General Education

In the 1940s there was a growing general interest in Meteorology, particularly in the practical aspect of weather forecasting. This created a demand for course work to provide basic meteorological information to the non-major students. In 1948 Hans Neuberger introduced the course 'Weather and Man' as an elective suitable for non-technical students in other colleges. During the 1970s, 'Weather and Man' was taught by television tapes on several campuses and included direct telephone hookups for classroom discussion and interaction. Beginning in 1988 this course was offered by satellite transmission to a number of Commonwealth Campuses. This course continues to reach hundreds of students each year as "Weather and Society."

About quality education in Meteorology, Dr. Blackadar states: "I was always impressed with the way Princeton put their top-notch people in the lowest levels of undergraduate instruction. I remember taking a course in astrophysics, in which I was the only student in the course, and it was taught by a world-renowned astrophysicist. This makes sense if one is concerned about undergraduate instruction." As Department Head, Dr. Blackadar "tried to encourage our best people to teach our beginning-level course. This has paid off by influencing many students to become interested in Meteorology as a career, and it also brought this course a high reputation for quality among the non-technical students." Dr. Blackadar continues: "We always look at such courses as a kind of public relations, and Meteorology is in a unique position because most people are interested in weather. In teaching Meteorology, one is also teaching science. It's much more appealing to most people to be able to study scientific principles - using examples they are familiar with, such as weather events and other atmospheric phenomena, rather than things that go on in a laboratory. In essence, this becomes a unique responsibility because the Meteorology professor becomes an ambassador for science to the nonscientific community."

The tradition of a science course for non-technical students continues. William M. Frank former head of the Department of Meteorology, states: "I think the popularity is due to the fact that it gives students an opportunity to relate the scientific learning process to something they can observe firsthand. A large emphasis in this course has been to explain phenomena that can be observed, not only the daily weather but also optical phenomena and atmospheric and climatic variations you can see. So the students have a more natural relation to this course."