Current Issues in Environmental Science (EEB 3205)

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Evolving Syllabus: Current Issues in Environmental Science (honors) EEB 3205; Fall 2015, Tuesday-Thursday 12:30-1:45 PM, Room: TLS 301

Target Audience: students who wish to increase their understanding of alternative futures. Discussions of environmental issues and the science behind them will lay the groundwork. Although designed as an honors course, other students in good standing can enroll with permission.

Instructor: Chris Simon, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Texts: G. Tyler Miller & Scott Spoolman. Living in the Environment. 17th Edition (Used copies are available; also available as an “e-book”.)

The Control of Nature, by John McPhee. Section 1 of this book will be discussed in Class in Mid Semester; the book was written in 1989 but is still relevant today. You can get used and new copies on-line very cheaply.

Listen or read each week, Public Radio International’s “Living on Earth” program at

Class Website: Google EEBedia UCONN current issues environmental science, userid: EEB3205, password: environment

Quiz & Current Each Tuesday except the first, there will be a quiz consisting of five to ten Events: questions related to the readings for the previous Thursday and the current Tuesday including from the previous Friday (Week 1 = 4 Sept 15). Reading the text is also required. Each Thursday at the beginning of class current events assignment are due and 3-5 volunteers will present their findings. Each student is required to present at least three of their current events assignments orally. Attendance: As with all your classes, you will take away knowledge in proportion to the energy you put in. Students are expected to attend every class. However, UCONN policy states that students involved in activities supervised by a University faculty member or official (e.g, scholarly or artistic presentations or etc.) should “inform me in writing prior to the anticipated absence and take the initiative to make up missed work in a timely fashion.”) The same applies to medical and family emergencies that are documented in writing. Grades: Current Events- 20%, Class participation (including attendance, input to class discussion), Control of Nature group project and the Futures assignment & final class discussion- 20%; Quizzes-20%; Final Oral Presentation- 20%; Final Exam- 20%. Office Hrs: Any time by appointment: E-mail is better than phone. Office: Bio-pharmacy 305D; phone: 486-4640; lab- 486-3947 Seminars: Several scientific lectures (seminars) are listed on the syllabus. Some of these are part of UCONN’s multidisciplinary long- running TEALE Lecture Series, “Nature and the Environment.” Because these generally take place at 4:00 PM on Thursdays and could conflict with your class schedule, they are not mandatory. They are, however, highly recommended. Most represent talks by well-known international experts and relate to course material. These talks can be written up in place of a current events. Follow Part of your grade will depend on how well you follow the instructions for Instructions: each assignment; this is an important skill!

Tu. 1 Sept- Introduction to Current Issues in Environmental Science- Chp 1. Th. 3 Sept- Science, Systems, Matter and Energy- Chp 2

Tu. 8 Sep- Ecosystem components, energy flow, matter cycling- Chp 3

                     Quiz 1 Chps 1, 2, & 3 and LOE Sep 4th	

Th. 10 Sep- Nutrient Cycles. Evolution, niches and adaptation Chp 4 (4-1 through 4-5).

      • Choice of topic for term project is due Saturday Sept. 12th***

Tu. 15 Sep- [Finish Evolution] Start Climate and climate change, biomes- Chp 7 (7-1); Chp 19 (19-1, 19-2) Quiz 2 Ch 4-1 through 4-5, LOE Sep 11th, and todays readings

Th. 17 Sep- Climate and climate change, biomes- Chp 19 (19-3); Chp 7 (7-2,7-3) Guest Speaker: Dr. Mark Urban, Assoc. Prof. EEB, guest lecture, Climate change. “Improving the forecast for biodiversity under climate change” Relevant recent publication: Extinctions and Climate Change. Science. 1 May 2015.

Th 17 Sep- EEB Seminar Series, Novel tools for big data: use and applications for biodiversity data. 4:00 PM, Biophysics 130.

Tu. 22 Sep - Ecology: biomes, species interactions. Video clip: Queen of Trees. Illustrates mutualism, commensalism, parasitism, plant defenses, predation, pollination, etc. etc.

   - Chp 4 (4-6); Chp 5 (5-1 through 5-3).

Quiz 3 Ch 19-3, and 7-2, 7-3, LOE Sep18th, and today’s readings.

Th. 24 Sep- Human population: growth, demography, and carrying capacity- Chp 6

   Read Chapter 6.  Choose current events related to the population problem.

Tu. 29 Sep- Continuation of succession, sustainability, conservation biology. Invasive species, population dynamics, carrying capacity, population growth. You’ve already read Chp 5 (5-1 through 5-3) and Ch 6.

     Quiz 4 Chp. 6 plus LOE  Sep 25th,

Th. 1 Oct- Food, Soil & Nutrition - Chp 12-1 through 12-3

     Choose Current events related to Food, Soil, Pesticides, or Pest Management

Th 1 Oct- EEB Seminar Series, Professor Trevor Price, University of Chicago. Why are there so many bird species in the eastern Himalayas, and why aren’t there more?, 4:00 PM, Biophysics 130.

      • Reminder: John McPhee (section 1) Control of Nature Assignment due October 20th***

Tu. 6 Oct – Pesticides, Pest Management & Control, Food sustainability - Chp 12-4 through 12-6 Quiz 5 Ch. 12-1-6 plus LOE Oct 2nd

Th. 8 Oct- Genetically Modified Foods;

Guest Speaker- Dr. Larwrence Silbart, Center for Environmental Health, and Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives, UCONN will discuss the environmental impact of GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms on foods) Chp 12.

NOTE: Special Current events: Control of Nature, October 15th

Th 8 Oct- EEB Seminar Series, 4:00 PM, Biophysics 130. Three short talks by EEB postdoctoral researchers: Dr. Amanda Caskenette: Paying Respect to the Elders in Recreational Fisheries Management Dr. Julien Massoni: The long evolutionary history of Magnoliidae (angiosperms) Dr. Tim Farkas: eco-evolutionary dynamics in stick insects

Tu. 13 Oct- Non-renewable mineral resources- Ch 14-3-5 + core case study; Start Water Resources. Ch 13.

   Quiz 7 on Chps 13 & 14, & Oct 9th  LOE.

Th. 15 Oct- Water Resources, Water Pollution- Chp. 20; Air resources & Air Pollution- Chp 18, & 19-4.

NOTE: Special Current events: Control of Nature, October 15th

            • Control of Nature Assignment Due 20 October before class! ********

Friday 16 Oct- Teal Lecture Series, Nature and the Environment: Professor Peter Vitousek, Stanford University. Island Ecosystems as Models for Human-Environment Interaction. 3:00 PM, Konover Auditorium, Dodd Center.

Tu. 20 Oct- Mid Semester Discussion- The Control of Nature- McPhee- Read also Chp 8. Chapters 9, 10 (same as last week’s reading assignment). Quiz Break

Th. 22 Oct- Sustaining Terrestrial Biodiversity- Ecosystem Conservation & Invasive Species

    [Please choose a current events related to invasive species or species or ecosystem conservation.]  Chapters 9, 10 (same as last week’s reading assignment).

Tu. 27 Oct- Sustaining Biodiversity Forest Resources. Chapters 9,10

    Guest speaker Robin Chazdon, Professor EEB and Executive Director, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.   “From pastures to forests: insights into tropical forest succession ”  

Th. 29 Oct- Sustaining Biodiversity: Case Study- Hawaii, our most endangered state- Chps 9, 10 Quiz 6 on Chps 9, 10, Oct LOE. Or Quiz Break

Tu. 3 Nov- Guest Lecture. Dr. Gene Likens. Distinguished Senior Scientist, Ecologist Founding Director and President Emeritus of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies & Professor, EEB UCONN. “The acid rain wars and the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study”

    Quiz 8 on chapters 20, 18 and 19-4, & Oct. 30th. LOE.

Th. 5 Nov. Non-Renewable energy resources- Chp 15

Tu. 10 Nov- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy- Chp 16

   Quiz 9 on chapters 15 & 16, & Nov 4th  LOE.

Th. 12 Nov- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Continued- Chp 16

Tu. 17 Nov- Guest Speaker- Rich Miller-Director of the UCONN Office of Environmental Policy. “Reducing the Environmental Impact of The University of Connecticut.”

   Quiz 10 LOE 13th Nov. & Chapters 17 and 21.

Th.19 Nov- 21 Solid and Hazardous Wastes- Chp. 21 and Risk Analysis- Chp 17.

Th 19 Nov- EEB Seminar Series, Rob Nixon, Univ. Wisconsin. Bosses of the Biosphere? Earth Mastery, Plutocracy, and Environmental Justice, 4:00 PM, Biophysics 130.

Tu. 24 Nov- No class- Thanksgiving break

    Listen to November 20th LOE for your own information.

Th. 26 Nov- No class- Thanksgiving break

Tu. 1 Dec - Sustainable Cities- Chp 22 View Failed States video on reserve in the library.

   Quiz 11 on chapters 22 and 17-3, 17-4, 17-5, & LOE Nov 27th.

Th. 3 Dec- Start of Student Presentations.

    Listen to Nov 27th LOE for your own information.

Futures Questionnaire by 10th Dec 15, and to open your mind before filling in your questionnaire, listen to this summary of six TED talks each of which predicts some amazing things about the future, this is a 50 minute program on NPR that aired 14 Sept 2013:

Tu. 8 Dec- Student Presentations continued.

    Listen to Dec 4th  LOE for your own information.

Th. 10 Dec- Student Presentations

Thursday 10 Dec. 6:30PM-9:30PM. Class Dinner Party at my house accompanied by a discussion of Alternative Futures and a demonstration of energy saving technology and house construction.

    Listen to Dec 11th LOE for your own information and I hope you continue to listen after the course ends!

Preliminary Final Exam Schedule: Friday Dec 18th 2015 10:30 AM-12:30 PM