SCI 20200: Environmental Science

SCI 20200 Environmental Science Spring 2017
Prerequisite: none
Instructors: Prof. Young Choi (GYTE 287, Phone 219-989-2325,
Prof. Kay Rowberg (GYTE 267, Phone 219-989-2620,
Prof. Amlan Mitra (CLO 248, Phone 219-989-2313,
Prof. Ed Pierson (POTT 333, Phone 219-989-2467,


SCI 20200, a core course for the Environmental Science Minor curriculum, is open to all students.  Because of the multidisciplinary nature of environmental issues and problems, this course takes an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.  Therefore, interdisciplinary communications, cooperation, and teamwork will be emphasized.  Topics may include, but are not limited to, human population growth, natural resource management and conservation, environmental pollution, environmental ethics and policy, and sustainable development.  Students in this course are expected to gain a working knowledge of environmental issues in a wide spectrum of disciplines, interdisciplinary communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills based on sound evidence and logic, and the ability to be a team player in interdisciplinary cooperation.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, the students are expected to (1) understand the processes of scientific methods for testing hypotheses about the natural world, (2) apply mathematical skills to quantitative and analytical problem solving in environmental issues, and (3) demonstrate basic knowledge in science of human population dynamics, natural resources, renewable and nonrenewable energy, and environmental pollution.

Course Format

Each class period will begin with a background lecture by one of the instructors on the selected topic(s).  Group exercise and discussion will follow the lecture, and general conclusions will be drawn at the end of each class.  Students are expected to work in groups of 3-4 students to answer the questions on the weekly assignment during the group discussion, and then to prepare their individual responses for submission in the following class.

Weekly Assignment and Grade

There will be 12 assignments @ 20 points each.  The assignments may include essays, lecture summaries, worksheets, or combinations.  Each assignment must be submitted on or before the date designated by the instructor.  Late submission will be subjected to a penalty (5 points per assignment per day) unless justified by an extenuating emergency with written proof (a statement letter from physician, hospital, police, court, etc.).  Any student, who misses a class, even with a justifiable cause, is not allowed to submit the assignment for the missing class.  Zero point will be given to missing assignments.  Of the twelve scores, the ten higher ones will be tallied for the final grade and the other two will be dropped.  Grade assignment will follow the scale below:



Total Points Grade*
>=180 A
160-179 B
140-159 C
120-139 D
<120 E

*: + or – subgrade may be given by discretion of the instructors

Attendance and Conducts

Students are expected to attend all classes and to be actively involved in class discussions.   As stated above, those students who miss a particular class will not be allowed, even with justifiable cause, to submit the corresponding assignment.  Active participation to class discussion, although not guaranteed, will be considered favorable for grade promotion.  Disturbance to class and academic dishonesty, including plagiarism (copying others’ work), will be subject to an automatic “F” grade and disciplinary action according to the University’s rules and regulations.

If you are a student with a documented disability who will require academic/classroom accommodations in this course, please register with the Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities in the Student Support Services Office that is located in the Student Union and Library Building (SUL), Room 341, phone numbers:  219-989-2455, 219-9892454(voice/TTY) or 219-989-2920.

Course Schedule

DateDiscussion Topic Lab Exercise InstructorChapter
Jan 13IntroductionAll--
Jan 20Environmental science & critical thinkingScientific methodChoi
Jan 27Human population growth and resource consumptionPopulation growth models and human population growthChoi4, 7
Feb 3Energy resourcesComputer simulation: “Extraordinary Road Trip”Pierson9, 10
Feb 10Energy conservation & policyBuild your own motorPierson9, 10, 14
Feb 17Environmental toxicologyRisk assessmentRowberg1, 2, 11
Feb 24Air pollution, climate change & ozone depletionAir pollution chemistryRowberg12
Mar 3Water pollutionField trip to sewage treatment plantRowberg8
Mar 10Make-up class if necessary
Mar 17Spring Break (no class)
Mar 25Solid and hazardous wastesField trip to local power plant (class ends at 2 PM)Pierson13
Mar 31US history of environmentalismClass exercise on environmental issuesMitra1
Apr 7Environmental policy in USEconomic incentives & disincentives for environment-friendly businessMitra14
Apr 14Environmental economicsCost-benefit analysis of environmental projectMitra14
Apr 21Bus tour: Environmental issues in the northwestern IndianaChoi--
Apr 28Summary & General Education Assessment (extra credit up to 15 pts)All

Textbooks: Sustaining the Earth (11th Edition).  By G. T. Miller & S. E. Spoolman.  Brook/Cole Publishing Co.