Core Natural Science Program

In response to the call by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS)  for a revised undergraduate core curriculum, the Department of Astrophysics & Planetary Science has designed the Astronomy (AST) Core Science Suite, a set of six independent lecture courses and their associated labs designed to fulfill the 2-semester Natural Science requirement for non-science CLAS students under the provisions of the Mendel Science Experience (MSE).   On a rotating basis, non–MSE versions of these courses are offered to students in the Villanova School of Business (VSB). In addition, the Department offers two meteorology courses (the MET Sequence), which are open to all students and present VSB students a non-astronomy alternative for meeting their Natural Science requirement.

The courses in the AST Core Science Suite and the MET Sequence are topically diverse, and have been devised to provide our students with foundational knowledge of the physical Universe, both here at home and as far away as the farthest galaxy.  

The six courses in the AST Suite are: 1) The Birth and Death of Stars, 2) How Old is the Universe?, 3) Planetary Skies and Landscapes, 4) Life in the Universe, 5) Earth-Our Habitable World, and 6) Earth-A Cosmic Connection. These courses place the Earth in its physical context, including detailed comparisons of geophysical processes with those operating on the other planets in the Solar System, examine the Earth-Sun connection and the effects of the Sun on Earth’s climate, and address such basic questions as “Where do we come from?”, “How old is the universe?” and “Are we alone?”, all of which have fundamental metaphysical, as well as physical, implications. 

The courses in the MET Sequence are 1) Severe and Hazardous Weather and 2) Climate Change: Past and Present.  They complement the AST Suite with a timely and topical look at weather and its effects on human life.  These courses cover such phenomena as tropical cyclones, “Nor-easters’, thunderstorms, etc, and their effects on health, agriculture, and commerce.  Global warming is presented in the context of Earth’s climate history, with a detailed description of the techniques used to uncover Earth’s climate history and to predict its climate future.  The possible effects of global climate change on our environment and the resulting economic and geopolitical consequences are examined