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Course Syllabus – ES101OC
Introduction to Environmental Studies
Office Hours:
Dr Edmund Okoree
[email protected]
ext. 4094
Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. or by appointment.
Course Overview
This course provides a multidisciplinary introduction to environmental studies with an emphasis
on understanding natural resource systems and environmental conditions in Canada and
internationally. In ES101, we examine the environmental worldviews, ethics, economic systems
and decision making processes that influence environmental sustainability, as well as the
ecological systems upon which we all depend. ES 101 is an introductory course that is the first of
two courses (ES102 is the second) that are the prerequisites for other Environmental Science
courses offered by the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier
University. This course provides the foundation for future courses that consider environmental
issues and solutions. These courses address particular resources or issues in detail (e.g. water,
wildlife, land, population, development, urban systems), particular methods and approaches (e.g.
geographic information systems, impact assessment, parks and protected areas), or concepts and
ideas (e.g., sustainability, environmental thought).
The course is divided into six modules that examine fundamental concepts of both the human
and ecological systems. The modules include topics on (1) environmental philosophy, ethics,
and values; (2) environmental economics; (3) governance and environmental policy; (4)
population; (5) ecological components and cycles; (6) biodiversity and biomes; ecological
In this course, we will address many questions:
What are natural resources and why do we manage them?
What is their importance in ecological, historical, economic, and philosophical terms?
What is the political and economic context of natural resource use and ecosystem
protection in Canada, and internationally?
What are the economic, ecological and social issues at the core of resource and
environmental management?
What are the prospects for sustainability?
How do managers and researchers learn about resources and the
How do people become involved in resource and environmental
By the end of the course you should have sufficient understanding of natural resources and
environmental systems and management to support more in-depth study of the complexities and
complications they entail.
Learning Objectives
Explain and describe the basic principles of environmental science including general
scientific laws, energy and nutrient cycles, ecosystem processes and the relationship to
the human system including topics on governance, economics, sociology and
Identify the general history of environmental awareness and worldviews
Interpret and produce short reports from environmental data, background articles and
group role playing.
Required Text
Miller, G.T, D. Hackett and C. E. Wolfe. (2017). Living in the Environment (4th Canadian
Edition). Nelson Education Ltd.
The bookstore is offering a digital version of the textbook. The course text is a relatively new
offering among ES textbooks and its strength is the significant Canadian content. This
overcomes a weakness of many previous Environmental Studies texts. Further Canadian and
international content will be added through the lesson notes and links to key websites and
readings. Throughout the course you should reflect on the readings and relate the issues
introduced in them to your own experiences with resources and the environment and to other
materials and information in the course.
The lesson notes are designed to achieve several goals:
To provide you with an overview of the important concepts, examples and material to
assist you in preparation for the exams and completion of the labs.
To guide you in preparing your own reference and study material by directing you to the
more important material in the text, video and web links.
The textbook is a vital component of the course:
The textbook contains details of the material that is introduced in the lesson notes. You
will need to read the pages and chapters that are indicated in the weekly schedule as
well as the beginning of each lesson. Material is drawn from the textbook when
preparing the exam.
The textbook should be considered as a complementary study guide, not as extra
reading. The lesson notes are designed as a guide, it is not the intent of the lesson notes
to repeat the textbook but to use the material in the text to support further discussion of
key concepts.
My Learning Space
The course will use My Learning Space https://mylearningspace.wlu.ca/ for exams/quizzes, course
information, postings and other readings. It is essential that you learn how to access material on
this site. Be sure to read the Welcome message posted at the course home page, as it provides
essential information about the course. It is important that you visit the course site often to be
abreast with course happenings.
Assignments and Evaluation
The purpose of tests and lab assignments is to foster learning and make you think, while also
testing your knowledge and skills in a variety of ways. There will be three main forms of
evaluation in this course: (a) exams, (b) lab-based work and (c) participation
Midterm Exam
Lab Assignments
Lesson Quizzes
Final Exam
In this course you will be expected to have dialogue and discussion with your peers. Since any
course on the environment will raise a number of issues, the participation activities in this course
have been designed to help you consider various perspectives on a particular issue and gain a
stronger understanding of that specific lesson's objectives. It is also designed to increase your
comfort level in expressing your opinions in an open forum.
Throughout the lesson notes you will see What's Your Perspective? headings and
accompanying discussion points that invite you to post your thoughts. You will be
assigned to a small group of students (5-6 students) and asked to participate in
approximately ten perspectives
with your peers (roughly two for each module). Your final participation grade will
be awarded based on the quality and timing of your response. Please post your responses to
your small group during the week of the specific lesson, by the indicated deadline.
I would also encourage you to Share Your Thoughts on various issues that arise
from the course content. They are also found throughout the lessons, usually one or
two per lesson. Please post your responses to these activities to the corresponding
section of the discussion board. Include the number in the subject line of your post
(i.e. Share Your Thoughts 1-1). In courses with large enrollment, such as this one,
organizing the discussions in this way will help to find specific topics more easily.
The participation grade is based on your participation in the WYP and SYTs. These activities will
assist you in your learning and it is important to contribute and read the opinions of your peers.
You are encouraged to respond to the posts of your peers, where appropriate.
Lab Assignments
Lab assignments are structured to complement course material and are scheduled throughout the
term. Their function is to contribute to your learning and ongoing assessment of your understanding
of key material. The labs are marked based on your individual work and in some cases your group
work with a small sub-group within your lab section. You are encouraged to discuss the context of
the lab material but you are to do your own work and not share answers for labs based on
individual work. Lab assignments are submitted only through the Dropbox on the course website.
The material for each lab is presented through a set of lab instructions as well as a screencast that
explains the work required, as you would get in a lab from a teaching assistant. Please note that the
labs have discussion components which are to be posted to your group’s WYP discussion board
and will count towards your participation mark.
Your lab grade is worth 40%; the four labs are equally weighted at 10% each. Each lab has its
own grading scheme which may total anywhere from 20 to 30 marks but they will all be graded
as 10% of the final lab grade.
Quizzes, Midterm and Final Examinations
There are five online quizzes that are to be taken at the end of each module (see the calendar for
key dates). There will be a 48-hour window during which you can access the quiz. The quiz will
be all multiple choice questions drawn randomly from a bank of questions. You will answer 10
questions during a 10-minute window.
These quizzes will count for 10% of your grade (2% each) but should not be taken lightly as they
will help prepare you for similar type questions found on the midterm and final exams.
You will also be evaluated by two exams; a midterm exam and a final exam (dates for the final
are usually posted by the midterm). It is your responsibility to check on the final exam period and
not schedule any holidays or work trips during the exam window. The exams will have a similar
The exam format will be a combination of multiple choice, true or false, and fill in the blank.
The final exam will not be cumulative; it will be focused on material presented after the
midterm, but could include general principles introduced in the first half of the course.
The exams will draw from primarily the lessons and textbook, there will not be a strong
component from the labs; however, the labs do investigate general principles that are presented
throughout the course material which you should be familiar with.
Please note that the dates for the midterm exam and final exam are set by the Office of Online studies and
the Exams office respectively and are posted at their website. It is your responsibility to check their sites
for the scheduled dates. The dates will be posted at the course home page when they become available.
Rules and Regulations
Submitting Labs and Late Penalties
It is the student’s responsibility to submit labs on the scheduled dates. If for any unavoidable
reason (e.g. medical) you can’t submit the assignments on the scheduled dates, let the instructor
know about it ahead of time so that an alternative arrangement can be made. A late penalty of 1
mark/day, including weekends, will be assessed against all assignments that are submitted late
without prior permission from the instructor. No assignment will be accepted after being late for
more than five days.
You are to submit your lab electronically to the Dropbox under assignments on the main menu.
Academic Integrity/Misconduct
Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to a culture of integrity within and beyond the classroom.
This culture values trustworthiness (i.e., honesty, integrity, reliability), fairness, caring, respect,
responsibility and citizenship. Together, we have a shared responsibility to uphold this culture in
our academic and non- academic behaviour. The University has a defined policy with respect to
academic misconduct. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with this policy and the
penalty guidelines, and are cautioned that in addition to failure in a course, a student may be
suspended or expelled from the University for academic misconduct and the offence may appear
on their transcript. The relevant policy can be found at Laurier's academic integrity website
(www.wlu.ca/academicintegrity) along with resources to educate and support you in upholding a
culture of integrity.
Ignorance of Laurier's academic misconduct policy is not a defense. For more information
refer to the current Undergraduate calendar.
Wilfrid Laurier University uses software that can check for plagiarism. Students may be asked to
submit their written work in electronic form and have it checked for plagiarism.
Special Needs
Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact Laurier's Accessible Learning
Centre for information regarding its services and resources. Students are encouraged to review
the Undergraduate Calendar for information regarding all services available on campus.