.

I'm really looking for a Mountain 201 course.

Thanks Professors David and Zac!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 9 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Very well taught, great and fantastic teachers, excellent chapters to read and review and learn about all aspect of mountains around the world.

As an avalanche safety instructor in Canada, this course was very valuable for me and expend my mind and comprehension about all kinds of subject related to mountains.

I recommended this course to everybody that is in love with nature, to anybody who wants to learn about the earth and the mountains!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
5.0 10 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
If you are thinking to yourself, 'can I really take a university level course, actually enjoy it and then have what it takes to complete several lessons on (((Mountains))) - Then you have found the right place to start - the lessons are gripping - the video's are truly beautiful & incredibly dynamic!

Zac & David are the type of teachers, that will make you hungry for more - I can hardly wait for the next lessons on Mountains to begin.
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5.0 10 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
An absolutely delightful course. It was easy to start and stop individual units if needed- and extremely well organized. And the photography was incredible. I will hold all other on line classes to this standard. (I'm in my 60's and a complete techno-idiot, so if I say it was easy to navigate and a joy to take you can believe that anyone with a love of the mountains and outdoors and with basic computer savvy will love it.)
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5.0 10 months ago
by Ross Ehalt completed this course.
Great course! The technology worked great which is essential in this type of learning environment. The "lectures" were well organized and the amount of content was challenging but not overwhelming. The quizzes encouraged me to review the content which helped to solidify the learning. My only worry is that this MOOC was so well done that any others that I take may leave me disappointed if they are not up to this standard.
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5.0 9 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Fascinating, multi-disciplinary course, really well organized and researched, many experts share their knowledge, useful animations, graphs and images help you understand much better and it's not demanding in terms of homework and time, only a small quiz at the end of each unit that helps you remember what you've learned. This is what MOOC courses should be like. Thank you very much to everyone who put it together!
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5.0 4 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Mountains 101 made me want to hug a mountain, and to learn more about conserving and protecting our water towers. The "About this course" section perfectly describes the content, and what to expect - which is basically an "introduction to everything mountains". The delivery is engaging, and the pictures, videos, and graphics all added value. I highly recommend this course, and hope for Mountains 201!
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5.0 5 months ago
by Johanna Truijens completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Great course, at the correct level of difficulty. Covers a wide range of disciplines, magnificent photography, and so interesting that I completed it in less than a week (I am retired). I live close to the Pyrenees, with a stunning view of them from my house, and am strongly attracted by mountains, so this was right 'up my trail.' I strongly recommend it.
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5.0 7 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This is the best course I have ever taken (including college and grad school). Creatively conceived and beautifully presented. The instructors were great. The guest speakers, field trips, tech tips and interactive map were all exceptional. If you have even a passing interest in being alive on this planet, do yourself a favor and take this course.
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