Our climate is changing, and its impacts have been felt dramatically here at home. Recent weather events, increasing population, the impacts of and on the oil and gas industry, and many other factors effect Houstonians on a very personal level. In this class, we will look at our changing climate and its implications for the future of Houston and explore the following questions: How do we shift our economic values to match our ecological principles? What is the future flood plan for Houston? What does it mean to live in a “carbon-neutral” world? How do we live more closely in tune with the natural cycles of the Earth? We will try to build an understanding of climate change and its effects on Houston using a new reality and value set for the 21st century. Houston is at a crossroads, but a vibrant future awaits us if we are just sharp enough to see it and seize upon it.
We live in a time when the genetic instructions (genomes) of organisms are being decoded with increasing speed and accuracy. In this era of “genomics,” we hear about how this genetic data can be used to personalize medical treatment and improve society in general. In the media, we hear scientists tout the discovery of the gene for intelligence, or the gene that predisposes us to a particular disease. But what does all this really mean? In this class, we will examine how genetics work and how your own genetic code makes you unique. The course will focus on how genetic information is interpreted by the cell, how genetic traits are passed on from generation to generation, and how the genetic background of each individual contributes to their health and life history. We will also delve into some current issues of interest to scientists and non-scientists alike. Such topics will include cloning, the use of genetically modified organisms, and how your genome sequence can help predict and prevent disease with the promise of personalized medicine. (This class will not meet March 14.)
They’re coming! Scientists tell us there will be three billion or more of them. They will journey north from Central and South America to various destinations throughout the United States and Canada. The migrants making these intercontinental flights are birds. Some, like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, are so small that it is inconceivable that they could fly the 600 miles across the Gulf and beyond to Canada. Other tiny birds make epic journeys filled with life threatening dangers—not just once but twice they undertake these flights. These pilgrimage flights are truly miraculous migrations. Come learn about the migrations of a variety of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and other animals that can be observed in and near Texas as well as throughout North America. Find out when and where to experience these amazing events and join us for an eye-opening and mind-boggling inquiry into the world of phenomenal migrations of North America. (This class will not meet April 11.)