Environmental Issues - Course Requirements & Information
Welcome to Environmental Issues, ENVL4300. Issues is one of the core courses required by the Richard Stockton College Environmental Studies Program (ENVL). The instructor this semester isJamie Cromartie. This is a course for students who have completed most of the other requirements for an ENVL degree, including ALL the other core courses. We will assume that everyone has a basic familiarity with the environment and some intermediate and advanced coursework in one or more areas.
This course includes a lab, ENVL4305, which you must take at the same time as ENVL4300.
In Environmental Issues, we will study and reflect on the interaction between humans and the earth. People describe this relationship in many ways: as sacred, as exploitative, as symbiotic, and as destructive. Some people predict future catastrophes, others increasing bounty. We will try to understand these differing views and decide which ones contain the truth.
In order to sort out truth from falsehood, we will need to consider the ways people live on this planet, both as individuals in their daily lives and as participants in organized group activities, like commerce and government. We will consider the effects of those many actions, individual and group, on the rest of the planet - its biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, that is, the environment
THE COURSE.In ENVL4300, we will consider these topics from several perspectives. The classroom part of the course will begin with a look at global issues, including population growth, destruction of natural ecosystems, global warming and ozone depletion. National issues will come next, followed by state and local issues. At each level, we will consider how the problems facing us have developed and in what ways decisions are made and plans are put into action.
From another perspective, on each of these levels, similar elements are interacting. People in their daily lives do many things that affect the environment on a local scale, but through travel and communication and commerce, these effects are transmitted to the higher levels: state, nation and world. The economic system is one way this happens - systems of exchange of goods organized as markets extend from the local to the global level. Today, these are organized along capitalist or socialist lines, less advanced systems having been displaced (except among surviving indigenous peoples).
Government exists at all levels alongside the economic system and interacts with it and with peoples' daily lives in complex ways. It generally tries to maintain a monopoly on the use of threat and coercion including judicial, police and military power. It also may provide peaceful means of settling disputes and a known system of rules that apply to society. It may provide social welfare and support for education, science, etc. It may regulate the financial system and other aspects of the economy. Governments may be organized along democratic lines, but many nations still are ruled by dictators (especially military) or by oligarchies (often consisting of a wealthy elite). Increasingly, protecting the environment is believed to be an essential function of government.
All these levels of human organization are contained on the surface of our planet within its biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. To understand the interactions of humans with the environment, we must know how these parts of the earth function. The other two core courses Physical Geography (ENVL2100) and Ecological Principles (ENVL2200), treat these subjects in detail. We will be discussing some of them here as we consider particular issues.
Finally, ideas and beliefs - religion, science, philosophy and ethics, influence human action at all levels. Throughout the class, we will return to the question of how our beliefs affect the way we live and the way we approach problems we encounter. Ultimately we have to decide what is the best course of action, based on what we believe to be good. Nothing is more important than to figure out what that is.
When you have successfully completed this course, you will be able to:
1) Describe the major environmental issues of the start of the 21st century
2) Trace the stream of resource flows from initial extraction or production to final disposal. Explain how individuals, economic agents and governments make decisions on issues that affect the environment, at global, national, state and local levels.
3) Describe areas of scientific agreement and disagreement or ignorance on major issues: population growth, global warming, ozone depletion, endangered species, toxic chemicals, etc.
4) Find information on issues using thelibrary, Internet, and other tools, including finding specific laws and regulations.
5) Analyze issues in a geographic perspective, using Geographic Information Systems to present spatial data (maps, etc.)
6) Be able to prepare clear, cogent Issue Briefs, setting out the arguments made by various sides to a controversial question and stating your own position.
7) Be practiced in presenting such briefs orally.
1. ATTEND EVERY CLASS
2. BE ON TIME
3. LISTEN AND TAKE NOTES WHEN IT'S APPROPRIATE.
4. ASK QUESTIONS AND OFFER YOUR VIEWS ON THE TOPIC.
5. READ ALL ASSIGNED READINGS - You should read the assignment for each day and any other handouts before the class meeting.
6. AFTER CLASS, RE-READ YOUR NOTES AND ASSIGNMENTS
7. SUBMIT ALL ASSIGNMENTS ON TIME - Late work will be penalized.
8. WRITE CORRECTLY - Do not turn in work that is incomplete or doesn't follow all directions or is sloppy, messy, or not your own. Faulty papers will be returned; no grade will be recorded until the work is corrected.Cheating and plagiarism will be reported to the Vice-president for Academic Affairs.
9. Use theLIBRARY and Internet - Starting with the references given in course materials, you can locate information on almost any topic.
10. DO NOT EXPECT MAKEUPS - unless you have telephoned or left a message with a full explanation for the instructor BEFORE the scheduled time of required presentations, trips, etc. I will require written excuses before giving any makeups for illness, etc.
11. VISIT, WRITE OR CALL ME IF YOU ARE HAVING PROBLEMS, OR JUST HAVE A QUESTION OR SUGGESTION, IDEA, ETC. Leave a message if I'm not in; I'll return your call or message.
12. QUESTION AUTHORITY - Authorities can only transmit opinions; knowledge is achieved by examining opinions and determining their truth or falsity. This requires great effort and a constant desire to learn.
Attendance and class participation in discussions, etc. 20 points
Issue briefs. (The top four of your grades will be counted, on five assignments) 60 points
Resource stream project. 20 points
Total: 100 points
Issues home page | Course requirements | Schedule