ENVS 202 NATURAL SCIENCES

Course Content and Philosophy:

This course will deal with the issues of how to acquire and analyze data for the purpose of transforming emotional debates on environmental problems into objective ones. This is a skill that is critically lacking and without this skill the public participation process becomes dysfunctional. The bulk of the course will focus on the development of data analysis and presentation tools. In other words, this course is about how you shape environmental debate/policy around real data nd how ultimately, policy is limited by the reliability and availability of relevant data.

This is surely beyond the level of difficulty you expect of this course but ENVS 202 likely represents the only opportunity for exposure to this critical set of skills. Environmental Studies is a very broad interdisciplinary field that covers policy and management aspects, humanistic aspects, sociological aspects and of course, quantitative aspects. This course emphasizes the latter. We will discuss sampling, bias, measurement errors, statistics, and how to fit data. The necessary tools will be provided to you via simple programs that can be executed over the network. For purposes to this course it is *not* necessary to understand very much of the theory behind measurements but rather to know what can be extracted from a date-set that is meaningful. We will then apply these data to real case studies of real environmental problems to look for real solutions and real characterizations of the problem.

All lectures in this course will be delivered electronically using Netscape as the presentation software. Access to the lecture material can be done from any networked platform on campus. All students are encouraged to obtain accounts on gladstone. We are using the computer network in this class for several reasons:

Course Organization:

This course will not make heavy use of any textbook. If you already have the text Environmental Science: Cunningham and Santiago then you should read part IV as those chapters are most relevant.

At this time, a specific set of lecture material and the order in which it is delivered is not yet set in stone. We will certainly focus attention on topical issues such as Global Warming, Ozone Depletion and el Nino. However, this course is flexible in terms of the kinds of topics to be covered, once the basic foundation of the course has been laid. Hence, I view this as an evolving situation. This course will contain some of the material that we discussed last year but it will also be different, by necessity.

Midterm Dates

The dates of the midterms are:

Course Grading:

Grading of this course will consist of the following:

  • 2 Midterms which will total 30% of your grade
  • A comprehensive TAKE HOME final which will total 40% of your grade
  • a few homework assignments which will total 30% of your grade

    These homework assignments can and should be done collaboratively with other students (in groups up to 3 in size) and should be turned in via email (saves paper).