No region on Earth is immune from natural disasters. As we gain scientific understanding into the causes and nature of such phenomena, we become better able to mitigate the effects of disasters. Yet as the world's population continues to grow, an increasingly large number of people are at risk. This course examines the science behind different types of disasters and our ability or inability to control and predict such events. From this course the student will gain an appreciation of natural disasters beyond the newspaper headlines, and will better understand how the effects of disasters can be reduced. There is an urgent need for people from all walks of life to better understand the scientific principles behind the occurrence of natural disasters. City planners need to know where and where not to site buildings. Politicians need to make scientifically informed decisions. Emergency management officials need to understand the nature of a potential disaster and ways to mitigate such an event. Journalists need to report scientifically accurate information.