Welcome to the Anthropocene: Living in a Human-Dominated World
CCC1100 Mon, 3:30-4:50
Course Syllabus Website
Course Policies Website
Course Schedule Website
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.
Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Office Hours: Mon 10-11:30 am or by appointment
Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Office Hours: Thurs 2-4 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment
Undergraduate Teaching Assistants:
[Title your email "SGC"]
Office Hours: Wed 12:30-1:30 pm
Office: Centreville 1214
[Title your email "SGC"]
Office Hours: Mon 3-4 pm
Office: Centreville 1214
[Title your email "SGC"]
Office Hours: Wed 4-5 pm
NOTE: It is your responsibility as a student to completely read through and understand this syllabus. If you have questions about it, please contact Dr. Holtz or Dr. Merck. You will be held responsible for following all requirements of this syllabus.
COURSE ORGANIZATION: One meeting per week, three weekend field trips, one Academic Showcase (mandatory).
REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there is only one required book. However, there may be additional readings made available online.
- Mann, Michael E. & Lee R. Kump. 2016. Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change. The Visual Guide to the Findings of the IPCC. 2nd Edition. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN-13 978-0-1339-0977-7
Copyright: © 2017 Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and John W. Merck, Jr. as to this syllabus and all lectures. Students are prohibited from copying and selling course materials, from selling lecture notes, and from being paid to take lecture notes without the express written permission of the faculty teaching this course.
COURSE OBJECTIVES AND PHILOSOPHY: The unintended consequence of the Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions is that human activity has reached the scale of Earth's natural systems. We have entered the Anthropocene, the age when humanity has altered the environment around us. Students will examine how climates operate, and how natural and human factors influence them. They will see the observed impact of recent global changes on the world around us. They will study how communities & infrastructure, food, water & national security, as well as the wildlife on land, sea & air, are challenged by the profound and increasing impact of humanity.
LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the semester, every student should be able to:
- Identify the major factors which contribute to global climate systems, and predict in general how perturbations in these factors result in changes in climate.
- Understand how proxies of past conditions are used to reconstruct paleoclimates, and be able to interpret plots of these changing conditions over time.
- Recognize how climatic factors control the distribution and abundance of organisms (including crops and pathogens) and how changing global conditions result in redistribution and loss of important elements of the biosphere.
- Present scientific information by means of printed posters.
GRADES: The numbers given represent the thresholds that must be passed in order to reach that grade (for example, A+ is 97.000... and any number greater). There is no rounding for letter grades; the thresholds must be passed. F is any grade below D-. Thresholds: 97, A+; 93, A; 90, A-; 87, B+; 83, B; 80, B-; 77, C+; 73, C; 70, C-; 67, D+; 63, D; 60, D-; < 60, F.
The Final Grade is the algebraic sum based on the numerical grades.
The One-on-One Scholars Status Interview is given either full points (for completion of the assigned project) or none (for non-completion). Each general quiz is graded on a 8 point scale (one per correct answer). Other projects are assigned grades based on the following grade scale:
Course grades are calculated by the summed total of the items listed below. The relative percentage of the total grade represented by each is given.
- General Quizzes (15%): Six quizzes are given throughout the semester. The lowest quiz grade is automatically dropped: this includes quizzes missed for unexcused absences. Quizzes missed due to unexcused absences cannot be made up.
- Final Quiz (10%): A longer quiz, held on the last day of class. This will cover all the material of the semester, and even draw on concepts earlier in the SGC program.
- Participation (15%): A critical part of understanding concepts is their discussion and application. During every colloquium meeting there will be small and class-wide discussions of the readings due that week (or material from the course so far). And in many meetings there will be organized projects and activities that you will work on as small teams, larger groups, and/or the class as a whole. Every student is expected to fully participate in class every meeting: this earns you the full 5 pts for that meeting. The faculty and TAs may (at their own discretion) award up to 2 more points as extra credit for particularly helpful or effective participation in the discussion for individual students that day. Students who are present but are non-participants or are disruptive may be docked up to 2 and 4 percentage points (respectively) at the faculty/TA's discretion.
Your lowest individual grade for participation is automatically dropped. This is the means by which a single absence from class will be dealt. If you miss more than a single class, however, your grade may be more heavily penalized: see the "Policies" page about excused vs. unexcused absences.
- Homework (10%): There are two individual homework assignments this semester. The first (due February 7) is on reconstructing paleoclimates from proxy data; the second (due on February 21) is calculating your individual carbon footprint. Details about the assignment provided later this semester.
- Field Trip Report (5%): Each student is responsible for attending and reporting on one of the field trips available during this semester. Unlike last semester, these reports will be entered on ELMS online. You may work by yourself or in teams up to 3 people, but you must enter your report individually. Additionally, you will also be responsible for posting a picture of yourself at the field trip site, appropriately captioned, on your SGC Academic Portfolio.
The group field trip opportunities this semester are:
- Feb. 26 (Sunday) National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
- Mar. 6 (Sunday) National Zoological Gardens, Washington, DC
- Apr. 8 (Saturday) University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge, MD
Alternatively, you may go on your own or in teams up to 3 people to complete self-guided field trips on your own time. Three pre-designed field trips are available; other options may be announced on a case-by-case basis. These CANNOT BE a field trip you used for the colloquium last semester. The three standard self-guided field trips are:
- National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
- National Air & Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
- National Zoological Gardens, Washington, D.C.
Or, as yet another alternative, you can go to a talk or presentation (on campus or off) related to the themes of the program and write a report (based on a set of questions provided). We will identify these throughout the semester as they are announced.
- Academic Showcase Report (10%): Later this semester your sophomore colleagues will be presenting the results of their individual research, service-learning, or internship work during the
Scholars Academic Showcase (May 4, Reckford Armory, 5:30-7 pm); others will also be presenting at the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Day (April 26). You are required to attend the Showcase &/or the Research Day, and interview at least three (3) of the presenters, at least two (2) of whom must be SGC sophomores. Your report on these short interviews will be part of the grade for this semester, but will also give you an idea of some of the experiential learning opportunities afforded by Scholars. (NOTE WELL: Next Spring YOU will be presenting at the Academic Showcase, so observe carefully!! Don't just talk to three sophomores and leave as soon as you can; instead, use this time to survey a large number of these projects so that you get an idea of the possibilities.) The worksheet of the report is due May 9, the last day of class.
- Portfolio Maintenance (2.5%):Be certain that your Academic Portfolio is updated (i.e., your current class status, major, age, contact information, etc.); that all links are operational; that all text is properly spelled; that all images and code are used legally; all pages use the same css; etc.
- One-on-one Scholars Status Interview (5%): How are you doing at University of Maryland? How are you progressing towards your Scholars citation? In order to help make sure things are going well, and that you are progressing to completion of your SGC citation, we require all students to have a one-on-one interview with Dr. Holtz or Merck during the middle part of the semester. There will be an online sign-up sheet to register for a particular time slot later in the semester.
- "Impacts of Global Change" Team Project (25%): Your primary research in this semester's Colloquium is the "Impacts of Global Change" Team Project. In teams of 3 students will report on how contemporary and near future global change has impacted upon the physical, living, and human spheres. The final deliverable products will be a poster presentation in late April. This project has several different subcomponents:
- Team Formation/Proposal of Topic (2%): Due March 14.Over the course of that week, we will let you know if that topic is approved, or if you need to change or refine the topic.
- Team Contract (1%): Also due March 14, a contract among all team members stating the agreed-upon responsibilities of each person.
- Annotated Bibliography (5%): Due March 28, each team member must provide one unique reference from the primary literature about the topic you are researching. You must submit it in the required SGC bibliographic format. You will use these references (among others) in the supporting information part on your poster.
- Poster Creation (16%): Your team will present your poster on either April 18 or April 25 (based on the topic). Rules for poster creation will be provided later. On the day of your presentation, each team should prepare a short (approximately 5 minute) demonstration about your research. By April 25, you need to have a PDF of your poster linked to your portfolio. (A draft is due on April 4)
- Peer Evaluation (1%): You will evaluate other team members, and be evaluated by them, in terms of your contributions to the project. Due April 25. Details on the specifics of these reports and their grading scheme will be provided later in the semester.
- Poster Evaluation for "Impacts of Global Change" (2.5%): The day your team is not presenting, you will be examining and evaluating the posters presented by other teams. Details about this will be provided later.
LATE ITEMS: Hardcopy items must be turned in on the class meeting they are due: make sure you bring them to class with you! If they are turned in after this time but prior to the next colloquium, there will be a grade reduction of one step (i.e., a plus to a check plus, a check plus to a check, etc.; this is a 10 point drop). If not turned in by the next colloquium the grade will be a 0.
Online items must be uploaded/posted by the date listed. We will typically check to see if they have been uploaded the week after they are due: if they are not present at this time, you will have a -15 point penalty and be sent a warning to get it uploaded within the week. If not present by the second week (i.e., within 1 week of the warning email), you will bet a 0 on the project.
In either case if there are important extenuating circumstances, discuss this with the faculty & TA as early as possible so that we can make allowances, if we deem it appropriate.