CSPS218G: Earth, Life, and Time Colloquium
SEMESTER III: The Perils, Perversions, and Promise of Science
CCC1100 Mon, 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: Fri 1-3 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment
IM Name: Indigo536
Office Hours: Centreville 1217, M 2-3 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, five weekend field trips (1 required).
REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there are two required texts:
Reading assignments must be done by the classtime listed.
- Diamond, J. 2005. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New Edition. (Norton, ISBN 0393061310)
- Park, R. 2000. Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. (Oxford Univ. Press, ISBN 0195147103)
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:
- A writing implement
- A notebook (containing this syllabus)
- The text for that half of the course (Diamond throughout October; Park after that)
- 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 (September 12).
- 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 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
- 1) Field Trip Report: (20%) This semester there will be five (5) field trips. It is mandatory that every student
participates in one (1) of these trips. These trips have only minimal expenses; typically the Metro fare and/or lunch. These trips are to:
If you do not go on any field trip, this part of your grade will be a 0. However,
you may go on all field trips if you like, and space permits. You may NOT use a report on a field trip that
you also did last year for CPSP 118G to fulfill this grade requirement and/or extra credit!
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) 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.
- 3) Quizzes: (20%) 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.
- 4) Mini-Poster Project: (5%) In the mid-semester we will have a small workshop teaching the basics of raster and
vector graphics. You will be responsible for creating a small poster concerning your ELT experiences using these software
packages; successful completion of this project is worth 5% of the total.
- 5) Practicum Proposal: (10%) All ELT 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 19 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 10% of your grade, but it will also prevent you from receiving any
credit from the practicum!!
- 6) Learning Contract: (15%) 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 10). Failure to provide a proposal will not only mean loss of
15% of your grade, but it will also prevent you from receiving any credit from the practicum!! You can download the
Learning Contract from
- 7) ELT 3-Semester Review: (10%) Also due the last day of classes,
you should write up a short report detailing your experiences with the Earth, Life & Time
Program so far. This will be mounted as a unique webpage linked to your ELT
site. Specifics about the review will be given later, but your target audience will be
prospective incoming students. A template is available at
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:
- A second field trip report (see above) beyond the one required.
- A reaction paper based on any full-length chapter in Guns, Germs, and Steel
or Voodoo Science.
- A reaction paper to any of the Supplementary Readings for the semester
listed on the
- A reaction paper to a non-classroom academic presentation on campus, such as a
- A 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.). See the grading rubric
for details. 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 Scholars' 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 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:
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
Last modified: 4 September 2007