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Science 1121

Science 1121-20531 Mon/Wed 12:00 – 1:15 PM

Environmental Science–Earth and Biological Resources

Lecture Syllabus

South Georgia College Entry Program

Spring 2012

Instructor: Steven M. Thompson

Phone: (229) 249-9751

Email:            Web:

Prerequisite: Passing or exempting READ 0099

Text: Environmental Science: Toward A Sustainable Future, Wright and Boorse; ISBN 0-13-137544-X

Course Objectives: This is an interdisciplinary course covering environmental issues relating to the Earth's terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, weather, agricultural issues, waste and waste management, and geology. The environmental science courses SCIE 1111 and SCIE 1121 are totally independent. You may take SCIE 1121 without taking SCIE 1111.

This class will work to fulfill the General Education Learning Outcomes and CORE Curriculum Outcomes of South Georgia College:

*     Graduates will demonstrate sufficient knowledge of natural laws and processes to understand scientific issues in a modern society.

*     Graduates will demonstrate the ability to use appropriate technology to produce presentations and reports and/or to conduct research and data analysis.

*     Graduates will demonstrate the ability to understand mathematical information and perform mathematical manipulations to analyze data from a variety of sources.

Frequently Asked Question: How does this course transfer?

Answer: The core curriculum is composed of 60 required semester hours. 11 of those hours fall under Area D (Science, Math and Technology). This course will satisfy 3 of those hours. The other eight hours must come from your lab sciences (ASTR, BIOL, CHEM, GEOG, GEOL, PHYS).

Date                                                                                                                                      Topic

W Jan 4                                                                                                                               Sign in

M Jan 9                   Section 1: Sustainability and Ecology                                 Orientation and introduction

Tu Jan 10                                Last day to drop/add

W Jan 11                                                                                                          What is environmental science: ch 1

M Jan 16                                                                                                          No class: MLK Holiday

W Jan 18                                                                                                          Economics, and Policy: ch 2

M Jan 23                                                                                                          Basic needs: ch 3

W Jan 25                                                                                                          Populations and communities: ch 4

M Jan 30                                                                                                          Ecosystems: ch 5

W Feb 1                                                                                                           Biodiversity: ch 6

M Feb 6                                                                                                           Resource management: ch 7

W Feb 8                                                                                                           Section 1 Exam

M Feb 13               Section 2: Human interactions                                               Population growth: ch 8

W Feb 15                                                                                                         Development: ch 9

M Feb 20                                                                                                         The hydrologic cycle: ch 10

W Feb 22                                                                                                         Soil and land use: ch 11

M Feb 27                                                                                                         Global food needs: ch 12

T Feb 28                                                    Midterm                  last day to withdrawal with a "W" grade

W Feb 29                                                                                                         Vermin and other pests: ch 13

M Mar 5                                                                                                             Section 2 Exam

W Mar 7                   Section 3: Human energy needs                                          Fossil fuels: ch 14

M Mar 12                                                                                                          No class: Spring Break

W Mar 14                                                                                                          No class: Spring Break

M Mar 19                                                                                                          Nuclear power: ch 15

W Mar 21                                                                                                          Renewable energy: ch 16

M Mar 26                                                                                                            Section 3 Exam

W Mar 28                Section 4: Pollution                                                              Environmental hazards: ch 17

M Apr 2                                                                                                             Global climate change: ch 18

W Apr 4                                                                                                             Atmospheric pollution: ch 19

M Apr 9         Field trip to Valdosta's new 'state of the art' wastewater treatment plant at Mud Creek       Water pollution: ch 20

W Apr 11                                                                                        Solid and hazardous waste: ch 21 and 22

Fr Apr 13                                  Absolute deadline for any and all extra credit homework!

M Apr 16                                                                                                              Section 4 Exam

W Apr 18                                                                                                          Return to sustainability: ch 23

M Apr 23                                                                                                    Review and Final Exam preparation

W Apr 25                                                                      Final Exam during usual class time and place

Attendance: Class attendance is mandatory. Roll may be taken at any point, but will also be ascertained through completion of unscheduled, short, in-class assignments. If you must miss a class, you are responsible for the missing material. It is quite unlikely that you will be able to perform well on the exams, if you miss too many classes. Also, show up to class on time; I will not wait for you. And, if you ever are forced to be late, enter through the rear doors without disturbing the class. Furthermore, SGCEP mandates the following attendance policy, which I must enforce: "Because South Georgia College believes that learning is an active and interactive process, students are expected to attend classes regularly. Instructors distribute class attendance policies at the beginning of each new class. When students violate such policies, they are administratively withdrawn from those classes. If the withdrawal occurs before the mid-point of a term, the student will receive a "W" for the course. After the mid-point withdrawals will result in grades of "WF." The best policy for students to follow is attending classes regularly and keeping their instructors informed when problems arise."

Assessment/Grading: There will be five multiple choice exams: four topical tests, worth 10% each, delivered throughout the semester during standard class time, that cover the material within that section; and one comprehensive final, worth 40%, given during the time listed above. Make-up exams will only be offered under the most serious of situations, will require you to notify me a minimum of 24 hours beforehand, and will be given entirely at my discretion. They will be much harder than the regular exams, probably being of an oral or written short essay format, so I do not recommend going that route, unless it is absolutely necessary!

The remaining 20% of your grade comes from those participation assignments mentioned above, and from your attendance record. These points can all be considered bonuses — everybody should get their full value by just doing the required short assignment work, which will be very easy, and by showing up and participating in the course for every session. Furthermore, up to another 20% of various extra credit opportunities are available throughout the semester — I encourage you to take advantage of these!

Homework/Extra Credit Policy: As mentioned, an additional 20% course credit is available through extra credit work. Up to 10% of these can be descriptions of VSU science seminars relevant to environmental science that you attend (these will be announced throughout the semester); and write-up/reviews of relevant news stories, Web sites (that we have not visited in class), video documentaries, nonfiction books, journal articles, etc; and/or standard research-style papers. I will award credit based on the length and content of these pieces, in general around 1% per page, though they need to be more than just cut-and-paste blurbs. You need to hand in hard-copy for these pieces, not e-mail attachments. Furthermore, you absolutely need to cite all of your references — journals, newspapers, magazines, books, television series, and/or Web sites. Without proper citation, you will not be given credit for this work! And, any Web site used must be reputable — this is entirely my call. I will accept these extra credit pieces at any point throughout the semester, but absolutely no later than Friday, April 13. The remaining 10% of available extra credit comes from an optional essay on Exam #4. I will not warn you of this essay's topic, other than to tell you that it will most likely be provocative, and will require you to think and synthesize concepts learned throughout the semester to answer.

Breakdown for lecture portion of course:

                  Examinations                        4 Topical Exams (10% Each on Sections 1–4)                                                40%

                                                                        Comprehensive Final Exam                                                                 40%

                  Other Factors                        Short Assignments and Attendance Rosters                                                    20%

                  Extra Credit                            Homework and Seminar write-ups                                                                  10%

                                                                        Optional Essay on Exam #4                                                                 10%

                  Total:                                                                                                                                                       120%

Your final lecture grade is based on the standard scale. A: 100–90%, B: 89–80%, C: 79–70%, D: 69-60%, F: 59–0%, though I may uniformly lower the scale a point or two, depending on the distribution at the end of the semester.

Academic Honesty: Students are expected to maintain high standards of integrity. Never copy text or illustrations from a book or Website and represent it as your own — always cite your sources of information. Do not cheat in any manner! Using any type of aid on in-class assignments or exams, other than your own brain, is cheating. Dishonesty will not be tolerated, and any student misconduct will be filed as a non-criminal incident report with South Georgia College. Evidence of cheating will result in no credit for the assignment or exam, and depending on the case, could result in a failing grade for the entire course.

Disruptive behavior: You are adults and are expected to behave as such. I expect everyone to be considerate of their fellow students. Any disruptive behavior that interferes with the teaching of the lecture or disturbs other students or faculty will not be tolerated. This includes cellular phone and other non-class related electronic device usage during class time and any other non-class related communication between students. Any student who disrupts the class will be removed from the class and possibly dropped from the course.

Refer to the Student Handbook for further details, consequences, and definitions ( regarding academic honesty and classroom disruption.

Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act: By Federal law, grades cannot be posted by Name, Social Security Number, or other Personal Identifiers. Scores and student work evaluations will not be given over the telephone, by e-mail, or to another student. You must speak to me personally or wait for your official grades.

Student Assistance: The VSU Student Success Center (SSC) is available to all students. The SSC provides free professional and academic advising, peer tutoring in core courses, and campus job information. Phone: (229) 333-7570 or email:

American Disabilities Act: Students requiring classroom accommodations or modifications because of a documented disability should discuss this need with the instructor at the beginning of the semester. Students who have not presented validation for learning disabilities from the Regents' Center for Learning Disability (University System of Georgia) should complete all necessary paperwork and submit this to Ms. Valerie Webster, Director of Entry Programs, VSU University Center office 2037. The telephone number is (229) 293-6135. Students who have not presented validation for physical disabilities should also contact Ms. Webster. Students may also contact Ms. Annette Nation, Disability Services Coordinator for SGC, Powell Hall, Room 118 on the Douglas campus. The telephone number is (912) 260-4435.

What to expect and how to excel: This course will require you to think, duh. It will not be about rote memorization, although the vocabulary of science is an absolutely necessary component that will mandate some memorization. But remember, it is just English, and most words break down into roots that make sense. Sure, some of the descriptive roots are Latin derivatives, but most have uses in other English words as well. The big picture is what matters — how it all fits together, how all the parts relate to each other, how it all came to be. And, as the famous classical evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky stated back in 1973, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."* Evolution provides the single, unifying, cohesive force that allows all of life to be explained. It is to the life sciences what the long sought holy grail of the unified field theory is to astrophysics. Therefore, you will need to think about everything in this course in that light in order to be successful in the course!

As an instructor I can only facilitate your learning by offering good examples and by trying to explain phenomenon. It is your responsibility to truly understand and comprehend the concepts. You absolutely need to interact with me. If you do not understand things, discuss them with me — either in class or in person in my office. Decide to start working hard right away. It is impossible to blow off the beginning of the course and still get a decent grade, because everything builds off the initial concepts taught at the start of the course. You will need to attend class and take decent notes. My lectures do not come directly from the textbook; they incorporate examples from my own and others' actual research. It's all fair game for exams. Plus, I give those short assignments and pass attendance rolls around periodically throughout the semester. If you miss them, you lose out on a very easy 20% of your total grade. I also encourage you to take advantage of all extra credit opportunity. This can be up to another 20%, between the homework and seminar write-ups and the forth exam optional essay question. Get to know your fellow students — working together in group exam study sessions can be a big help. Furthermore, it is your responsibility to pick up your old exams. The comprehensive final is built directly off them! Above all else, try to have fun learning this stuff — biology is fun!

* The source of the original 1973 quote is a bit obscure though it has been cited as being transcribed from an article Dobzhansky wrote for the American Biology Teacher, 1973. 35, pp 125-129.

© 2013 Steven M. Thompson, acknowledgements and thanks to the Florida State University Biology Department for generously extending Web hosting and e-mail services beyond my FSU tenure.
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