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COURSES & IGEP REQUIREMENTS   |   Global Change Center

Our interdisciplinary curriculum requires that each IGC Fellow take at least 8 hrs of core coursework and complete a collaborative, student-led capstone project.

This includes a series of three 1-credit seminar courses and two electives (5 elective credits total): one on science communication and the other to explore a global change topic beyond one’s own disciplinary study.


Students will take three Interfaces of Global Change Seminars (1 credit each, 3 credits total) 

The three IGC seminars comprise a discussion of primary literature and activities designed to explore the four primary themes of the IGC program: (1) global change; (2) science in society; (3) collaborative team science; and (4) professional development. Each week, students will be required to read and discuss primary literature and participate in activities with their peers and the IGC Faculty. The three IGC seminars should be taken sequentially to build upon concepts from each course. All IGC seminars are 1 credit, graded as pass/fail, and listed as GRAD 5134 courses in the timetable.

  1. IGC First Seminar (Spring semester, 1st year in IGC) – Designed for students new to the program. This seminar includes discussions and exercises to build community and shared understanding of interdisciplinary global change science that serves as a touchstone for your PhD program. Core topics cover the interfaces of global change, how science and scientists can inform public policy and otherwise influence global change, science communication and career planning.
  2. IGC Second seminar (Fall semester, 2nd year) – Intended for fellows who have already taken the IGC First Seminar. Topics include exploring interdisciplinary team science; the science-policy interface; environmental justice; and additional focus areas selected by students in the course.
  3. IGC Third seminar (Spring semester, 2nd year) – Intended for fellows who have already taken the IGC First and Second Seminars. This seminar will focus on career planning, with an exploration of careers at the science-policy interface and practice of communication tools needed for an effective job search.

Students will take one of these two courses (2 credits minimum):

  • Communicating Science (GRAD 5144) *this popular course fills up quickly!!  Be sure to submit it during the first opportunity for course request during the semester prior to your intended enrollment
  • Outreach in Biology (BIOL 6004) *taught by GCC Affiliate Dr. Dana Hawley, next potential offering is Fall 2023 semester

Students may request a substitution for the Science Communication elective by submitting the following form to the IGC Program Coordinator:

IGC Change to Plan of Study approval form: [ PDF | DOC ]

Students will take one additional elective course (3 credits):

Students should consult with faculty, the curriculum committee, and the IGC website to review potential courses that complement their regular plan of study. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the IGC, course approvals are determined on a case-by-case basis. For example, a course approved for one student might not be approved for another, as it may not add the necessary breadth to your specific field of study.

We strongly recommend submitting the approval form before taking the class to ensure it will be accepted as your Global Change Breadth Elective. You can even submit it for approval when you create your Plan of Study.

Global Change Breadth Electives must:

I. Add interdisciplinary breadth to your plan of study (i.e., something outside your disciplinary topic)

II. Should meet at least two of the following three criteria:

a) Examines the intersection of science & society.

b) Is relevant to global change.

c) Helps build community among IGC Fellows (i.e. there must be other IGC Fellows taking the course with you)

Students must request approval of the Global Change Breadth elective by submitting the form linked below to the IGC Program Coordinator

IGC Global Breadth elective course approval form [ PDFDOC ]

Extracurricular, no course credit:

The IGC Capstone Experience is an extracurricular, student-led project under the mentorship of GCC faculty. The capstone experience is designed to provide at least three of the following learning outcomes:

  1. Practice skills that promote successful team-based collaboration such as project management, team principles, managing team dysfunctions, constructive feedback, conflict management, ideation, after action review, and so on.
  2. Characterize the differences among and barriers to multi-, inter-, and/or trans-disciplinary projects and develop skills for working successfully on such projects, including working across disciplinary differences of jargon, reward structures, methods, dissemination standards, certification, meta questions, and knowledge structures.
  3. Apply skills for working at the science/society interface, for example by engaging stakeholders, explicitly considering applications of new knowledge, addressing ethical implications, making connections to policy, or otherwise showing the relevance of your work to the challenges of global change,
  4. Demonstrate communication skills (any media)

The Capstone Project Proposal Form (linked below) is due by the conclusion of the student’s participation in the IGC Third Seminar course. Students are encouraged to complete the capstone project by the end of their third year, but at the latest the project must be completed prior to graduation and with enough time to complete the final report and present the work to the global change community.

IGC Capstone Experience Policy [ PDF ]

IGC Capstone Project Proposal Form [ DOC | PDF ]

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    IGC Capstone Projects , home

    The IGC Capstone Experience is an extracurricular, student-led project under the mentorship of GCC faculty. Learn more about past and in progress IGC Capstone Projects.

In addition to coursework, IGC Fellows are also required to:

  • Attend IGC workshops on topics such as policy, communication, and/or analytical skills for integrating and interpreting large amounts of data from diverse fields
  • Participate and present in the IGC Graduate Research Symposium each year
  • Participate in Global Change Center sponsored events to include the Distinguished Public Lectures


In addition to coursework, IGC Fellows are also strongly encouraged to:

  • During their tenure in the program, host a seminar speaker relevant to the IGC IGEP in any seminar series (EEB, FREC, ENT, etc.) -OR- Serve on the IGC seminar committee responsible for hosting 1-2 major seminar speakers per year
  • Participate in the IGC Graduate Student Organization

Students typically complete their primary coursework during the first two to three years as an IGC fellow, and then advance to candidacy in their respective department. The three seminars must be taken in order, but the timing of other required courses is flexible.

Each student’s schedule varies, but this is an example timeline:

  • Fall:  Attend 2 mandatory informational sessions about IGC
  • November: Apply for Admission to the Program
  • January: Admittance to IGC IGEP program
  • 1st Spring Semester as a fellow: IGC First Seminar (GRAD 5134)
  • 1st Fall Semester as a fellow: IGC Second Seminar (GRAD 5134)
  • 2nd Spring Semester as a fellow: Science communication elective (GRAD 5144 or BIOL 6004)
  • 2nd Spring Semester as a fellow: IGC Third Seminar (GRAD 5134)
  • 2nd Fall Semester as a fellow: Global change science and policy breadth elective
  • By the end of 3rd Spring Semester as a fellow: Complete IGC Capstone Project



Note: These are the current requirements, and all Fellows entering the program in the Spring 2020 semester or later must follow these requirements. Fellows who entered the program prior to Fall 2020 but have not yet taken the former 3-credit IGC capstone course should take the IGC Third Seminar course and complete the IGC Capstone Project. Questions? Contact the Program Coordinator or the Curriculum Committee Chair.