EES 112: Introduction to eNvironmental Science
Instructor: Dr. Suresh Muthukrishnan
Class Times: MWF 9:30 - 10:20 AM; Lab:...
(including your iPad) during class/lab times is prohibited. Violation will result in one whole letter grade penalty
each t...
Date Day Topic Reading assignments Lab / Assignments
13 Jan M Introduction Course information and syllabus, How to Read a ...
21 Mar F Mineral Resources
(1) 2013 Herrington, "Road Map to Mineral Supply", (2) 2013 "Expanding
boundaries of exploratio...
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2014 spring-ees 112 syllabus


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2014 spring-ees 112 syllabus

  1. 1. EES 112: Introduction to eNvironmental Science Instructor: Dr. Suresh Muthukrishnan Class Times: MWF 9:30 - 10:20 AM; Lab: 2:30 - 5:30 PM Wednesdays Office: 119F Townes Science Center Phone: 294 - 3361 Office Hours: Open Door policy - just drop in any time I am in my office or make an appointment. Course Description and Goals: The major objectives of this course are to explore planet Earth and understand how human activity impacts the Earth system. At this point in Earth’s history, humans are now the single greatest environmental force on the planet. Humans literally dominate the Earth system. How extensive is this domination? The data should surprise you and may open your eyes to environmental problems facing society today and hopefully enlighten you to solutions to protecting our environment. The course will consist of a blend of in-class discussions, problem analysis, and homework/lab exercises. It is beyond the scope of this class to cover all environmental topics or to cover all solutions to the problems we discuss. The main purpose of this course is to help you understand the complex issues, think logically using facts and figures to make informed decisions, and to provoke you to ask thoughtful questions related to various issues. However, the specific learning objectives are centered on you, such that you: (1) Become knowledgeable about the major global environmental challenges we face (2) Understand the fundamental biophysical processes that govern environmental systems (3) Become familiar with the connections and feedbacks between earth systems and human activities (4) Realize how environmental science relates to your everyday life and society as a whole (5) Become a better steward of the earth (6) Have an increased capacity to integrate information on and communicate about environmental issues (7) Learn how to critically analyze scientific data, interpret results, and draw reasonable conclusions. Textbook: There is no explicit textbook for this course. Instead I will be providing you with all the reading materials electronically (via the class Moodle site and other means). It is essential and absolutely necessary for you to have read the assigned material BEFORE coming to class so that we can have an informed, thoughtful, and engaging discussion on these topics! Come to class prepared and ready to discuss and ask questions! There will be simple quiz at the beginning of the class on reading assignments. Classroom Policies: (1) Attendance: Attendance is MANDATORY! More than three unexcused absences can result in the loss of one letter grade on your final grade (for example from B+ to B). Social engagements will not be counted as an excused absence. It is the responsibility of the student to present evidence of illness or any other acceptable reason for missing class. If you have a special situation which will require you to miss several classes, you should talk with me as soon as possible so that we can deal with your absence before the end of the term. Attendance will be taken daily. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to find out what you missed and pick up any materials (assignments, handouts, etc.) distributed during class. (2) In-class and out-of-class learning: I expect you to come to class prepared! It will be necessary to have read the assigned readings and have thought about the reading BEFORE coming to class. You will be responsible for the information covered in the assigned readings for the exams. (3) Late Assignments: During the course of the term you will be receiving a number of out of class assignments. The due date will be clearly specified for each exercise. All work will be due by 5 pm on the date specified. I will NOT accept late work. A grade of “0” will be recorded for anything received after the due date/time.  (4) Makeup Work: If you miss an exam, lab, or assignment, you will be allowed to make up the work only if you are able to provide evidence for your absence along with a letter from the dean confirming it. Otherwise a grade of “0” will be recorded.   (5) Recording: Use of laptops or recording devices are NOT permitted in class. Recording of classroom discussions or lectures in any format by any means is NOT permitted. We will be using iPad in this class and use of iPad’s  for anything other than permitted class activities is not acceptable. (6) Communication: Use of cell phone, texting, chatting, and any social media interaction through smart devises
  2. 2. (including your iPad) during class/lab times is prohibited. Violation will result in one whole letter grade penalty each time. Repeat violations will result in fail grade. (7) Plagiarism in any form or magnitude will not be tolerated and will result in fail grade for the course and reporting to the dean. Any writing assignment will be submitted through turnitin system on moodle. This system will analyze your writing and provide feedback on originality of your work.  Read Furman’s academic integrity  handbook to understand what is expected of you. When in doubt, clarify it with me rather than making assumptions. Course Evaluation: My evaluation of you will be based on a combination of exams, assignments, labs, and projects. The breakdown of the grading and the grading scheme are as follows (expressed as a % of the total grade): Tests (3 x 20%) - 60 % Final Exam - 20 % Labs / Assignments - 20 % Exams: There will be three tests over the course of the term as well as a cumulative final. All three tests will be conducted during the lab period to give you ample time to complete the exam. The tests will cover the content discussed in class, labs, assignments, videos, and the assigned readings. I will discuss the test format a few days before each test. The dates for the tests are: Exam #1 – February 5th Exam #2 – March 5th Exam #3 – April 2nd Final Exam Monday, May 7th @ 8.30 am Assignments / Labs: Over the course of the term there will be a number of lab exercises and out of class assignments that will allow you to apply your new knowledge, to utilize your understanding to analyze environmental issues. Many of these exercises will involve some quantitative analysis, which even math-phobic folks should be able to handle! You will be expected to spend good bit of time outside of the class working on these. There is also a reflective writing component associated with each lab for this class. Project: The class project will give you an opportunity to explore a topic of interest more in depth. The specific nature, objectives, expectations, and requirements of this project will be discussed later in the term. Grading & Scale > 93 % A 90 – 93 % A- 87 – 90 % B+ 83 – 87 % B 80 – 83 % B- 77 – 80 % C+ 73 – 77 % C 70 – 73 % C- 67 – 70 % D+ 63 – 67 % D 60 – 63 % D I wish for you all to get an A in this class – however, realize that it will require motivation, hard work, dedication, and full commitment towards that goal. Set aside your doubts and give your best. Students with Special Needs: If a student with a disability desires an accommodation, it is the student’s  responsibility to identify him or herself as having a disability and to make a formal request for appropriate accommodations. The Disabilities Services Coordinator at Furman is Gina Parris. Academic Dishonesty: Integrity gives the educational enterprise its legitimacy. Honesty, respect, and personal responsibility are principles that guide academic life at Furman, in and out of the classroom. Academic misconduct in any form (plagiarism, cheating, inappropriate collaboration, and other efforts to gain an unfair academic advantage) threatens the values of the campus community and will have severe consequences, such as failure in the course and/or suspension or dismissal from the university. Please familiarize yourself with Furman’s Academic Integrity and  Plagiarism policies available at
  3. 3. Date Day Topic Reading assignments Lab / Assignments 13 Jan M Introduction Course information and syllabus, How to Read a Journal Article 15 Jan W Planetary Boundaries 1) Rockstrom et al. 2009 “A Safe Operating Space for Humanity”, 2) Rockstrom and Karlberg, 2010 "The Quadruple Squeeze", Watch: Rockstrom’s “Ted” Talk "The Great Squeeze" (reflective writing) 17 Jan F Human Transformation of the Planet (1) Karieva et al. 2007 “Domesticated Nature” (2) Steffen et al. 2007 “The Anthropocene” Watch: “Welcome to the Anthropocene” 20 Jan M 22 Jan W Human Population Dynamics (1) Estimating Populations Assignment” Watch: (1) “How Did We Get So Big So Fast” and (2) “The Miniature Earth Project” Population problems & Discussions 24 Jan F Human Population Growth (1) Bloom 2011 “7 Billion and Counting” Watch: “7 Billion People” 27 Jan M Carrying capacity 1) UNEP 2012 “One Planet, How Many People” Watch: "How may people can live on planet Earth?" 29 Jan W Anthromes Ellis and Ramankutty 2008 “Putting People in the Map: Anthropogenic Biomes of the World, Watch: “Human Influence on Ecology Mapped” The Ecological Footprint Calculation and Discussion 31 Jan F Land Transformation (1) Foley et al 2005 “Global Consequences of Land Use”, Watch: (1) Global Land Cover Change and (2) The Past 100 Years of Human Development 3 Feb M Agro ecosystems (1) Ramankutty et al. 2002 “People on the Land” , Watch: Jon Foley Ted Talk “The Other Inconvenient Truth” 5 Feb W The Green Revolution (1) Friedland 2012 “Green Revolution”, Watch: “The Green Revolution” Test 1 7 Feb F Impacts of Agro ecosystems (1) Tilman et al 2001 “Forecasting Agriculturally Driven Global Environmental Change”, (2) Greenpeace “Dead Zones” 10 Feb M Genetically Modified Food (1) Whitman 2000 “Genetically Modified Foods” (2) Pennisi 2010 “Sowing the Seeds for the Ideal Crop”, Watch: (1) Food Biotechnology and (2) Genetically Engineered Crops Assign: Meat and Fish Data Analysis 12 Feb W Meat (1) Worldwatch 2004 – “Meat: Now It’s Not Personal”Watch: (1) Hidden Cost of Burgers and (2) The Meatrix Greenbrier Farms (reflective writing) 14 Feb F Fisheries (1) Pauly 2008 – “Global Fisheries: A Brief Review” , Watch: (1) Global Fishing Stocks and (2) Project Ocean 17 Feb M Sustainable Fisheries Pauly et al. 2002 – “Towards Sustainability in World Fisheries”, Check Out: South Carolina’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative 19 Feb W Sustainable Agriculture (1) Horrigan et al. 2002 “How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture”, Watch: (1) Sustainable Farming and (2) Losing Ground Furman Farm Visit (reflective writing) 21 Feb F Organic Food (1) EU 2010 "Organic Food and Farming Practices”, Watch: (1) Organic Foods 24 Feb M 26 Feb W Local Food DeWeerdt 2009 “Is Local Food Better?”, Watch: (1) Eat Here, (2) Eating Locally and (3) Grocery Store Wars Happy Cow Creamery Visit (reflective writing) 28 Feb F Forests and Deforestation History (1) State of World Forests 2012, Watch: (1) Importance of Trees , (2) Unchopping a Tree 3 Mar M Deforestation (1) Union of Concerned Scientists “Root of the Problem” and (2) Deforestation Wiki, Watch: (1) Deforestation in the Amazon and (2) Deforestation in Africa 5 Mar W Soil Reading: (1) The Importance of Soils, (2) Kaiser 2004 – “Wounding Earth’s Fragile Skin”, Watch: Soils Test 2 7 Mar F Soils Degradation (1) Montgomery 2007 – “Is Agriculture Eroding Civilization’s Foundation” 10 Mar M 12 Mar W 14 Mar F 17 Mar M Nitrogen Cycle and Human Health (1) Townsent etal, 2003 Global Nitrogen Cycle and Human Health, (2) Gupta et al 2008 Health Issues Related to N Pollution, Watch: Nitrogen Cycle 19 Mar W Phosphorus Cycle (1) Cordell et al. 2009 “The story of Phosphorus”, Watch: The Phosphorus Cycle Tour of the "Living Machine" (reflective writing) Tentative Syllabus MLK Holiday Spring Break Guest Lecture Spring Break Spring Break
  4. 4. 21 Mar F Mineral Resources (1) 2013 Herrington, "Road Map to Mineral Supply", (2) 2013 "Expanding boundaries of exploration", (3) Gordon et al. 2006 “Metal Stocks and Sustainability”, Watch: How much is left 24 Mar M Water Resources and Water Cycle (1) UNEP Global Water Resources Summary , Watch: (1) The Water Cycle and (2) How Much is Left 26 Mar W Water Pollution (1) UNEP “Clearubg tge Waters”, Watch: The World Water Crisis, Wastewater “Running Dry” (reflective writing) 28 Mar F Water Demand and Decline (1)"Groundwater: A resource in decline" (2) Smil 2008 “Water News: Bad, Good, and Virtual” 31 Mar M Carbon Cycle Friedland 2012 “Carbon Cycle” and (2) Reibeek 2011 – “The Carbon Cycle” Watch: Carbon Cycle 2 Apr W Energy (1) Friedland 2012 “Energy”, (2) Chow et al. 2003 – “Energy Resources and Global Development”, Watch: BP Energy Review 2012 Test 3 4 Apr F Non renewable Energy (1) Friedland 2012 “Non renewable Energy”, Watch: Fossil Fuel Formation 7 Apr M Renewable Energy (1) Tilman et al – “Beneficial Biofuels: The Food, Energy, and Environment Trilemma” (2) Smil 2006 – “21st Century Energy: Some Sobering Thoughts” (3) Jacobson 2009 – “A Path to Sustainable Energy” 9 Apr W AAG Live Association of American Geographers Meeting Live Energy Crossroads / Kilowatt Ours (reflective writing) 11 Apr F AAG Live Association of American Geographers Meeting Live 14 Apr M Climate Change (1) Worldwatch’s “Climate Change Reference Guide” (2) Friedland 2012 “Climate Change”, Watch: What is Climate Change? 16 Apr W Climate Change (1) Karl et al 2003 “Modern Global Climate Change” (2) Friedland 2012 “Climate Change”, Watch: “Climate Change is Simple” Science Behind Climate Change & Discussions 18 Apr F 21 Apr M 23 Apr W Impacts of Climate Change (1) Walther et al 2003 – “Ecological Responses to Recent Climate Change” (2) Kerr 2007 – “Global Warming is Changing the World” (3) Hoegh Guldberg 2010 – “Impact of Climate Change on Marine Ecosystems” (4) Hansen et al 2005 – “Earth’s Energy Imbalance”, Watch: (1) Global Effects of Climate Change and (2) Symphony of Science Earth from Space How it all comes together! 25 Apr F Biodiversity Friedland 2012 “Biodiversity” (p.120 – 123, 495 – 500), Watch: (1) Biodiversity and (2) How Much is Left 28 Apr M Biodiversity (1) Friedland 2012 “Biodiversity Loss” (p. 500 – 507) and (2) Estes et al. 2011 “Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth” 7 May W Comprehensive Final Exam (This will be a cumulative test covering all topics discussed during the semester) Easter Break Easter Break