Fall 2020: Hybrid course with asynchronous online content and weekly in-person campus class meetings (Tues. 12:30-1:45 p.m.)

Does it surprise you that the GPS on your phone needs to know about Einstein’s special and general relativity to work properly?

Are you confused by the claims and counter-claims in the current debate over global warming?  Have you ever wondered whether a nuclear power plant can explode like an atomic bomb? About how spy satellites work?

If you answer “yes” to questions like these, then Physics for 21st Century Citizens is for you. 

This is a mixed-format one-semester lecture/seminar course, with a focus on understanding the physics behind the headlines. Students will learn to describe the world around them in Physical terms, without extensive mathematics, and to use their new-found physics skills to critically assess issues in the headlines, through the eyes of a physicist. 

This course covers topics in the disciplines of Physics (plus a little Engineering, Medicine, Biology, Economics, Sociology and Journalism).

Who should take this course?

Anyone interested in understanding the physics behind the headlines and the challenges facing 21st century citizens.

More about this course

Course number: FNDS 1501

Number of Credits: 3

Next term offered: Fall 2020. Search UM-Dearborn Class Schedule to find out more

Dearborn Discovery Core requirements met: Natural Sciences


Meet your faculty member: Will Clarkson, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy

One of the benefits of taking a Foundations course is gaining a faculty mentor that can support you throughout your college career. Get to know Will Clarkson, faculty member for Physics for 21st Century Citizens.

As an observational astronomer, my day job involves using telescopes all around the Earth and in space to discover new things about the way the universe works (and, in particular, the Milky Way galaxy and the populations of stars it contains).  

However, I am also interested in what physics has to tell us about the solutions to more Earth-bound problems, and am excited to develop FNDS 1501 - Physics for 21st century citizens - to explore these issues with students at UM-Dearborn.


Have questions about this course? Email Dr. Clarkson at wiclarks@umich.edu.

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