Environmental Science – SCI 3010 Syllabus and Links


COURSE OUTLINE (2013-2014)

COURSE TITLE:                            ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE

COURSE NUMBER:                       SCI3010

QUARTER CREDIT HOURS:      4.5      

CONTACT HOURS:                        45 lecture hours

Instructor:                                          Ryan King

Contact info:                                      RKing@jwu.edu

Office hours:                                      By appointment

PREREQUISITE(S):                        None


This course presents major scientific concepts dealing with the biological and physical nature of the Earth System. A major theme is the impact of human population and economic growth on the biodiversity and ecosystems of our planet, considering how sustainable use of the world’s resources may be achieved for both developing and developed nations.  Topics such as energy, air, water or resource use, land use and agriculture will be discussed.


Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the student should have the ability to:

·      Define and match basic scientific principles with notable environmental phenomena; identify aspects of world cultures past and present that are in harmony with the trends of nature and those in discord.

·      Critically discuss major environmental impact and challenges between industrialized and developing societies; explore emerging phenomena in complex societies.

·      Interpret data, including analysis of numerical data, regarding the environmental impact of political or economic activities.

·      Justify by a logical analysis how local actions can impact the global environment; investigate contemporary movements in networked/collective intelligence.

·      Apply, when relevant, the use of the scientific method of inquiry; discuss how scientific theories shape our social interactions with human and non-human communities; consider the role of science as a mythology and its future potential.


This course will be divided into several units approximately equal in duration that attend primarily to these topics. Reading topics are REQUIRED, documentaries/videos are SUGGESTED

1.      Introduction to Environmental Issues of the 21st Century, Global change science and the Earth System: Read – Global Change and the Earth System: A Planet Under Pressure at IGBP.net and Black Swans and Bottom up Environmental Action at http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0208-king_blackswans.html; watch – The 11th Hour

2.      The Global Brain Storm: Maps, mythology and migration: human population, culture and the environment.   Read: War, Waste and Moneylenders at http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1113-ryan_king.html;   Watch BBC Planet Earth – The Future part 1

factoring social and economic instability into ecological catastrophe and the decline of western civilization
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1113-ryan_king.html#JZQqy5PapdLhFv3s.99
factoring social and economic instability into ecological catastrophe and the decline of western civilization
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1113-ryan_king.html#JZQqy5PapdLhFv3s.99
factoring social and economic instability into ecological catastrophe and the decline of western civilization
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1113-ryan_king.html#JZQqy5PapdLhFv3s.99

3.      The physical environment, the physical structure of the earth, issues related to chemistry, physics and geology.  Arctic melting as an indicator of abrupt climate change.   Read Climate Code Red, watch – How we wrecked the Oceans – TED

4.    The Biological Environment:  evolution and ecology.  Endosymbiosis, Gaia Theory, and Hologenome theory of evolution.  Read: Margulis, Lovelock (provided)  Watch

5.    Population Issues:  demography including topics such as age structure, population control issues, the demographic transition and the population changes in developed and developing countries.  Read:    Watch: What a way to go – life at the end of empire

6.   Agriculture:  food security, food safety, related issues such as water resources, soil and climate, pesticide, fertilizer and chemical use and genetic engineering. Read: Food security  Watch – Vanishing of the Bees

7.Energy:  depletion, alternative fuels and energy, fossil fuels.  Read: The Problem of Growth;  Watch – The Big Fix

8.    History of Human Interaction with the Environment: how cultural choices or technological advances impact the earth.  Topics might include hunter-gatherer societies, agricultural societies, urbanization, utilitarian or biocentric approaches to managing resources and human impact on climate change.  Read:

9.      Pollution, Solutions and Revolution: The future of environmental science and action; the evolution of environmental ethics, cultural movements and conflict.  Read: Is the Earth F**ked?;   Watch – Poison fire

10.  Final Discussion and Presentations





REQUIRED TEXT BOOK(S)/SOFTWARE (to be purchased by students… or maybe not):

Miller, Living in the Environment, 17th edition, Cengage, 2011 ISBN-13 9780538735346

Alternate text

Friedland, Environmental Science: Foundations and Applications, 1st edition, Freeman, 2011 ISBN-13 978-1429240291

Alternate text

Cunningham, Principles of Environmental Science, 7th Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2012, ISBN- 978-0-0-7340276-5


1.      Final grades will be based on at least four graded items, one of which will be an examination administered at the officially scheduled final exam time.

2.      A portion of the class grade may be assigned on the basis of class participation and timeliness of performance.  Specific final discussion topics and presentations will be assigned by the middle of the term.

3.      Research papers may be required using correct MLA format and language usage.

4.      Weight percentages of these criteria will be determined by the professor at the beginning of class.


~ by farnaby on December 8, 2013.

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