Course Syllabus

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE 308
WRITING IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
A WRITING PROFICIENCY COURSE
Syllabus #1527
1 - 3 credits

 

J. Richard Mayer
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science
Email: jrmayer@wwu.edu

 

INTRODUCTION:

Topics in Environmental Science 308 is a variable credit (1 - 3 credits), writing proficiency, self-paced, independent study course. Students earn from one to three academic credits through personal study, research, and writing essays about topics they select from several possible topics. See the list of topics below.

For each writing proficiency credit, students must first write a detailed outline on a topic of their choosing. After outline approval, you must write a draft essay two pages long, single-spaced, which includes a 'Works Cited' section. Upon approval of your draft essay, a final essay is written. Follow the same procedure for each topic you have chosen. Work on one topic at a time and submit assignments one at a time - one assignment for each topic you have chosen.

Students receive a grade for each essay and a final course grade as well. Academic credit and Writing Proficiency Points are earned as follows: one credit/point for each approved and graded final essay. This course is not repeatable for credit.

COURSE PREREQUISITE:

ESCI 101 or an equivalent college-level science course. Seek permission of the instructor. 

PURPOSES OF THE COURSE:

  • First, students in this course learn the importance of excellence in writing English and communicating ideas and information in science.
  • Second, students are encouraged to engage in independent thought and critical thinking.
  • Third, students are inspired to pursue new knowledge and understanding in environmental science.
  • Finally, students are expected to critically examine data, information, and viewpoints used to support informed points of view. 

DEPARTMENT INFORMATION:

ESCI 308 COURSE TOPICS:

PLANET EARTH TOPICS

  • Topic 1 - Earth's Stratosphere and Ozone
  • Topic 2 - World Biomes
  • Topic 3 - Tropical RainforestsTopic 3A - Old Growth Forests
  • Topic 4 - National Forests and National Parks
  • Topic 5 - Fire Ecology
  • Topic 6 - Wilderness
  • Topic 7 - Biodiversity
  • Topic 8 - Endangered Species
  • Topic 9 - Human Populations - Demography

AQUATIC SYSTEMS TOPICS

  • Topic 10 - Freshwater Resources
  • Topic 10A - Aquifers
  • Topic 11 - Potable Water
  • Topic 11A - Arsenic in Bangladesh Drinking Water
  • Topic 12 - Flint River Michigan Case Study
  • Topic 13 - Eutrophication
  • Topic 13A - Algae and Algal Blooms
  • Topic 14 - Global Water Scarcity

OCEANS AND WHALES TOPICS

  • Topic 14A - Warming Oceans, Rising Seas, Declining pH
  • Topic 15 - Marine System
  • Topic 15A - Worldwide Marine Pollution - Plastics
  • Topic 16 - The Salish Sea
  • Topic 16A - Toxic Chemicals in the Salish Sea
  • Topic 17 - Orca Whales
  • Topic 18 - Saving Southern Resident Orca Whales
  • Topic 18A - Chinook Salmon
  • Topic 18B - The Columbia and Snake Rivers - Dams and Salmon

AGRICULTURE AND AQUACULTURE TOPICS

  • Topic 19 - Green Revolution Agriculture
  • Topic 20 - Organic (Sustainable) Agriculture
  • Topic 21 - GMOs - Bio-Engineered Crops and Livestock
  • Topic 21A - World Fisheries and Aquaculture

ENERGY

  • Topic 22 - Coal: Environmental and Political Issues
  • Topic 23 - Colstrip Montana and the Future of Coal
  • Topic 24 - Petroleum
  • Topic 24A - Canada's Athabasca Tar Sands
  • Topic 25 - Keystone XL Pipeline
  • Topic 26 - Fracking
  • Topic 27 - Nuclear Power
  • Topic 28 - Nuclear Disaster at Chernobyl
  • Topic 28A - Japan's Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Disaster and the Future of Nuclear Power in Japan
  • Topic 29 - Energy Transitions
  • Topic 30 - Biofuels

POLLUTION TOPICS

  • Topic 31 - Global Urban Air Pollution
  • Topic 32 - Acid Rain
  • Topic 33 - Heavy Metals

CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING

Topic 34 - Climate Change

Topic 34A - Bering Sea Ice Disappearing

Topic 35 - Polar Bears and Global Warming

Topic 36 -Latest UN Climate Change Report - A Warning!

STUDENT DESIGNED TOPIC

Topic "S" - Student Designed Topic

COURSE EVALUATION

ESCI 308 Course Evaluation

COURSE MATERIALS:

There is no textbook for this course. All of the materials needed to complete the course are on the Canvas course website and online which includes materials I have written and internet sites that I want students to study.  

COURSE OBJECTIVES AND REQUIREMENTS:

My objective in this course is to focus attention on important areas of contemporary environmental study. You will write essays on anywhere from one to three topics to earn one to three course credits.  First, write a detailed outline of an essay you plan to write. After I review and comment on your outline, you will write a draft essay which must include 'Works Cited.' I will review your draft essay making comments and suggestions. Then, you will write your final essay which I will read and grade. Include a ‘Works Cited’ section in your draft essay and your final essay. A 'Works Cited' section must include at least three literature and/or on-line sources cited. 

Repeat this procedure for each essay you write - one essay for each academic credit.

Submit your work (outline, draft essay, final essay) and wait for my comments and ultimately a grade on your work before submitting a subsequent assignment. Remember to write your essays carefully and edit each one before submission. They should be written in proper English and reflect good composition including sensible paragraphs and correct spelling. Essays reflecting superficial examination of a subject or sloppy writing (including poor spelling, grammar, or writing style) will be marked down or returned to be rewritten.  

COURSE EVALUATION:

Students only have the choice of selecting a letter grade (A-F) for this course as it is a Writing Proficiency Requirement.

Your overall course grade will be based on your papers and will take into account the progress you have made in this course. There are no tests or final exam.

Your instructor prefers assigning letter grades: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, or F. You most likely will never see a grade below C, as poorly written or poorly conceived papers are generally returned to you with comments on how to improve. A letter grade of C- or better is required to pass this course. 

 

SUBMITTING ASSIGNMENTS:

Only one outline, draft paper, or final paper may be submitted at a time. Please wait until I comment or grade an assignment before you write a subsequent paper.

ALWAYS make a copy of your work BEFORE submitting it. If lessons are lost, it is far easier to re-submit a copy than to rewrite an entire assignment. All assignments must be completed in order to receive credit for the course.

Time Considerations (a message from the Western Online office) - Start your reading right away and keep on a schedule. Organize your time so that you spread the work out over 10 or 12 weeks, just like a regular academic quarter. Treat your Self-paced course as the serious learning experience that it is. True learning takes time: time for reading, time for processing new information, time for reflection. When students get into trouble in a Self-paced course it is most often when they try to rush through a large part of the work at the end of the quarter or right before their own deadline.

Remember that grading takes time and our instructors have other classes and students. The instructor cannot be expected to grade assignments immediately because you have a deadline.

HELP WITH THIS COURSE:

Dr. Mayer will be happy to answer any questions or provide assistance to help you with this course. Feel free to contact him by e-mail at the following address: jrmayer@wwu.edu

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Dr. Mayer holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., an M.A. degree from Columbia University in New York City, and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He has worked as a research chemist in the pharmaceutical industry (Sterling Drug Company), as a science administrator with the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C., as an Environmental Research Center Director at State University of New York, as Dean of Huxley College at Western, and as a teacher and writer at Western, where he was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award. He retired from Western in 1999 but remains active in the teaching field. His special interests include renewable energy, water chemistry, groundwater quality, drinking water issues, pesticide transport, and the fate of organic chemicals in the environment.

Course Summary:

Date Details