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Online classes

Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

BIOL 115: *Intro To Environmental Scienc

Course Description

Survey of environmental science, ecosystems and human impact. Cross-listed as BIOL 115 and ENVS 115. Course meets multicultural graduation requirement.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Midterm and Final



Syllabus Contents

Textbooks

Required

  • Cunningham, W.P., M. Cunningham, and B.W. Saigo. (2014). Environmental Science, A Global Concern (13). New York: McGraw-Hill.
    • [ISBN-978-0-07-353254-7]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.


Course Overview

Welcome to BIOL/ENVS 115 Environmental Science, online! This course will provide a solid foundation in scientific approaches to environmental problems, and hopefully their solutions.  Each week we will focus on different issues or problems relating to environmental issues through our discussion; these are reinforced and expanded in readings in the text, Environmental Science, A Global Concern.  A major component to most environmental science courses is increasing the level of environmental education of students.  Hopefully, when this class is finished you will have a better understanding of the basic principles of ecology and a working knowledge of the terms used in environmental issues.  By having a better understanding of these two principles, I hope that you will be able to make more informed decisions about the environment in which we live.  



Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.


Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Examine the basic principles of ecology and apply them to natural and artificial systems.
  2. Critically evaluate the role and impact of humans on natural systems, including the impact on biodiversity.
  3. Describe the principles of population dynamics, and relate them to humans and other species.
  4. Analyze causes and effects of land, air and water pollution.
  5. Define sustainability, and understand the economic, social and political implications of sustainable practices.
  6. Describe the relationships between climate and biomes.
  7. Illustrate how matter and energy cycle in ecosystems, including the basic geochemical cycles.
  8. Describe sources, uses and problems associated with renewable and nonrenewable energy.

Grading

Grading Scale
Grade Points Percent
A 540-600 90-100%
B 480-539 80-89%
C 420-479 70-79%
D 360-419 60-69%
F 0-359 0-59%
Grade Weights
Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (16) 80 13%
Papers (6) 180 30%
Quizzes (4) 40 7%
Midterm Exam 100 17%
Final Exam 200 33%
Total 600 100%


Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1
Assignment Points Due
Introductions -- Wednesday
Discussion 1: Comparing Types of Conservation 5 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 2: Effects of Added Phosphorous on Aquatic Systems 5 Friday/Sunday
Paper 1: Ecology and Society 30 Sunday
Quiz 1 10
Week 2
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3: Biome Impacts 5 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 4: Aldo Leopold and the Land Ethic 5 Friday/Sunday
Paper 2: Generalist Versus Specialist Birds 30 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A
Week 3
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5: Human Population Dynamics 5 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 6: IPM 5 Friday/Sunday
Paper 3: Disease Status 30 Sunday
Quiz 2 10
Week 4
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7: Clear Cutting 5 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 8: Types of Diversity 5 Friday/Sunday
Midterm Exam 100 Sunday
Week 5
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9: ENSO 5 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 10: Mining 5 Friday/Sunday
Paper 4: Power Plant Construction and Societal Impacts 30 Sunday
Quiz 3 10
Week 6
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11: Automobiles, Fuel Efficiency and Air Pollution 5 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 12: Personal Water Use 5 Friday/Sunday
Paper 5: Drinking Water and Consumer Confidence Reports 30 Sunday
Week 7
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13: Personal Energy Consumption 5 Wednesday/Sunday
Discussion 14: Green Tags and CO2 Offsets 5 Friday/Sunday
Paper 6: Limits on Urban Sprawl 30 Sunday
Quiz 4 10
Week 8
Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15: The Policy Cycle and Wicked Problems 5 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 16: Tragedy of the Commons 5 Friday/Saturday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Total Points 600

Assignment Overview

Discussions

You will have two discussion assignments per week, worth 5 points each. For each discussion, you are required to post a minimum of 3 times: an initial post and two peer responses. You will not be able to see your peers' posts before submitting yours. You should focus on completing the discussions in the order that they are assigned. There is no length requirement for discussion posts, but they must fully address the given prompt. You are not required to provide citations from our textbook in your posts.

Posts should be completed and turned in by Wednesday (first discussion) and Friday (second discussion) of each assigned week.

Papers

Papers should be completed and submitted to the Dropbox by Sunday of each assigned week. There will be six papers to complete.  Each will be worth 30 points, assigned on the basis of completeness, correct spelling, neatness and following all formatting guidelines (12 point Times New Roman font, 1 page in length not counting your title header or literature cited and 1 inch margins).  All dropbox submissions must be in either MS Word 2003(.doc), MS Word 2007(.docx) or rich text format (.rtf) or you will not receive a grade for that assignment! Also, when you place a paper in the dropbox, it is automatically submitted to Turnitin.com, an online source that checks for plagiarism.  Turnitin.com will review your paper and assign a similarity score as a percent based on other works to which they have access. 

Quizzes

There will be 4 quizzes throughout the course.  There will be 2 quizzes before the midterm and 2 quizzes before the final.  These quizzes will be used to check your comprehension over the material up to that point.  Each quiz will be composed of 10 multiple choice questions worth a total of 10 points each (for a total of 40 points possible in the class).  You will have 20 minutes to complete each quiz.  The quizzes are due Sunday of the week in which they are assigned.

Midterm Exam

The exam will consist of 40 multiple-choice questions and 4 essay type questions. The exam is proctored and you will not be able to use your textbook or notes.  You will have 2 hours to complete the entire exam.  Please keep in mind that D2L cannot grade essay questions, therefore when you take your midterm, your initial score will not reflect your answers for these questions. The midterm exam must be completed by Sunday of Week 4.

Final Exam

This comprehensive exam will consist of 80 multiple-choice questions and 4 essay type questions. The exam is proctored and you will not be able to use your textbook or notes.  You will have 2 hours to complete the entire exam.  Please keep in mind that D2L cannot grade essay questions, therefore when you take your midterm, your initial score will not reflect your answers for these questions. The midterm exam must be completed by Saturday of Week 8.


Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

Week 1: Understanding Our Environment; Science and Matter; Energy and Life
Readings
Chapters 1-3
Introductions
Take a moment to introduce yourself to the class.  Post your introduction in the appropriate Week 1 topic in the Discussions area of the course.  There are no points associated with your introduction.
Discussion 1: Comparing Types of Conservation
After reading the appropriate text and visiting the website Environmental History Timeline (link in the course), answer the following questions:  What are the fundamental differences between utilitarian conservation, biocentric preservation, modern environmentalism, and global environmentalism?  Which view do you feel is more appropriate?  Why?
Discussion 2: Effects of Added Phosphorous on Aquatic Systems
Historically, detergent companies added water-soluble phosphorous to their products to make your laundry bright.  Based on what you read about phosphorous, why do you think many communities have banned the use of these detergents?  What term is used to describe the effects of increased phosphorous levels on aquatic ecosystems?
Paper 1: Ecology and Society

Go to the journal Ecology and Society (link in the content area).  This web site presents the journal and includes research articles, debates, and discussions from many ecologists.  Find any prior issue and choose one article about a particular topic (Look to the upper right corner for the header titled “Find Back Issues” then click on any of the blue issue number links to see the articles for that issue).  For this assignment you must choose a primary research article.  Do not choose a review or opinion paper! 

Write a paper of at least one page in length (12-point font, double-spaced, Times New Roman font) that identifies what question is being debated.  Also, identify the position(s) taken in the article.  Submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.
Quiz 1
Covers chapters 1-3 of the textbook.
Week 2: Species Interactions; Biomes; Population Biology
Readings
Chapters 4-6
Discussion 3: Biome Impacts
Which two major biomes have been most heavily impacted by human activities? Give two specific reasons why these impacts have occurred. Based on what you know so far, what could be done to reduce our impacts on these biomes?  Where is the largest area of undisturbed habitat found on Earth? Why is this biome so undisturbed?  Do you think this biome will remain undisturbed in the future?  Why or why not?
Discussion 4: Aldo Leopold and the Land Ethic
Following the link in the course, read what Aldo Leopold had to say about the land and the land ethic.  With this information in mind, what do you think Aldo Leopold meant by integrity, stability, and beauty of the land?
Paper 2: Generalist Versus Specialist Birds

Go to the Cornell University All About Birds Website (link in content area).  Once the site loads, type in the name of one of the four birds listed and click “Go”.  When the “Results” page appears, click on the picture of the bird you searched.  This will take you to a page specifically for that bird.  Using the tabs, look at the range map and life histories of each bird.  Under the life history tab, you will find information regarding habitat, food, nesting, behavior and conservation.   You will need to do this for each bird.

  • Double Crested Cormorant (Cormorants)
  • Great Blue Heron (Herons)
  • Wood Stork (Stork)
  • American Robin (Thrushes)

Using the information provided in the website, answer the following questions. Assuming that generalist/opportunistic species are widespread and  more or less uniformly distributed, which of these species would you categorize as generalists and which might be specialists with narrow niche preferences or environmental tolerance ranges? Pay special attention to the species climate range, presence in densely populated areas, and evenness of their distribution throughout their range. You may want to look at the precipitation, biome, and climate maps across their range. Also, their diet also helps because a specialist eats only one or two things while a generalist may eat several different prey items. I would also suggest you do a Google search of each species to gather more information. 

Submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course. There are right and wrong classifications on this assignment.

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
Week 3: Human Populations; Environmental Health; Food and Agriculture; Pests
Readings
Chapters 7-10
Discussion 5: Human Population Dynamics
In the 1990 US Census, the population was approximately 260,000,000.  In the 2000 US Census, the population was approximately 285,000,000.  During the same time period, the total fertility rate was approximately 2.1 children.  At this total fertility rate, what would you expect the rate of population growth to be?  If this were true, what accounts for the 25,000,000 increase in the population?  What effect might obesity and diabetes have on current life expectancy?
Discussion 6: IPM
What is Integrated Pest Management?  What is a main goal of this management strategy?  An alternate method of pest control is the use of biological (living) agents to control pests.  What is the greatest risk in the use of these controls?
Paper 3: Disease Status

Go to the World Health Organization web site (link in the course).  Look up the current status of Ebola and Leishmaniasis, and compare them to a disease (of your choice) that occurs closer to where you live (consult Figure 8.6 in your text for information).

What organisms cause the three diseases?  What is their current distribution and prevalence? What environmental (think of natural environment, not their home environment) and social factors (that affect the environment) contribute to their spread?  Does any treatment exist for the diseases?  Submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course. Your answers should be in the form of a short essay of at least 1 page (12 point font, double-spaced, Times New Roman font).
Quiz 2
Covers chapters 4-10 of the textbook.
Week 4: Biodiversity; Land Use; Preservation; Restoration and Conservation
Readings
Chapters 11-13
Discussion 7: Clear Cutting

What is a clear cut and why is it so criticized in the US?  Imagine your family lives in a country where the average annual income per household is only $300.  However, you live in an area where the ground would support crops; all you have to do is cut down trees (clear cut).  What would you do?  How would you feel toward the family if they cut down all the trees to raise food or to provide additional income?  What effects might an increasing population have on this subsistence farming (see link in the course)?  Using the web, find a currently used viable alternative to this type clear cut subsistence farming and describe it in your post.

Discussion 8: Types of Diversity
List and define the three types of diversity.  Based on your reading, what is the most important kind of diversity?  Explain and justify your answer.
Midterm Exam
Proctored. Covers chapters 1-13 of the textbook.
Week 5: Geology and Earth’s Resources; Climate
Readings
Chapters 14-15
Discussion 9: ENSO
Review the discussion of the El Nino Southern Oscillation in your text. Go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) El Nino Southern Oscillation data page (link in the course).  Starting with 1991, use the data listed in the chart to answer the following questions:  In which year was El Nino greatest? Which year was La Nino greatest?  Next, go the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ENSO analysis and monitoring website (link in the course).  Using the pertinent links, discuss each of the following items:  1) El Nino and La Nina ocean temperature patterns from 1991 to the present.  2) The impacts of El Nino and La Nina on global temperature and rainfall patterns.   3) The impacts of El Nino and La Nina on your local temperature and precipitation patterns.
Discussion 10: Mining
List four methods of mining (they can be current or historical methods) and tell me which method poses the greatest risk to lotic (surface river and stream) ecosystems.
Paper 4: Power Plant Construction and Societal Impacts

Before building a new power plant, a utility company must gain permission and procure the required permits for construction from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  At this time, the policy of the EPA is to limit construction of power plants to clean burning natural gas systems (to reduce emissions of CO2).  One result of this policy is the reluctance of utility companies to build new power plants. California has recently experienced serious problems with their ability to provide enough electricity for its residents because of this reason.  One result of this problem is that utility rates in California jumped 500% to 600% in a one-year period.

With the above information in mind, write a short essay of at least 1 page discussing pros and cons of this EPA policy.  Be sure to keep in mind things like environmental impacts but also issues relating to social impacts due to higher electrical prices.  Submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.
Quiz 3
Covers chapters 11-15 of the textbook.
Week 6: Air Pollution; Water Use and Management; Water Pollution
Readings
Chapters 16-18
Discussion 11: Automobiles, Fuel Efficiency and Air Pollution
As technology increases, the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks also increases.  However, even though modern automobiles pollute less than older models, the overall rate of pollution due to cars and trucks has increased.  How can this apparent contradiction occur?  Think about things such as the number of miles driven, and the average number of drivers and cars on the road.
Discussion 12: Personal Water Use
How much water do you think you use annually?  Keeping this value in mind, go to the Personal Environmental Impact Calculator web site (link in the course) and calculate your actual annual use.  List your estimated and calculated water usage.  Was the calculated value more or less than your initial guess?  What steps could you take to reduce your water use?  You must give a value or answer to each question or the website will not function correctly.
Paper 5: Drinking Water and Consumer Confidence Reports
Go to the EPA Ground Water and Drinking Water webpage. Under “Consumer Confidence Reports” click on the “Find your local CCR” link on the right.  Click on the state in which you live. Type in the name of your water system or the City, Town or County in which you live.  Once you have done this, click on the “Search” button on the right.  Once your search information loads, scroll down to find the water system or district that serves your home (or the nearest system to you) by clicking on the blue link in the "CCR Website" column.  Alternatively, you can do a google search for your city.  For example, I would google “CCR Water Springfield Missouri”.  If you cannot find the information online, you may be able to request it directly from your water provider.  If you cannot find a water report, or you are on a private well, look for the nearest city of at least 10,000 people near you.  If none of the above work, email me the name of the city and state in which you live and I will help you find an appropriate CCR.  Once you have the report, review any information on the water quality or past violations for your system.  Write a short essay of at least 1 page discussing issues related to groundwater in your state and the area of the state in which you live.  In your paper, be sure and tell me the city and state in which you live.  Submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
Week 7: Conventional and Sustainable Energy; Solid, Toxic, and Hazardous Waste; Urbanization & Sustainable Cities
Readings
Chapters 19-22
Discussion 13: Personal Energy Consumption

Using the Home Energy Saver website (link in the course), determine how much energy you use annually.  Once you access the site you will need to submit your ZIP code and then hit the submit button.  Once you hit submit scroll down and enter the data required in all of the fields.  Once you have input all of the data, you will hit the calculate button.  Once you have done the calculations, a new page will open which allows you to do comparisons.  Initially the site will give summary information.  To view your energy use by appliance or type, please click on the blue link called "Details" next to “Summary.”  That will open a screen with all of your energy use by type.  You will need to add all of the KWh usage up to get your total.  If you have your electric bills for the last year you can just look up the amount of energy you used in your home instead of using the website.  Regardless of how you do it, once you have the values, answer the following questions:

If electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, how much is your annual electricity bill?  (Hint:  take the total energy in kWh X 0.10).  How would your bill change if you paid 25 cents per kWh?  Once again you MUST give a value or answer to each question or the website will not function correctly.
Discussion 14: Green Tags and CO2 Offsets
Many people feel that the greatest threat to the overall quality of the air comes from manufacturing and industry.  Few of us stop to think about our individual impacts.  Go to the Nature Conservancy webpage (link in the course) and fill out the data for each tab listed.  Make sure to calculate the energy usage for the entire household.  Calculate your carbon production and amount of offset needed for your total CO2 production.  What was the total amount of CO2 you produced last year?  If you wanted to offset this amount by 100% through the purchase of green tags, how much would it cost per year?  Could you easily afford this amount?
Paper 6: Limits on Urban Sprawl
Boulder, Colorado, has been a leader in controlling urban sprawl by limiting new construction and population growth.  One consequence has been skyrocketing housing prices. Write a short essay of at least 1 page discussing issues related to the impacts of the housing price increase on the availability of housing for poorer people.  Do you think this limit on who can live where is moral or ethical?  With this in mind, also discuss the impacts of urban renewal on the availability of housing and urban sprawl (urban renewal is very common).  How does this practice of renewal impact the poor?  Submit your paper to the appropriate folder in the Dropbox area of the course.
Quiz 4
Covers chapters 16-22 of the textbook.
Week 8: Ecological Economics; Environmental Policy; Law and Planning; Conclusions
Readings
Chapters 23-25
Discussion 15: The Policy Cycle and Wicked Problems
List, in order, the steps of the policy cycle.  The policy cycle doesn't work very well for "wicked" problems.  Why not?  Lumber harvest is thought to be a wicked problem.  Why might this be true?
Discussion 16: Tragedy of the Commons
The biggest threat to our natural world is human intervention.  We destroy or modify our surroundings to meet our needs at the expense of other species.  Review the article The Tragedy of the Commons (link in the course) by Garrett Hardin.  What is a commons?  If humans are such a problem, how does Hardin propose we solve the population problem?
Final Exam
Proctored. Covers chapters 1-25 of the textbook.


Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism

Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.

Non-Discrimination

There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late assignments of any kind will be accepted. The only exceptions are for documented deployment or serious illness.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.


Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.


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