AGI: 77% of colleges think climate studies is a science course


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The American Geosciences Institute has published a study which claims that Earth and Space Science courses, which include a substantial element of climate studies, is not a prominent part of the US high school curriculum, because a small number of colleges do not accept that Earth and Space Science is a “laboratory course”.

According to the report;

One of the points that arose from the 2010 summit was the perception that school districts were not offering high school Earth and Space Science courses because of the belief that colleges will not accept these for admission, as Earth and Space Science is not universally considered to be a laboratory course.

To test out this assertion, in 2015, AGI examined the acceptance policies of 175 four-year institutions of higher learning, to determine whether or not they accepted a high school Earth and Space Science course for admis- sion. At least four colleges and universities were con- tacted in each state and the District of Columbia. These represented both public and private institutions of various sizes.

In many cases, current admission requirements were clearly posted on the institutions’ web sites. When this was not the case, AGI staff contacted admissions offices directly for information. The results were as follows:

  • 77.7 percent of institutions did accept an Earth and Space Science course for admission.
  • 13.7 percent did not have specific science course requirements for admission.
  • 8.6 percent did not accept an Earth and Space Science course for admission, as these institutions stated that they did not consider it to be a laboratory course.

These findings clearly contradict the common assumption that, overall, colleges and universities find a high school Earth and Space Science course unacceptable for admission. There is still, however, a perception among a minority of institutions that an Earth and Space Science course is not a laboratory course.

This report, while only a snapshot of a landscape that is continually shifting over time, provides a perspective on the current state of the Earth and Space Sciences in U.S. secondary education. Although the Earth and Space Sciences are accorded equal status with the Life and Physical Sciences in national standards and guidelines, this emphasis is not manifested in practice, as indicated by state graduation requirements and secondary science assessments. The absence of an AP Earth and Space Science course and examination further attests to the subject’s subordinate status as compared to other sciences.

However, Earth and Space Science courses have a higher rate of acceptance for admission to four-year colleges (77.7 percent), than was originally assumed.

It is worth noting that students who do not receive a commensurate education in the Earth and Space Sciences are less prepared for the challenges and opportunities that await them in adult life …

Read more:

While I find it horrifying that over 77% of US colleges think learning a bit of dogma qualifies as a science education, I believe the day will come when America attempts to rebuild her damaged scientific institutions. On that day America will discover she owes a huge debt of gratitude, to the handful of courageous college and high school administrators who held the line against officially sanctioned superstition, who fought to keep the memory of the scientific method alive, who did everything in their power to protect their students from being indoctrinated with politically convenient pseudoscience.


A quote to connect Earth and Space Science courses to climate change wasn’t provided in the original post. To correct this oversight, the following is an excerpt from the fourth page (marked page 2) of the AGI report provided in the Read More link:

Attendees at the summit, which included representatives from federal and state agencies, universities, science societies, school districts, and industry, formed working groups to explore what was happening across the country with regard to:

  • Perception of Earth and Space Science courses by school systems (graduation requirements, high stakes assessments, and standards);
  • Status of college acceptance of high school Earth and Space Science courses;
  • Challenges to teaching Earth and Space Science topics such as evolution and climate change in schools;
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September 2, 2015 6:16 am

But from a practical perspective though, it is probably extremely difficult for a credible university to maintain a degree program in Earth and Space Sciences. You’d have to be a died in the wool, complete goldfish of a true believer to accept this bunk as “science” at first glance.

Reply to  Claudius
September 2, 2015 6:25 pm

“But from a practical perspective though, it is probably extremely difficult for a credible university to maintain a degree program in Earth and Space Sciences.”
This statement is ridiculous on the face of it. Al Gore’s exploration of Nat Sci a revered institution of highter learning has been the rotten foundation of industry and political narrative that is now too big to fail. All political sciences students should take a “soft” science” course think of the wild benefits that the super wealthy have been able to wring out of the policies… YUP his entire science requirement….Go figure.

September 2, 2015 6:25 am

It is worth noting that students who do not receive a commensurate education in the Earth and Space Sciences are less prepared for the challenges and opportunities that await them in adult life …

Just what in these courses prepare students for things they will run into in their adult life? And how have previous generations of students survived their adult lives without these courses?
The only thing I can think of is that it may teach them to be skeptical and to recognize politicals disguised as science.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  ddpalmer
September 2, 2015 7:43 am

A lot of people in education make these vague-one-off statements, it’s a problem with almost all curriculum development these days, where they confuse the specific content of a technology with the general knowledge of geography, physics, biology, chemistry, etc…
My grandfather used to tell me something to the effect: “if you use to learn a tool correctly you will be able to figure out how to apply to different problems.” He taught me a lot about leverage and multiplied effort, how a saw works, not what it does, and the way to select the right striking object for the job, (aka, don’t use a sludge hammer when a tack hammer will do). The simple principles always come back as useful knowledge, even though I may never use it for the sheer joy of suspending a 57 Chrysler LeBaron from the undercarriage of a viaduct again, (statute of limitations expired on that one in 1981).

Reply to  ddpalmer
September 2, 2015 7:59 am

My jaw dropped at that incredible statement too. Wonder what evidence backed up that sanctimonious and hyperbolic statement?

george e. smith
Reply to  ddpalmer
September 2, 2015 9:00 am

Well if only 77% think it’s a science course; it clearly isn’t.
Everybody knows that the consensus threshold is 79%.
Besides if it uses averages, it is beyond the scope of laboratory courses, since it is quite impossible to observe, or even detect an average of anything.
You can only calculate an average after the fact, and then it is far too late to experimentally observe it.
A best, it’s a stat math course. Math isn’t science; it’s an art form.

M Seward
Reply to  ddpalmer
September 2, 2015 10:03 am

I think what is meant by the quote is that students will not be properly indoctrinated to participate in the great renewables boondoggle or general scaremongering that is CAGW. They will not get a job with Greenpeace or any of the other, myriad scamster fronts and sheltered workshops and as for say a spot at the UN well forget it. Not even an internship!

Reply to  ddpalmer
September 2, 2015 1:50 pm

It prepares them for acceptance by comrade social justice warriors, and so as to avoid being sent to the gulag for wrong thinking…

September 2, 2015 6:43 am

What I want to know is — how did they train all those crows?

george e. smith
Reply to  beng135
September 2, 2015 9:02 am

Crows are already far too smart to be trained by humans.

Reply to  george e. smith
September 2, 2015 4:28 pm

Actually, I did have a crow once for a pet who fell out of his nest when a baby.
Incredibly intelligent birds! Easy learners if you bribe them with say, cat food. They love cat food! My crow even once tried to open a can of cat food with an electric can opener. Was very angry about it not working quite right.

September 2, 2015 6:46 am

It is worth noting that students who do not receive a commensurate education in the Earth and Space Sciences are less prepared for the challenges and opportunities that await them in adult life …

As if the ideological slant of the paper was not obvious enough, the author had to drive it home with the above statement. BTW it is not worth noting, not in the least.
On the bright side, about 9% of colleges understand the difference between courses promoting political agendas/ideologies and courses teaching science.
Well on second thought 9% ain’t that bright. Actually kind of dim.

Robert Ballard
September 2, 2015 7:09 am

“Number Experiments” as a lab section.

September 2, 2015 7:19 am

How about astronomy? Is that a laboratory course? Or only if you dissect meteorites?
And how much of Albert Einstein’s physics took place in a lab? (answer = none)
Glaciology? Well maybe the study of ice crystals is a lab course.
Plate tectonics?

george e. smith
Reply to  Frederick Colbourne
September 2, 2015 9:10 am

Anywhere that electromagnetic radiation can go, is part of a lab.
So how do you study ice crystals, in YOUR concept of a lab, without communication with your ice crystals via EM radiation ??
I would say that the study of meteorites is geology. They have to be on the earth, to get studied.
Astronomy is the ultimate in lab science.
How astronomers fathom so much from just a few radio waves of various frequencies (very wide range); has always awed me.

September 2, 2015 7:29 am

Earth Sciences does cover Glaciology, Plate tectonics, Volcanology and a fair bit of Chemistry too.
It may be politicised (so might anything) but there’s no reason to assume it has been politicised.
It is a science.

Reply to  MCourtney
September 2, 2015 8:03 am


Reply to  MCourtney
September 2, 2015 10:01 am

How embarrassing. I agree with MC.
Earth science was my freshman HS course and but it didn’t really have a formal lab (neither did Bio, Chem or Physics. They were sort of rolled into the normal class time.)
First time I ever saw a topo map. Or a stereo view of a mountain. And, what with living in Buffalo, we visited some moraines and eskers.

Bruce Cobb
September 2, 2015 7:42 am

By an odd coincidence, 100% of those 77% enjoy the government-funded gravy train resulting from believing that it’s “science”.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 2, 2015 12:35 pm

Grant MONEY….for money they’ll say anything, otherwise how will they keep those labs open?

Jim G1
September 2, 2015 7:53 am

The analysis of the various spectrums of electromagnetic radiation collected in astronomy is very much “lab work”. The “politicizing” comes when theories are many times expressed as facts as in when viewing gravitational disturbances they are desribed as “viewing dark matter”. They are gravitational disturbances that require the theory of dark matter to explain why they do not fit the standard model. The politics involved are internal scientific community politics. And my argument is with the way such results are expressed as fact and not theory.

Someone who can do math
Reply to  Jim G1
September 2, 2015 5:33 pm

spectra, no such thing as spectrums

Reply to  Someone who can do math
September 2, 2015 9:31 pm

@ someone who can do math
Physics – spectrum, eg the separation of light by wave length like light through a prism to give a rainbow.

Science expert Emerald Robinson explains what the electromagnetic spectrum is.

Calm down it's a joke
Reply to  Someone who can do math
September 3, 2015 12:50 am

-a is the plural form of -um in Latin.

Reply to  Someone who can do math
September 3, 2015 6:24 am

Spectra is fine as is spectrums, the plural of spectrum in English and used in the US.

September 2, 2015 8:07 am

Earth and space science includes astronomy, geology and meteorology. How much of this is about climate, how much is about changes of climate, and how much is about climate change after the end of the LIA? It seems to me that modern climate change is not a major part of whatever earth and space science teaching is going on America’s high schools, and “a science education” as in “learning a bit of dogma qualifies as a science education”.

September 2, 2015 8:08 am

why not……it goes hand in hand with the “politics of remedial underwater puppeteering” classes

September 2, 2015 8:32 am

As a tenured faculty who lectures university-level introductory Earth and Space Science courses, I think the issues are being somewhat confused in our discussion here. Firstly “laboratory course” means the students are put in a lab and do things like test rocks and thermal radiation experiments and splash about with fresh water and high salinity water etc.. If it is a course conducted as a lecture-type class only, it is not classed as a “laboratory course”. Most universities require that a certain fraction of the student’s science component are “laboratory courses”. That is not a bad thing; surely it’s a good thing to require a component of their science experience involve direct observation and experiment.
Secondly, the quality of high school Earth and Space Science teaching strongly depends on the quality of the Earth and Space Science courses those teachers attended at university. Most of these high school teachers were Education majors, not Geoscience or Physics majors, at university and they only attended introductory Earth and Space Science courses at university. It is very important that these introductory undergraduate courses be rigorously science-based and data-based, and not clouded by glib propaganda.

george e. smith
Reply to  JaneHM
September 2, 2015 2:20 pm

So Jane; you got my attention when you mentioned the students doing lab measurements on “thermal radiation”.
As a physicist, I don’t ever use that term, unless I mean the broad band radiation emitted by a “body” (any body) solely as a consequence of its Temperature, and not dependent on the nature of the material that comprises that body, (in its ultimate theoretical form of black body radiation).
I say theoretical, because no actual real material has 100% absorptance of even a single frequency of EM radiation, let alone all frequencies from zero to infinity; excepting only the two end points. So BB radiation is a fiction that cannot be observed.
But real bodies at non zero Temperatures, can emit EM radiation that is a function of their Temperature.
So I am curious, as to what sort of “thermal radiation” would your students be measuring in their laboratory, that is relevant to “climate studies”.
Some people, like “the science guy” think that thermal radiation from objects at half of the sun’s surface Temperature is relevent to climate; like a 100 watt light bulb.
But I would think studying thermal EM radiation from a source at 288 K Temperature, the earth mean surface or lower atmosphere temperature, would be more appropriate.
So what do they use as a thermal radiation source, in their climate experiments.
Of course I’m leaving out the obvious solar radiation source.

EdA the New Yorker
Reply to  george e. smith
September 2, 2015 5:09 pm

I discovered empirically that an instant (3 hour) cure for the students in a Modern Physics course becoming too fond of their teacher was to assign a Stephan-Boltzmann experiment with a minimum temperature of 298 K.

September 2, 2015 9:03 am

I would have a hard time excepting Climate Studies as a laboratory science course, especially as a credit for a lab sci course, simply because the prerequisites should be pretty steep. Climatology is a multidisciplinary study based on computer models, so a student would have to be well versed in Calculus, Statistics, Numerical Analysis and the computer languages FORTRAN and R, to due anything remotely interesting in a lab.
[And yet “excepting climate science” may be more correct than ‘accepting climate science (as science)’ .mod]

September 2, 2015 9:06 am

It is on par with psychology, psychiatry or social science then?

September 2, 2015 9:24 am

Contrary to what most of the commenters are saying here, this has little or nothing to do with the politics of global warming. JaneHM is exactly correct. Earth and Space Science is certainly a science course, and not much different than the astronomy and geology courses taught at most colleges. Sometimes those courses are taught as lab courses and sometimes not. Unlike physics, chemistry, and biology, it is sometimes hard in Earth and Space Science (and geology and astronomy) to find enough experiments that can be done in a lab to make the course a lab course. But ultimately, whether it’s a lab course or not is determined by how the course is designed and not by the subject matter per se. Some were suggesting that the difficulty of making ESS a lab course was preventing it from becoming more common in HS, but the AGI data suggests this is not the cause.
Either way, any suggestion that ESS is not true science is badly mistaken. Don’t let the politicization of a related topic (global warming) cause anyone to jump to absurd conclusions about ESS in general. It’s as much a science as anything can be.

David Smith
September 2, 2015 9:50 am

Mathematics can be studied without going any where near a lab.
It’s still a branch of science.
David (Maths teacher)

george e. smith
Reply to  David Smith
September 3, 2015 10:37 am

It’s just a tool. We made it all up in our heads, and we continue to make new math stuff up all the time.
All you need is a few axioms, and some rules for manipulating things.
How about this:
Axiom # 1 Two points define a line.
Axiom # 2 Two lines define a point. (this is a plane geometry)
Axiom # 3 There are at least four points.
The first theorem in this geometry proves that there are at least seven points.
You can’t prove that there are any more than seven points.
But you can study the conic sections in this geometry, in which a circle is a special case of a hyperbola. and all circles intersect each other at just two special points, called the “circular points at infinity.”
As far as I know, this special “projective geometry” has no known useful application.
Maybe we can use it to study climate science.
PS it was a third year course in a BSc ( pure math curriculum).

george e. smith
Reply to  David Smith
September 7, 2015 2:49 pm

So David, since you say you are a teacher of Mathematical Science, perhaps you could answer a question that has always puzzled me about progress in mathematics science over the history of science.
Do you happen to know who it was that is credited with doing the first experimental scientific research and measurements on the properties and values of the Roman Numerals ??
Can you recommend a text book that teaches how to do arithmetic in Roman numerals ?
I wonder how much of Roman Physics research studies were done with Roman numerals.

Jason Calley
September 2, 2015 11:26 am

“AGI examined the acceptance policies of 175 four-year institutions of higher learning” and also “At least four colleges and universities were contacted in each state and the District of Columbia.”
Am I missing something? 51 times 4 (or more) should be at least 204. Did they just toss out 29 (or more) responses? Maybe CAGW only knows about 43 states.

September 2, 2015 12:25 pm

I am really disappointed to see this kind of article on WUWT. The substance of the article fails miserably to justify the headline. The headline implies the article is about “climate studies.” But the article is about an AGI survey about high school “Earth and Space Science” courses. The word “climate” appears NOT ONCE in the 402 words cited from the abstract. As others have already pointed out, earth and space sciences include a lot of things–geology, geophysics, astronomy, and so on–which are generally recognized as scientific disciplines. I don’t see anything here about “climate studies.”
Like what is happening with increasing frequency in peer reviewed journals, this article should be RETRACTED.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
September 2, 2015 3:10 pm

Well, this wasn’t part of what you quoted to justify the headline. Still, I’ve taken the time to skim the link, and then to follow it through several sources to find out just how much “climate change” is being taught in these courses. Did you? I did, and there is a lot more than just “climate change.” I still think you’ve written a “sensationalistic” article like we’re used to seeing from the other side.

September 2, 2015 12:52 pm

Meanwhile The University of Central Lancashire offers an MSc in homeopathy.

September 2, 2015 1:51 pm

if it is not physics then it is not science

Reply to  ut8t5
September 2, 2015 3:12 pm

Ah yes, because chemistry is just applied physics, and biology is just applied chemistry and so on. Trouble is, physics is just applied maths….

george e. smith
Reply to  jimmi_the_dalek
September 3, 2015 11:09 am

Math(s) is just a tool. We made it all up out of whole cloth.
Statistics is just a sort of numerical origami; an overly glorified “numerology”.
But it is an exact discipline, since you can only do statistics on real numbers that are already EXACTLY known. (which does not mean they represent the exact values of something else).
You can’t do statistics on imaginary or complex numbers or variables; only on previously known real numbers that are listed in a (finite) data set. Those numbers can be quite arbitrary. There is no need for any two (or more) of the real numbers in a data set to be related in any way.
You could make up a data set, consisting of say; your birthday, your SS number, your age in Neptunian years, today’s high temperature in your bathroom, and so on, and ALL of the algorithms of statistical mathematics will still work for that data set, and the results be just as valid as those obtained for any other data set.
The output from any statistical mathematics algorithm, performed on any data set, has no intrinsic meaning or value whatsoever. you always get the exact same value whenever you apply a stat algorithm to a given data set; no uncertainty about it.
But it doesn’t mean anything. You can make up any excuse you want as to why you did this algorithm on that data set; and assert that it is important. Maybe it is to you.
In particular, stat math algorithms cannot predict anything that relates to other real numbers that are not members of the data set, that is being statisticated.
For example, you can calculate the average value of the real telephone numbers (ten digit) that are printed in the latest copy of your local yellow pages directory.
You will always get an exact answer, but you cannot be assured that it is even a valid telephone number; let alone that someone will answer ir if you dial it (if you can)
All real telephone numbers are real numbers (also integers). But there is no assurance that the average calculated from your yellow pages is even an integer, let alone a real phone number.
Yes some people make a living, trying to convince other people that their statistical origami result really is a swan, or a jumping frog. But that is just their own opinion. It’s just fiction.

george e. smith
Reply to  jimmi_the_dalek
September 7, 2015 3:03 pm

Well there is one fundamental problem with calling Mathematics a ” Science “.
There is not one single element of ANY branch of mathematics, that can be experimentally observed anywhere in the universe. Such things don’t exist; because they were all created from nothing by human artists, so they have no physical existence.
For example from geometry: There are no points, no lines, no planes, no cubes, not triangles, no circles, no spheres, no ellipses, no whatever. All of those things are made up notions.
But we do use them to describe (pretty much exactly) the behavior of the physical models that we also made up in our heads, that appear to behave like, and exhibit properties similar to what we can observe and measure, happening out there in our universe.
Our fictitious math does not describe how the universe works, but it does describe how fictional models we dreamed up will behave, and we try to devise such models, that seem to replicate what we can observe to be actually happening in the real universe.
So if science is the formal study of the real physical observable (by any means) universe, the pretty much by definition, Science and mathematics are mutually exclusive.
So NO !
Mathematics is not science; it is Art.

September 2, 2015 2:06 pm

Oh come on…. this is beyond ridiculous.
You are equating Earth and Space Science with climate studies? Total nonsense. What happened to Geology, Astronomy, Astrophysics – and you are equating these to “dogma” – wait till Lief catches you!

Jim G1
Reply to  jimmi_the_dalek
September 2, 2015 2:57 pm

Plenty of “dogma” is now present in all branches of science where concensus can keep one from being published or receiving grants. Of course, climate science is the super example due to its having been politicized so extremely. Skeptics have always had a hard time but now even more so. And the greatest scientific advancements have generally come from skeptics. Einsteins thought experiments were considered fringe science, rightly so, until proven by the solar eclipse star offset observation.

Reply to  jimmi_the_dalek
September 2, 2015 4:34 pm

As the daughter and granddaughter and greatgrandaughter of a series of Astronomers, there is NO ‘settled science’ in that field. It warps and changes and has fashions (black holes) and dogma and faith and poor observations overturned by better equipment, etc. This is true of many fields.
We do make some progress, though, over time but holding firm on real information is easily swamped by the latest ‘fun facts’ that are nearly pure speculation.

D.J. Hawkins
September 2, 2015 3:15 pm

Is there a list of the 8.6% of colleges that DON’T accept watermelon science courses? I’d like to short list them for my 9-year old when it comes time.

Reply to  D.J. Hawkins
September 2, 2015 8:17 pm

If we are still having these discussions when your nine year old enters college, we are truly hosed.

Stuart Jones
Reply to  D.J. Hawkins
September 2, 2015 9:11 pm

I have already told my 15 year old daughter that she will not be going to Uni QLD or UWA due directly to Cook and Lew being sheltered there and so bringing the reputation of the uni’s into doubt.

b fagan
September 2, 2015 10:23 pm

Well, Mr. Worrall, why bother even teaching reading? Teach a child to read and they might not believe you when you say things like “climate science is dogma”, because they’ve read the science instead.
For people who can read, who like science, and think space science is useful (as for cost benefit of Landsat, for example) just do a search on “high-school cubesat”

September 5, 2015 10:06 am

“In that day America will discover she owes a huge debt of gratitude, to the handful of courageous college and high school administrators who held the line against officially sanctioned superstition, who fought to keep the memory of the scientific method alive, who did everything in their power to protect their students from being indoctrinated with politically convenient pseudoscience.”
What about the parents? Educational choice and freedom includes the optional use of public schools, charter schools totally regulated by teachers’ unions, charter schools totally independent of teachers’ unions, distance learning, private schools, private tutors, and homeschooling.
1. Human intelligence is not imparted automatically by institutionalizing the children all day.
2. There is no one way to teach children to read, and there is no one way to effectively teach all students.
3. Educational freedom is what allows some children to get a better education.
4. Common Core is a nationalized curricula. It phases out other sciences and emphasizes a “holistic approach” in which sustainable development, population, climate science and evolution are mainly taught to children in state schools. Bill Gates is behind its funding and implementation.
5. Children should know how the basic technologies around them work, and understand a little bit of the histories of how these were developed and why. I hear some of your children have graduated from high school and college and are complaining about the use of plastics, rubbers, mass manufacturing, chemicals, preservatives, airplanes and cars. My question is, are they “educated,” or not?

September 5, 2015 10:21 am

Also, keep in mind that as many as 6 million children are on a psychoactive prescription drug in order for them to sit in the institutionalized educational setting.

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