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CSPS118G: Earth, Life, and Time Colloquium
Semester Two: Perspectives in Earth, Life & Time
Spring 2002
CCC 1205 Tue 3:30-5:00



One meeting per week, three weekend field trips.

Required Readings:

This semester there are two required texts:
Fortey, R. 1997. Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth (Vintage Press)
Diamond, J. 1992. The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (Harper Perennial)


The first semester of ELT concentrated on the methods of historical natural sciences. This semsester focuses on the perspectives afforded by our understanding of the history of the natural world, and Humanity's place within it.

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, adn 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.


There are five components, each of which contributes to your grade: Colloquium Attendance (20%); Field Trip Attendance (20%); Academic Showcasw/Undergraduate Research Day Report (20%); Quizzes (20%); In-class Assignments (20%). Here are the details:

1) Colloquium Attendance: (20%) Participation in colloquium meetings is mandatory, and attendance will be taken. A default grade of A will be given for attendance. Each student may have one unexcused absence from a class without penalty. After that, their attendance grade will be lowered by one letter grade with each additional unexcused absence. PLEASE NOTE:
Students observed leaving the colloquium before 4:50 or before it is formally dismissed will be counted absent.
If you have a legitimate reason for being absent, such as a family emergency or unavoidable academic conflict, we will excuse your absence, however you must notify us in a timely fashion. Requests for the excusing of an absence will not be considered after two days from the absence.
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, textbooks for other classes, etc.) and showing proper respect for student, faculty, and guest presenters. We reserve the right to count you absent fom colloquium if you fail to uphold this standard!

2)Field Trip Attendance: (20%) This semester there will be three (3) field trips. It is mandatory that every student participates in two (2) of these trips. These trips are to:
  • Mar. 2-3: The American Museum of Natural History, New York City
  • Mar. 16: The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.
  • Apr. 21: Fossil collecting trip in various points of western VA and WV
If you only attend one field trip, this portion of your grade will be dropped to a C; if you do not go on any field trips, this part of your grade will be an F.

3) Academic Showcase/Undergraduate Research Day Report: (20%) Later this semester your sophmore colleagues will be presenting the results of their individual research, service-learning, or internship work during the Academic Showcase (May2-3); others will also be presenting at the Undergraduate Research Day (April 24). 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 which 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 oppotunities afforded by CPS. (NOTE WELL: next spring YOU will be presenting at the Academic Showcase or Undergraduate Research Day, so observe carefully!!) There will be more details on the exact nature of this report later this semester.

4)Quizzes: (20%) To verify that you are in fact, mastering the material of the course, four (4) scheduled quizzes will be administered during the semester. We will automatically drop the lowest of the four grades. NOTE: Quiz materials will cover both the classes and the readings.

5) In-class Small Group Assignments: (20%) Throughout the semester there will be a series of in-class assignments. These 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.


Because many of our communications will be by e-mail, all students are expected 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.


Evidence of dishonesty, cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, or plagiarism on even one assignment will be forwarded to the Honor Council for review. (See pp. pp 43-46 of the UMCP 2001/2002 Undergraduate Catalog or online at Have a nice day.


1/29 Program: Welcome Back; Semester Orientation; Commonplace Unlikelihoods

2/5 Program: Aventures in Deep Time and the Phanerozoic Hour
Fortey Chaps. 1-2

2/12 Program: Life, so far
Fortey Chaps. 3-4

2/19 Program: QUIZ; TBA
Fortey Chaps. 5-6

2/26 Program: Piecing Together The Vertebrate Family Tree
Fortey Chaps. 7-8

(3/2-3)Field Trip: American Museum of Natural History, NYC

3/5 Program: The Changing View of Dinosaurs
Fortey Chaps. 9-10

3/12 Program: The Peopling of North America
Fortey Chaps. 11-13

Field Trip (3/16): Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

3/19 Program: QUIZ;Overview; the History of Life, as portrayed in Life and Museum Exhibits


4/2 Program: Video:COSMOS: The Persistence of Memory
Diamond Prologue and Part One (Chaps. 1-2)

4/9 Program: Scatterlings of Africa
Diamond Part Two (Chaps. 3-7)

4/16 Program: Human Biological Diversity Workshop
Diamond Part Three (Chaps. 8-12)

(4/21) Field Trip Program: Fossil Collecting in western Virginia and West Virginia

4/23 Program: Human Linguistic Diversity
Diamond Part Four (Chaps. 13-16)

4/24 UMCP Undergraduate Research Day

4/30 Program: Overview: The Third Chimpanzee and "Human Nature"
Diamond Part Five (Chaps. 17-19) and Epilogue

5/2-3 College Park Scholars Academic Showcase

5/4 CPS Softball Tournament

5/7 QUIZ; Your Family, the historical perspective
DUE: Academic Showcase Report

5/14 Program: Class Discussion and Roundup; Valediction