CPSG 200: Science & Global Change Sophomore Colloquium
The Search for Solutions: Resiliency in the Decade of Consequences

Fall 2020
ONLINE Mon 3:30-4:50 pm Eastern
SGC Website
Lecture Schedule Website
ELMS Canvas Website: http://elms.umd.edu/
Download an pdf file of this syllabus.


Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Office: Centreville 1216
Phone: (301) 405-4084
E-mail: ELMS (preferred) or tholtz@umd.edu
Office Hours (REVISED): Th 9:30-11 am or by appointment
Dr. John W. Merck, Jr.
Office: Geology 1119
Phone: (301) 405-4379
E-mail: ELMS or jmerck@umd.edu
Office Hours: Th 12-2 pm or by appointment


Andrea Johnson
Office: Centreville 1214
E-mail: ELMS or johnson118alj@gmail.com
[Title your email "CPSG 100"]
Office Hours: TBA

Tessa Quade
Office: Centreville 1214
E-mail: ELMS or tquade@terpmail.umd.edu
[Title your email "CPSG 200"]
Office Hours: TBA

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 Zoom meeting per week, one (or more) asynchronous recorded lectures per week, one Excursion (required).

REQUIRED READINGS: This semester there are two required books:

Additional required readings will be listed on the schedule and available via ELMS. Reading assignments must be done by the class time listed.

Copyright: © 2020 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.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: By the end of the semester, every student should be able to:

Item Percentage
General Quizzes 5%
Final Quiz 5%
Participation 25%
Excursion Report 5%
Science & the Media Report 5%
Practicum Proposal 5%
Learning Contract 5%
SGC 3-Semester Review 5%
Portfolio Maintenance 5%
"Search for Solutions" (S4S) Team Viceo Project 35%

Grade Scale: The numbers given represent the thresholds that must be passed in order to reach that grade (for example, A+ is 97.000... and any number greater). There is no rounding for letter grades; the thresholds must be passed. F is any grade below D-. Thresholds: 97, A+; 93, A; 90, A-; 87, B+; 83, B; 80, B-; 77, C+; 73, C; 70, C-; 67, D+; 63, D; 60, D-; < 60, F.

The Final Grade is the algebraic sum based on the numerical grades.

Practicum Proposal and Learning Contract are given either full points (for completion of the assigned project) or none (for non-completion). Each general quiz is graded on an 8 point scale; the final quiz is on a 20 point scale.

  1. General Quizzes (5% total): Five quizzes will be taken, of which the lowest grade will automatically be dropped. Quizzes will be delivered on ELMS.
  2. Final Quiz (5%): A longer quiz, also delivered on ELMS. This will cover material from all three colloquium semesters.
  3. Discussion Participation (25%): As this is a Scholars Colloquium, all students are expected to attend every synchronous meeting and be an active participant when appropriate. In some classes, there may be directed interactive activities or discussions. Some meetings will involve Breakout Rooms. A default grade of 5 will be given for every meeting a student attends. They may be awarded up to 2 more points as extra credit for particularly helpful or effective participation in the meeting. Students who are present for a discussion section but are non-participants or are disruptive may be docked up to 2 and 4 points (respectively) at the instructors's discretion.

    While the expectation is that students attend EVERY synchronous meeting, it is recognized that occasionally conditions (accident, illness, power failure, etc.) arise that prevent such. To recognize that, every student is allowed two (2) absences from these meetings without penalty, so long as they inform the instructors and TAs by email (beforehand if at all possible), or certainly by the end of that same day that they will be/were absent and the reason for that absence. Should you not inform instructors and TAs in a timely fashion, the students will receive a 0 for the grade for the discussion/participation for that day. Additionally, if there are more than two absences the student will receive a 0 for the grade each additional class time missed. (If there is a medical condition or other extraordinary circumstance that does require missing more than 2 class meetings-or missing the date of an individual in-class presentation of some form-the student must provide documentation from the appropriate sort of official (health professional; court official; etc.) explaining the absence.)

  4. Excursion Report (5%): Each student is responsible for attending and reporting on one (1) of several options of extracurricular events. These reports are due as file uploads on ELMS online. The question sheet relevant to specific field trips will be provided in advanced; there are service project forms, as well as an even more generic report form: all will be made available on ELMS. Here are some options of types (and examples) of excursions available this semester; more will be announced in class and on ELMS as the semester progresses:
    1. SGC FIELD TRIPS: If the situations allow, the SGC faculty will lead a series of field trips during the semester. More details to come.
      NOTE WELL: You cannot receive credit this semester for a field trip report for a site on which you reported in your freshmen year!
    2. SERVICE PROJECT: There are various opportunities for service on or near the College Park campus throughout the year. Some are organized by the "Scholars in Action" student group; others are done by different organizations. Participation in one of these will count as an excursion, with the submission of the report form. Dates and opportunities will be announced during the semester. A particular aspect of service that would help would be service for the freshmen class: towards this end, we will allow Peer Mentors and those who help as organized HTML tutors to use this service for their Excursion Report. Similarly, those who do organized service for SGC or Scholars (Scholars Advisory Board; the new SGC Social Media Coordinators; Scholars Ambassadors; etc.) may use this for their Excursion Report.
    3. ADDITIONAL OPTIONS: Other possibilities include: Scholars-wide presentations (or some specific events opened to members of other Scholars programs); presentations (other than class lectures) on-campus, off-campus, or online concerning science, critical thinking, the environment, or related issues; open houses of labs or other facilities; and more. When the faculty become aware of them, we will advertise the time and place of these. However, we encourage you to discover options yourself: if you find a possibility, please send Holtz & Merck the particulars for their approval.
  5. Science & the Media Report (5%): The take home project this semester deals with a comparison of the news report about a specific scientific study with the technical paper of that study. This project is due October 9. The assignment will be submitted electronically via ELMS.
  6. Practicum Proposal (5%): All SGC 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 13 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. Students who intend to use one of the pre-approved courses rather than developing their own project must send a proposal stating which course they intend to take. Failure to provide a proposal will not only mean loss of 5% of your grade, but it will also prevent you from receiving any credit from the practicum!!
  7. Learning Contract (5%): 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 14). (Students using one of the pre-approved courses to fulfill the course component of their Practicum must instead provide a screen capture demonstrating their registration in that class.) Failure to provide a proposal will not only mean loss of 5% of your grade, but it will also prevent you from receiving any credit from the practicum!! You can download the Learning Contract from http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/docs/learncontract.pdf.
  8. SGC 3-Semester Review (5%): Also due on December 14, you will write and post a short essay detailing your experiences with the Science & Global Change Program so far. This will be mounted as a unique webpage linked to your SGC site. Specifics about the review will be given later, but your target audience will be prospective incoming students. A template is available at http://www.geol.umd.edu/sgc/resources/threesemester.html.
  9. Portfolio Maintenance (5%): Be certain that your Academic Portfolio is updated (i.e., your current class status, major, age, contact information, etc.); that all links are operational; that all text is properly spelled; that all images and code are used legally; that all pages use the same css code; etc.
  10. "Search for Solutions" (S4S) Team Projects (35%): The capstone of your time in the Scholars Colloquium is the "Search for Solutions" (S4S) Team Project. During the later part of the semester, each team of 3 students will report on some issue related to global change. The final deliverable product will be a poster presented in class and uploaded onto your portfolio. This project has several different subcomponents:
    1. Team Formation & Topic Choice (2%): Due Sept. 21
    2. Contract (1%): Due Sept. 25, a contract among all team members stating the agreed-upon responsibilities of each person.
    3. Recorded Presentation: Faculty Evaluation (25%): A draft of your PowerPoint/Keynote must be uploaded on ELMS on Oct. 26 for comments and evaluation by the faculty. The final video version must be recorded on Zoom and shared with the faculty by Nov. 6. We will upload these onto YouTube and provide you with the link so that you can embed a copy on on each members' portfolio page.
    4. Recorded Presentations: Student Evaluations (3%): Each student will screen all the videos but will be responsible for evaluating 3 different videos. These evaluations must be completed and uploaded by Nov. 20. The averaged score of these will be entered as the Student Evaluation for the video grade.
    5. Participation in Student Evaluations (2%): The fact of your own participation as an evaluator is part of your grade; failure to turn in evaluations of the videos you were supposed to view will result in a 0 for this part of the grade.
    6. Within-Team Peer Evaluation (2%): You will evaluate other team members, and be evaluated by them, in terms of your contributions to the project. Due on ELMS Nov. 20.
    Details on the specifics of these reports and their grading scheme will be provided later in the semester.

LATE ITEMS: Graded items must be uploaded/posted by the date listed. If there are important extenuating circumstances, discuss this with the faculty & TA as early as possible so that we can make allowances, if we deem it appropriate.

IMPORTANTLY: Any item not turned in by the end of final exam period will be graded as "0", unless special arrangements are made in advance of this date between the student and both faculty. "I forgot to turn it in" or "I was busy with other courses" do not represent "special arrangements"; you must be responsible for your own grade and graded items.


Expectations & Attendance

Attendance in the synchronous meetings is required. The Scholars Colloquia require you to do more than simply master the information; you must be able to intelligently communicate and discuss the ideas and concepts of the course with your instructor and fellow students. See this website for the Zoom skills you should master and the proper in-meeting practices to use for the Colloquium.

General Policies

The University has provided a page on Academic policies here. Each student is responsible for reviewing this page with regards to issues of Academic Integrity; the Code of Student Conduct; Sexual Misconduct; Discrimination; Accessibility; Attendance, Absences, or Missed Assignments; Student Rights Regarding Undergraduate Courses; Official UMD Communication; Mid-Term Grades; Complaints About Course Final Grades; Copyright and Intellectual Property; Final Exams and Course Evaluations; and Campus Resources.

Laptop/Smartphone/Tablet Use:

Given the reliance on technology this semester, please make certain that you have access to appropriate hardware, software, and Internet connections. If you are concerned about your ability to connect remotely for this course, please consult the following information about solutions provided by the Division of Information Technology:


Communication in this course will primarily be by means of the ELMS Inbox email system. Even given its online nature, there is the possibility that due to unusual inclement weather or other unexpected emergencies, the University may close. Please consult the University main webpage or call 301-405-7669 (SNOW) to confirm such cancellations. Drs. Holtz & Merck will contact students via ELMS in order to inform them concerning delays of due dates for projects to be handed in or for exams: typically these will be shifted until the next available class date.