ESCI 111: Inhabiting Planet Earth CRN 14038
Dr. Kirsten Siebach & Dr. Sylvia Dee
Fall 2019 [3 credit hours]
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Course Page: https://canvas.rice.edu/courses/4062
Office Hours: M 10-11:45am (or by app.) Office: KWG 313, KWG 317
Why is Earth habitable? How do we sustain our existence on this unique planet? This freshmen-only course will introduce students to our species’ interactions with Planet Earth. We will explore what makes a planet habitable, our planet’s history, and how humans are altering Earth’s future, along with an in-depth investigation into the geologic and paleoclimate history of the American Southwest. The course is designed around three case studies, each with a unique approach to interpreting the habitability of Earth. The first unit covers the building of Planet Earth and geologic factors that control habitability. The second unit covers the American Southwest and will involve a 3-4 day field trip to the Grand Canyon over the Fall Recess to put course objectives into practice in a field setting. The final segment of the course will focus on human impacts on our planet, environmental policy and reading the recently published National Climate Assessment.
This course takes a case-study approach to exploring the fundamental properties of Earth: its formation, composition, climate, and processes that change it. A primary objective is to develop a broad understanding of how humans have interacted with and responded to environmental forcing over time, through lecture, reading, writing, and field exercises. Students will learn to analyze earth science data sets, evaluate climate policies, and interpret the rock record & make field recordings. Students will be evaluated on both content knowledge and development of skills, including critical thinking, analytical writing, and working in teams.
Student Learning Outcomes
- Describe the scientific method as applied in the earth sciences
- Explain Earth’s natural cycles characterizing both the solid and fluid envelopes of the planet (e.g. the hydrologic cycle, plate tectonics, carbon cycle, climate);
- Broad knowledge of how scientists interpret the rock and paleoclimate record;
- Explain how earth processes interact with human life, and create hazards to life and property;
- Develop skills in field observation via class field trips;
- Explain the causes and effects of global climate change;
- Obtain knowledge of U.S. environmental policy over the 20th & 21st centuries, especially as applied to the American Southwest
- Annals of a Former World (McPhee)
- Merchants of Doubt (Naomi Oreskes)
All students are expected to attend lectures and participate in class discussions.
We reserve the right to curve the scale dependent on overall class scores at the end of the semester (the highest grade will be assigned to 100%, and the curve will extend down from there). We will assign grades using the following numeric to grade conversion scale:
The grade will count the assessments using the following proportions:
- 20% of your grade will be determined by midterm 1
- 20% of your grade is based on the field trip presentation (10%) and report (10%)
- 20% of your grade will be determined by midterm 2
- 10% of your grade will be determined by in-class participation and attendance
- 30% of your grade is based on homework assignments
In this course, all students will be held to the standards of the Rice Honor Code, a code that you pledged to honor when you matriculated at this institution. If you are unfamiliar with the details of this code and how it is administered, you should consult the Honor System Handbook at http://honor.rice.edu/honor-system-handbook/. This handbook outlines the University’s expectations for the integrity of your academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the process.
Copying/cheating of any sort will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.
“If you must write prose/poems the words you use should be your own, don’t plagiarize or take
on loan” – Morrisey.
If you have a documented disability or other condition that may affect academic performance you should: 1) make sure this documentation is on file with the Disability Resource Center (Allen Center, Room 111 / firstname.lastname@example.org / x5841) to determine the accommodations you need; and 2) talk with me to discuss your accommodation needs.
I understand that the electronic recording of notes will be important for class and so computers will be allowed in class. Please refrain from using computers for anything but activities related to the class. Phones are prohibited as they are rarely useful for anything in the course. Eating is not allowed in class.
- Attend all classes
- Complete all assigned coursework
- Complete readings
- Participate in class discussions
- Follow current events involving climate change
- Treat all classmates and your professors with respect
If for any reason you have a personal emergency that prevents you from attending class, you may email your instructors 24 hours in advance of class to request make-up lecture materials.
Some more casual rules:
Ask questions when you don’t understand things; chances are you’re not alone.
Read the Syllabus.
Time extensions will not be given due to tardiness.