CSPS118G: Earth, Life, and Time Colloquium
SEMESTER II: The Evolution of Life and the Natural History of Humanity
CCC1100 Tuesday, 3:30-5:00
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.
Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Office Hours: Tue 8:30-11 am or by appointment
Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Office Hours: Thurs 3-5 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment
IM Name: Indigo536
Office Hours: Centreville 1217, Tue 11:30-12:30 am
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).
REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there is one required text:
Reading assignments must be done by the classtime listed.
- Diamond, J. 1992. The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal.
- Zimmer, C. 2006. Evolution: The Triumph of An Idea. (HarperPerennial)
Copyright: © 2008 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: Semester 2 focuses on the patterns and
processes in the evolution of Life, and its application in understanding human biology and
behavior. We will see how scientists approach this view of life from an evolutionary
perspective, especially as it relates to the primary question of the Earth, Life & Time
- How is the scientific understanding of the physical world and its living components (including our own species, our behavior, and
our society) more completely comprehended when we take into account time (whether the "deep time" of evolution and geology, or the
smaller scale of human history)?
CLASSROOM POLICIES: You should bring the following to every single colloquium meeting:
- A writing implement
- A notebook (containing this syllabus)
- The text for that part of the course (Zimmer through March 6; Diamond afterwards)
- A willingness to participate constructively, both in small groups and in the class as a whole
- A readiness and ability to discuss the readings for that week
This semester we will have a number of small-group in-class projects. We expect everyone
to help move tables and chairs when necessary for a particular project, and to help
restore the tables and chairs to the "neutral" position when we are done. Many hands make light work!
- PLEASE be courteous to your fellow students and your faculty, and
do not engage in side conversations. Even what you might think are hushed whispers in the
back row can be heard all the way up front, and are disruptive to the attention of your
classmates who are interested in getting a good grade in the class.
- All electronic modes of communication (mobile phones, pagers, etc.) must be turned
"off" or be in silent mode.
- Laptops may be used ONLY for taking notes and/or following along with
webnotes for the class. If you are found to be using your laptop for other purposes you
will be asked to shut it down. If you fail to do this, you will be considered "absent" for
- No personal electronic listening devices (e.g., CD players, MP3 players, personal
radios, etc.) will be allowed.
- No reading of material not germane to the class activity will be allowed.
Finally, please do not leave any debris behind: pick up all food/beverage containers,
papers, newspapers, etc. near your seat and on your desk when you leave.
ATTENDANCE: Given the nature of the course and program, participation in colloquium meetings is MANDATORY.
It is up to you to make certain that your presence has been recorded for every class.
- Recording Your Presence: On days with quizzes and/or group projects, your presence will be taken from these items.
On other days, there will be a sign-up sheet. It is your responsibility to make certain that you have signed the quiz, project
report, or sign up sheet.
- Students observed leaving the colloquium before 4:50 or before it is formally dismissed will be counted absent.
- NOTE: We expect students to adhere to proper academic decorum during colloquia. This means focusing
your attention on presentations, refraining from conversations or activities that are not relevant (e.g., reading newspapers,
doing homework for other classes, etc.), and showing proper respect for student, faculty, and guest presenters. We
reserve the right to count you absent from colloquium if you fail to uphold this standard!
- Excused Absences: If you have a legitimate reason for being absent, such as a family emergency, unavoidable
academic conflict, or other excuse according the University's guidelines, we will usually excuse your absence. However you must
notify us in a timely fashion. Telling us ahead of time is best, if possible. Requests for the excusing of an absence will not be
considered after two workdays from the absence. Please use the
Excused Absence Report form. . NOTE: the next colloquium meeting is too late
for requests for excuses!
- Even if you miss a class from an excused absence, you are still held responsible for material during that class, included
graded assignments such as quizzes and small group projects. See the faculty about arrangements for a make up. If the
small group project is such that it cannot be done alone, it will not be factored into your grade if you have an excused
absence that you informed the faculty about within two workdays from the absence.
- Religious Observances: The University System of Maryland policy provides that students should not
be penalized because of observances of their religious beliefs, students shall be given an opportunity, whenever
feasible, to make up within a reasonable time any academic assignment that is missed due to individual participation in
religious observances. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the instructor of any intended absences for
religious observances in advance. Notice should be provided as soon as possible
but no later than the end of the schedule adjustment period (February 8).
- Unexcused Absences: All other absences are considered unexcused absence. You may have one unexcused absence
that does not directly affect your grade (except for missed quizzes or small group projects: see above). Each subsequent unexcused
absence lowers your final course grade by 10 points.
- If you miss a quiz or small group project because of an unexcused absence, you will not be allowed to make it up.
POLICY ON GRADES: There are five components to the grade, each of which is worth a certain percentage of the total.
These are Field Trip Report (25%), Quizzes (25%), Small Projects (20%), Family History Take-Home
Project (15%); Academic Showcase Report (15%). Here are the details:
- 1) Field Trip Report: (25%) This semester there will be three (3) field trips. It is mandatory that every student
participates in one (1) of these trips. These trips are to:
If you do not go on any field trip and/or fail to do a report, this part of your grade will be a 0. However,
you may go on all field trips if you like.
In order to get credit for attending a field trip, you must complete a short
report concerning aspects of the natural sciences you learned about on this event. You
will be handed out the report packet on the day of the trip, and must turn it in upon
completion of that field trip. You may do these projects individually or in groups up to 3
people: if done as a group, all students in that group will receive the same grade.
- 2) Quizzes: (25%) To verify that you are, in fact, mastering the material of the course, six (6) scheduled quizzes
will be administered during the semester. We will automatically drop the lowest of the six grades. NOTE: Quiz materials will
cover both the classes and the readings.
- 3) Small Projects: (20%) Throughout the semester there will be a series of small assignments; some in-class,
some take home. Those in-class will be conducted in small groups (to be created on those dates), with your results handed in
at the end of that classtime. Everyone in each small group receives the same grade for that day's work.
- 4) Family History Take Home Project: (15%) Before Spring Break, you will be
provided with a take home project to trace the geographic distribution of your ancestors
over the past two millennia. This packet will be due BY CLASSTIME on April 15, and
will be necessary for you to complete your small group project that day. You can find
information that will help you on this project here.
- 5) Academic Showcase/Undergraduate Research Day Report: (15%) 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 2);
others will also be presenting at the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Day (April 23).
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 ELT students.
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 or Undergraduate Research Day, 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.)
Here is an html template for the
Academic Showcase/Undergraduate Research Day Report.
GRADE SCALE (Course): >=90, A; 80-89, B; 70-79, C; 60-69, D; <60, F. "+"
and "-" grades are given to the top and bottom two-point range, respectively, within each
GRADE SCALE (Group Projects): +, 100; check+, 90; check, 80; check-, 70; -, 60; 0,
EXTRA CREDIT: ELT 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). You may do two items in one category, or one in each.
- Academic: You may write an additional report on colloquium-related academic material, and mount this report as a
separate page on your website. Topics could include:
- An online reaction paper to a field trip, distinct from the assignment due that day
- An online reaction paper to any full-length chapter in the Zimmer or Diamond books
- An online reaction paper to any of the Supplementary Readings for the semester
listed on the
- An online reaction paper to a non-classroom academic presentation on or off campus,
such as a departmental seminar.
- An online reaction paper to some other academic event: check with the ELT 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.
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 the ELT
website grading rubric. All Academic extra credit assignments must be online by the
end of classes (i.e., before finals).
- Service: College Park Scholars seeks to promote civic responsibility among its students and faculty. To help
fulfill CPS' commitment to community service, we offer extra credit to your grade total for students who participate in some form of
community service this semester.
- You cannot be paid for this service activity, nor be receiving credit for it in any other classes, nor be doing this service
for disciplinary purpose for some other entity on campus (i.e., no "double-dipping").
- This service must be conducted between Move-In Day and the last day of exams this semester.
- This activity must be approved by the Faculty Directors of ELT, or else you will not receive credit for it. Your best bet is to
get it pre-approved, so you know in advance if it will count for extra credit!
- You must turn in an Activity Report form (see
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/rtfs/activityreport.pdf) signed and dated by yourself and a site/activity supervisor
in order to get credit.
- This extra credit can be earned by any of a number of activities. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but gives you
an example of some of the sorts of activities that would count:
- Serve as the ELT freshman representative on the
CPS Student Advisory Board
- Serve as a CPS Ambassador,
or in Student Program Circle,
or in the Residence Halls Association
- Go to a high school to promote ELT (and Scholars, and UMCP)
- Participate in a Voting Drive
- Donate blood
- Volunteer at a clinic, shelter, or other similar institution
- Volunteer at a non-profit organization
- Serve as an officer in an SGA group
- Volunteer at the ELT booth for a Scholars Open House (Mar. 28, Apr. 4, Apr. 18)
COMMUNICATION: Because many of our communications will be by e-mail, all students
are required to maintain e-mail accounts and arrange for access to the Internet. Although
not a course requirement per se, students should get into the habit of checking their
e-mail daily. Failure to do so may cause you to miss crucial course information. Here is a
list of available computer labs on campus.
ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The University of Maryland has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity,
administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all
undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course.
It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more
information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit
The University of Maryland is one of a small number of universities with a student-administered Honors Code
and an Honors Pledge, available on the web at http://www.jpo.umd.edu/aca/honorpledge.html.
The code prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses
without authorization, buying papers, submitting fraudulent documents, and forging signatures. The University Senate
encourages instructors to ask students to write the following signed statement on each examination or assignment:
"I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (or assignment)."
ACADEMIC ACCOMODATIONS: If you have a documented disability, you should contact Disability Support Services
0126 Shoemaker Hall. Each semester students with documented disabilities should apply to DSS for accommodation request
forms which you can provide to your professors as proof of your eligibility for accommodations. The rules for eligibility
and the types of accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the DSS web site at
||Welcome Back; Semester Logistics|
The Evidence of Evolution
||Charles Darwin and the Discovery of Natural Selection|
Reading: Zimmer Prologue, Introduction, Chaps. 1-2
Mechanisms of Evolution
Reading: Zimmer Chaps. 4-5
Today is Charles Darwin and
Abraham Lincoln's 199th Birthday!
How to Reconstruct the Tree of Life|
Reading: Zimmer Chaps. 6-7
More than Lions, Tigers, and Bears: A Brief Overview of Biological Diversity
Reading: Zimmer Chaps. 8-9
||Field Trip 1 Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of Natural History
Raw Animal Sexuality!|
Reading: Zimmer Chaps. 10-12
"Fearfully Great Lizards": Dinosaurs
Scatterlings of Africa: The Origins of Humanity|
Reading: Diamond Prologue, Part One Intro, Chaps. 1-2
Out of Eden: From the Origins of our Species to You|
Reading: Diamond Part Two Intro, Chaps. 3-5
Human Biological Diversity and "Race"
Reading: Diamond Chaps. 6-7
Your Family: An Historical Perspective|
DUE: Family History Take-Home Project
Reading: Diamond Chaps. 8-10
||Field Trip: American Museum of Natural History,
as part of Scholars in New York
What is Language? The Evolutionary Biology of the "Humanities"|
Reading: Diamond Chaps. 11, Part Four Intro, and Chaps. 13-14
||Undergraduate Research Day|
||Field Trip 3: National Zoo
Languages Have A History
Reading: Diamond Chaps. 15-17
||Scholars Academic Showcase|
||Scholars Softball Tournament|
||Life in Darwin's Universe: Natural Historical Perspectives on the Possibility of Life on Other Worlds|
Reading: Diamond Chap. 12, 18-19, Epilogue
Human Natural History; Valediction
Last modified: 1 April 2008