CSPG 200: Science & Global Change Sophomore Colloquium
The Search for Solutions: Resiliency in the Age of Consequences

Fall 2017
CCC1100 Mon 3:30-4:50
SGC Website
Course Syllabus Website
Course Policies Website
Course Schedule Website
ELMS Canvas Website: http://elms.umd.edu/
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.


Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Phone: (301) 405-4084
E-mail: tholtz@umd.edu
Office Hours: Tue 9-11 am or by appointment
Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Phone: (301) 405-2808
E-mail: jmerck@umd.edu
Office Hours: Thurs 12-2 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment

UG Teaching Assistant:

Amy Garcia-Vivas
Office: Centreville 1215
E-mail: agarciav@umd.edu
[Title your email "CPSG 200"]
Office Hours: Mon 5-6 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, weekend field trips (one required).

REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there are two required books:

Additional required readings will be listed on the schedule and available through Canvas.

Reading assignments must be done by the class time listed.

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: In reviewing the foreign policy and national security implications of global climate change, the Center for Strategic and International Studies referred to the current century as the "Age of Consequences". It is now clear that large-scale, potentially catastrophic, environmental changes are unavoidable: we must prepare resilient technologies, communities, and societies. Having developed a scientific understanding of the issues, what can we as individual citizens and as members of our larger societies do? All of us will live in a human-dominated future, but our decisions and actions can help direct what changes may come and how we deal with them. It is better to make those decisions and actions based on accurate science than on criteria other than those which govern global change. In this semester students will address how scientists are acting to deal with the effects of natural and human-induced changes; what some of the options for changes in our own lives and technologies might be; and how we can contribute (through new scientific discoveries and own personal actions) to our future situation. Additionally, students will learn how to critically evaluate scientific claims in the media. Furthermore, each student will develop a plan for an individual research, internship, or service-learning project involving the discovery, application, or transmission of scientific information for their fourth-semester Sophomore Practicum.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the semester, every student should be able to:

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.

Practicum Proposal and Learning Contract are 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:

+, 100 pts; check +, 90 pts; check, 80 pts; check -, 70 pts; -, 60 pts; 0, 0 pts.

  1. General Quizzes (5%): Four quizzes will be taken, of which the lowest grade will automatically be dropped. Quizzes will cover the readings, lectures, and other presented material.

  2. Final Quiz (5%): 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.

  3. Participation (5%): 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 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.

  4. Field Trip Report (5%): Each student is responsible for attending and reporting on one of the field trips available during this 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:
    1. Sept. 17 (Sunday) Fossil hunting at Brownie Beach (Bayfront Park), Chesapeake Beach, MD
    2. Sept. 30 (Saturday) Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD
    3. Oct. 21 (Saturday) American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
    4. Nov. 12 (Sunday) Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

    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. The three standard self-guided field trips are:

    1. National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
    2. National Air & Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
    3. 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.

    NOTE WELL: You cannot receive credit this semester for a field trip report for a site on which you reported in your freshmen year!

  5. Science & the Media Report (5%): The take home project this semester deals with a comparison of the news report about a specific scientific study with the technical paper of that study. This project is due September 25. The assignment will be submitted electronically via ELMS.

  6. Climate Denial Response "Elevator Pitch" (15%): Did you ever wish you had a pithy, accurate response to give to people who confront you on the reality of climate change? SGC students (i.e., you) will help the community at large by providing appropriate responses. Each student will work individually, then collaboratively, in coming up with "elevator pitch" responses--terse, targeted verbal statements of less than two minutes length. Each student signs up online for a particular climate change denial topic to which they want to respond, researches that topic, then comes up with their own 200-300 word (c. 1-2 minute) statement by class time October 16. On that day, there will be a workshop in class: first, all students working on the same topic collaborate to come up with a common single response; then presenting the refined statement to other teams for criticism. The final agreed-upon response will be submitted as an html page on October 23; SGC will mount all of these as a new feature on our main website. Future classes will expand upon these topics to provide a database for citizens interested in responding to climate change denialism.

  7. Practicum Proposal (5%): All SGC students must participate in a practicum in order to complete their Citation. While the work for the practicum will be done after this semester, we use this semester to help you organize your projects. By November 6 you will have to turn in a proposal for your practicum work, giving a preliminary view of a) where you will be doing your work; b) what that work will likely entail; and c) what you expect to get out of this project. Failure to provide a proposal will not only mean loss of 5% of your grade, but it will also prevent you from receiving any credit from the practicum!!

  8. Learning Contract (5%): The second practicum-related portion of your grade this semester is the Learning Contract. This is a formal agreement between you, your site supervisor, and our office, making clear the tasks and hours for which you will be responsible and the credit level to which your practicum course will be given. The Learning Contract is due on the last colloquium day of the semester (December 11). Failure to provide a proposal will not only mean loss of 5% of your grade, but it will also prevent you from receiving any credit from the practicum!! You can download the Learning Contract from http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/docs/learncontract.pdf.

  9. SGC 3-Semester Review (5%): Due on December 4, you will write and post a short essay detailing your experiences with the Science & Global Change Program so far. This will be mounted as a unique webpage linked to your SGC site. Specifics about the review will be given later, but your target audience will be prospective incoming students. A template is available at http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/resources/threesemester.html.

  10. Portfolio Maintenance (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; that all pages use the same css code; etc.

  11. "Search for Solutions" (S4S) Team Projects (35%): The capstone of your time in the Scholars Colloquium is the "Search for Solutions" (S4S) Team Project. During the middle of the semester, each team of 3 students will report on some issue related to global change. The final deliverable products will be a platform presentation. This project has several different subcomponents:
    1. Team Formation & Topic Choice (1%): Due Sept. 18. 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.
    2. Contract (5%): Also due Sept. 18, a contract among all team members stating the agreed-upon responsibilities of each person.
    3. Annotated Bibliography (2%): Due Oct. 2, 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 of your video.
    4. Platform Presentation (30%): Your team will present your work in class on Oct. 30, Nov. 6, 13, or 20. These presentations will be 5-8 minutes long.
    5. Peer Evaluation (1%): You will evaluate other team members, and be evaluated by them, in terms of your contributions to the project. Due on ELMS Nov. 20.
    Details on the specifics of these reports and their grading scheme will be provided later in the semester.

  12. Scholars Theme "Viral" Report Assignment (5%): Every year, College Park Scholars sponsors an overall theme. The 2017-2018 theme is "Going Viral: The Spread of Illness, Imagery, and Information in the Modern World ". Many different events (book discussions; presentations; films; activities; etc.) are planned in association with this theme. We require that every student take part in at least one of these. After you take part in it, you will write a brief report that you enter in ELMS.
    A second "Viral" event might be used for your Field Trip assignment.

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 colloquium meeting on the date listed. If late (for example, the Discussion is not uploaded at the start of class), it will be docked 15%. If not uploaded by the next colloquium meeting, it will be docked a total of 50%. After that, it will be a 0. NOTE: If you first uploaded an incomplete version of a website, please re-upload the final version to ELMS, otherwise we won't see the final version in Canvas.

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.