SEMESTER II: Life in the Anthropocene: Living in a Human-Dominated World
CCC1100 Mon, 3:30-4:50
SGC Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/
Course Syllabus Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/syllabi/CPSP119G1201.html
Course Policies Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/syllabi/SGC1201policies.html
Course Schedule Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/syllabi/CPSP119G1201scheds.html
ELMS Blackboard Website: http://elms.umd.edu/ Course ID: 201201_CPSP119G_THOLTZ
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.
Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Office Hours: Mon 2-4 pm or by appointment
Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Office Hours: Thurs 3-5 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment
E-mail: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org [Make sure to begin your subject line "SGC:"]
Office Hours: Centreville 1217, Mon 1-2 pm
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 required), one Academic Showcase (mandatory).
REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there is only one required book:
- Henson, Robert. 2011. The Rough Guide to Climate Change: The Symptoms * The Science * The Solutions. 3rd Edition.
Penguin Books. ISBN-13 978-1-84836-579-7
Copyright: © 2012 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 an age when the activities of human society and technology can greatly affect Earth's systems for decades, centuries, and even millennia to come, we must be able to evaluate the merits of ideas as they relate to the actual natural world, independent of our personal, political, or philosophical preconceptions. In this semester, students will be introduced to the components of the climate system and how they interact. They will discover how natural and anthropogenic factors shift these interactions, and what those changes mean for the inhabitants of the surface of the planet. They will examine the record of past climate changes from the scales of years to billions of years, and how study of these paleoclimate records shed light on future changes.
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.
GRADES: Course grades are calculated by the summed total of the five items listed below. The relative percentage of the total grade represented by each is given. Overall course grade scale is:
- Quizzes (20%): 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
- Group Projects (30%): Four small group projects are assigned during the semester. These are generally
completed during a single classtime, in small randomly assigned groups of 4-5 students. Only a single project is
handed in for each group; all students in a group receive the same grade. Group projects missed due to unexcused
absences cannot be made up.
- Field Trip Report (10%): Each student is responsible for attending and reporting on one of the field
trips available during this semester. This report is in the form of an online essay and annotated bibliography.
Grades for the assignment are based 25% on the Style Rubric
(http://www.geol.umd.edu/pages/sgc/resources/rubric.html#Style) and 75% on the Content Rubric
(http://www.geol.umd.edu/pages/sgc/resources/rubric.html#Content) specific to that assignment. Field trip reports are
due online the second Tuesday after the field trip itself.
The field trip opportunities this semester are:
- Feb. 12 (Sunday): National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
- March 10 (Saturday): American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
- April 21 (Saturday): University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge, MD
- 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); others will also be presenting at the campus-wide
Undergraduate Research Day (April 25). 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.)
An html template for the Academic Showcase/Undergraduate Research Day Report is downloadable from the SGC website
- Temperature Proxy Takehome (15%): Due on February 28, each student will complete an assignment using MS
Excel to plot and interpret changes in temperature over time from various instruments and/or temperature proxies.
Each person's contribution will be used in a small group project that day. Details about the assignment provided
later this semester.
- Climate Myth Takehome (15%): Due on April 24, each student will complete an online assignment examining false statements about climate change, what they claim to report, and what the actual science says. Each person's contribution will be used in a small group project that day. A template for the online assignment is available
EXTRA CREDIT: SCG offers several different means of earning extra credit this semester. You earn 5 points maximum extra credit per item, up to a total of two items (i.e., 10 points total). In general, the extra credit is gained by writing a reaction paper mounted as a separate page on your website. Topics could include:
- A second field trip report (rather than a reaction paper, use the formal assignment for that field trip) beyond the one required.
- A reaction paper to a non-classroom academic presentation on campus, such as a departmental seminar, related to the program topics
- A reaction paper to an academic presentation off campus related to the program topics
- A reaction paper to some other academic event: check with the SGC faculty to make sure it qualifies.
Reports for field trips should follow the format assigned for that trip, including the specific questions required. Reaction papers are reports that would address both a summary of the material encountered as well as your thoughts and comments on this material and how it relates to related matter you may have encountered (in colloquium, other classes, etc.) Reaction papers require you to show insight into the matters concerned, not a simple retelling of what was there nor your "feelings" about it. See the Reaction Paper template at http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/resources/reactionpaper.html.
Full extra credit will only be earned if all format issues are properly completed (sufficient length, proper html coding, no spelling or factual errors, etc.). Problems with these issues will result in a decrease in the extra credit grade received, as per field trip and other web-based reports. All extra credit assignments must be online by the end of classes (i.e., before finals).