CSPS218G: Earth, Life, and Time Colloquium
SEMESTER III: Nature, Science & Society

Fall 2009
CCC1100 Mon, 3:30-5:00
ELT Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/
Course Website: http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/syl218GF08.html
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.


Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Phone: x5-4084
E-mail: tholtz@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@umd.edu
Office Hours: Thurs 3-5 pm (GEO 1119) or by appointment

Sara Sherman
E-mail: sherman8@umd.edu
Office Hours: Centreville 1217, Mon 1-2 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.

Copyright: © 2009 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 eight components to the grade, each of which is worth a certain percentage of the total. These are Field Trip Report (15%), Small Projects (20%), Quizzes (25%), Mini-Poster Project (5%), Media Report (10%), Practicum Proposal (10%), Practicum Learning Contract (5%), 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 (Small 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.

    At your earliest convenience, log on and update your electronic and mailing addresses. This will help ensure that important information from College Park Scholars faculty and staff reach you in a timely and accurate manner.

    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.

    COURSE EVALUATIONS: CourseEvalUM will be open for students to complete their evaluations for Fall 2008 courses between Tuesday, December 1, and Sunday, December 13. Students can go directly to the website to complete their evaluations, beginning December 1. You will be alerted about these dates and provided more information closer to that time, and students will be alerted via their official University e-mail account.

    Students who complete evaluations for all of their courses in the previous semester (excluding summer), can access the posted results via Testudo's CourseEvalUM Reporting link for any course on campus that has at least a 70% response rate. You can find more information, including periodic updates, at the IRPA course evaluation website.

    The expectation is that all students will complete these. This is YOUR chance to anonymously evaluate this class: please use this opportunity!

    Revised Schedule (as per 28 September 2009)

    Date Topic

    8/31/09 Introduction & Class Logistics; Introduction to the Practicum
    Why Everyone (Not Just Scientists) Should Know About Science
    9/6/09 (Sun.) ELT BBQ--After Freshmen Metro Scavenger Hunt
    9/7/09 LABOR DAY (Campus Closed)
    9/14/09 How Farmers Conquered the Earth pt. 1
    Reading: Diamond Prologue & Part I (Chaps. 1-3)
    9/21/09 Quiz 1
    How Farmers Conquered the Earth pt. 2
    Workshop: Graphics
    Reading: Diamond Part II (Chaps. 4-6)
    9/28/09 Produce, Plagues, and People
    Reading: Diamond Part II (Chaps. 8-10)
    10/3/09 (Sat.) Field Trip I: Smithsonian Environmental Reserch Center, Edgewater, MD
    10/5/09 Quiz 2
    You Can Take the Hominid Out of the Savanna, But...; Human Evolutionary Biology Meets the Demands of Civilization
    Reading: Diamond Part III (Chaps. 11-12)
    10/12/09 Natural Resources: "Farming" vs. "Mining" and the Cycles of Nature
    Reading: Diamond Part III (Chaps. 13-14)
    10/19/09 Quiz 3
    Energy Resources [Please bring a calculator to class]
    Reading: Diamond Epilogue
    10/25/09 (Sun.) Field Trip II: Maryland Science Center
    10/26/09 Climate Change: The REAL High Cost of Fuel!
    DUE: Graphics Project
    Reading: Park Chaps. 1-2
    11/2/09 Quiz 4
    The Biodiversity Crisis
    Reading: Park Chaps. 3-4
    11/8/09 (Sun.) Field Trip III: National Museum of Natural History "Western Cultures Hall" and National Museum of American History "Science in America"
    11/9/09 Who Pays for Science?
    DUE: Practicum Proposal
    Reading: Park Chaps. 5-6
    11/15/09 (Sun.) Field Trip IV: National Air & Space Museum " Looking at Earth", "Explore the Universe", and "Exploring the Planets"
    11/16/09 Reporting on Science: Real Science and the News Media
    DUE: Media Report
    Reading: Park Chaps. 7-8
    11/21/09 (Sat.) Field Trip V: Marian Koshland Museum of the National Academy of Sciences
    11/23/09 Quiz 5
    Mad Scientists in Media and History: Science Done Badly and Bad Science
    Reading: Park Chaps. 9-10
    11/30/09 Science as a Defense Against Tyranny
    12/1/09 (Tues.) Online Course Evaluations available
    12/7/09 Quiz 6
    Grandeur in This View of Life
    DUE: Learning Contract & ELT 3-Semester Review
    12/13/09 (Sun.) Online Course Evaluations ends: please complete your online course evaluation prior to this date

    Last modified: 28 September 2009