CSPS218G: Earth, Life, and Time Colloquium
SEMESTER III: The Perils, Perversions, and Promise of Science

Fall 2007
CCC1100 Mon, 3:30-5:00
ELT Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/
Course Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/syl218GF07.html
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.


Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Phone: x5-4084
E-mail: tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Office Hours: Tue 8:30-11 am or by appointment
Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1218
Phone: x5-2808
E-mail: jmerck@wam.umd.edu
Office Hours: Fri 1-3 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment

Wendy Goldstein
E-mail: wgold628@umd.edu
IM Name: Indigo536
Office Hours: Centreville 1217, M 2-3 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, five weekend field trips (1 required).

REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there are two required texts:

Reading assignments must be done by the classtime listed.
Additional short readings will be handed out during class.

Copyright: © 2007 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: This semester explores the interactions of natural history and Humanity, including the influence of the natural world in shaping ancient and modern cultures; the impact of human technologies (ancient and modern) on the living and non-living world; and the influence of our understanding (and often misunderstanding) of Science upon contemporary society. Throughout this course, consider how our readings, lectures, and activities address the following question:

  • 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:

    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!

    During classtime:

    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.

    POLICY ON GRADES: There are seven components to the grade, each of which is worth a certain percentage of the total. These are Field Trip Report (20%), Small Projects (20%), Quizzes (20%), Mini-Poster Project (5%); Practicum Proposal (10%), Practicum Learning Contract (15%), and ELT 3-Semester Review (10%). Here are the details:

    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.

    GRADE SCALE (Group Projects): +, 100; check+, 90; check, 80; check-, 70; -, 60; 0, 0 points

    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.

    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 http://www.studenthonorcouncil.umd.edu/whatis.html.

    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 http://www.counseling.umd.edu/DSS/receiving_serv.html.


    Date Topic

    9/2/07 (Sun.) ELT BBQ--After Freshmen Metro Scavenger Hunt
    9/3/07 LABOR DAY - NO CLASS
    9/10/07 Introduction & Class Logistics; Introduction to the Practicum
    Why Everyone (Not Just Scientists) Should Know About Science
    9/17/07 How Farmers Conquered the Earth
    Reading: Diamond Prologue & Chaps. 1-3
    9/24/07 Quiz 1
    Natural Resources: "Farming" vs. "Mining"
    Reading: Diamond Prologue & Chaps. 4-5
    9/29/07 (Sat.) Field Trip I: Chesapeake Beach and Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary
    10/1/07 Workshop: Graphics
    Reading: Diamond Chaps. 6-8
    10/7/07 (Sun.) Field Trip II: West Virginia Fossil Hunting
    10/8/07 Flora and Fauna, Produce and Plagues: Issues in Biodiversity
    Reading: Diamond Chaps. 9-11
    10/15/07 Quiz 2
    Climate Change: The REAL High Cost of Fuel!
    DUE: Graphics Project
    Reading: Diamond Chaps. 12-14
    10/22/07 The End of the World as We Know It!
    Reading: HANDOUT "The World as a polder: what does it all mean to us today?" Chap. 16 from Diamond, J. 2005. Collapse: How Societies Chose to Fail or Succeed.
    10/28/07 (Sun.) Field Trip III: Sideling Hill
    10/29/07 Quiz 3
    The First Word in "Science Fiction"
    Reading: Diamond Epilogue
    11/5/07 Mad Science & Evil Scientists - Do They Really Exist?
    Reading: Park Chaps. 1-3
    11/11/07 (Sun.) Field Trip IV: Maryland Science Center
    11/12/04Quiz 4
    Recognizing Good, Bad, and Pseudoscience
    Reading: Park Chaps. 4-6
    11/19/07 Race Concepts, Homeopathy, and Frankenfood: Real Science vs. Media Portrayals
    DUE: Practicum Proposal
    Reading: Park Chaps. 7-8
    11/26/07 Quiz 5
    Making Science Happen: Who Pays for Science?
    Reading: Park Chaps. 9-10
    12/1/07 (Sat.) Field Trip V: Koshland Museum of the National Academy of Sciences
    12/3/07 Confidence in Science: The Scientific Method Revisited
    12/10/07 Quiz 6
    Grandeur in This View of Life
    DUE: Learning Contract & ELT 3-Semester Review

    Last modified: 4 September 2007