Introduction to Environmental Geosciences header
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Introduction to Environmental Geoscience
Course Syllabus Fall 2008

Tuesday and Thursday 9:35 AM to 10:50 AM
Room 303 CSA (Computer Services Data Processing Addition)


Robert Stewart

Professor of Oceanography


624 O&M

Office Hours

Robert Stewart

Any day before 9:00 AM or after 2:00 PM

Course description

We will discuss key concepts and generalizations of global and regional environmental issues within an earth-systems-science framework including global climate change, air pollution, land and coastal degradation, water resources and pollution, and habitat loss; environmental ethics, economics, and politics; and environmental issues in Texas.

Course philosophy

The course is not simply fact-based, it is designed to generate discussion. We will discuss specific environmental problems within the framework of earth-system science. For example, we will discuss factors controlling climate including greenhouse gasses, the ocean, and earth's carbon cycle, or factors controlling land degradation, including climate, geology, atmospheric patterns, and land-use policy.


Reading material will be assigned for most class periods. I expect you to read this before class. Please come to class prepared to discuss what you have read.


There is no required textbook for the course. All readings will come from the web or class handouts. I have not been able to find an environmental science text based on case studies, that is applicable to Texas or the southwest. Fortunately, there is an abundance of good material on the web.


Your grade will be based on homework (15%), two tests (40%), presentation and paper at the end of the course (10%), book review (10%), and an optional, comprehensive final exam (25%). If you elect not to take the final, your grade will be based on 4/3 times these values, excluding the last (final exam).

A = 90 - 100
B = 80 - 89
C = 70 - 79
D = 60 - 69
F = < 59

If necessary, test grades will be curved. Additional curving of grades at the semester's end will be at the discretion of the professor.

Tests and Optional Final

There will be two tests during the semester plus an optional, cumulative final exam. You may accept the grade you have earned up to the date of the final, and skip the final, or you may take the final.

The tests and exam will be worth 20% + 20% + 25% = 65% of your grade if you take the final, or 4/3 (20% + 20%) = 53% if you elect to skip the final.

Book Review

You will be required to write a three-page, single-spaced, review of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource by Marq De Villiers. The report is worth 10% of your grade.

  1. The report should be three, single-spaced, printed pages long.
  2. The report should:
    1. Explain how the book influenced you. What did you learn that you thought was espceially interesting or important, and why?
    2. You may also compare and contrast material in the the book with other material you have read on the subject.
    3. How do the issues in the book relate to Texas?
  3. For more information on writing a book report see the University of Wisconsin Writing Center and Tim Loy has a few useful tips (although more for an English Lit class).

Class Presentation

You will work in teams of four or five to write a short report on an environmental topic of your team's choice. Each team will present their report to the class at the end of the semester. I will give you more details in class. Each team will have about 12 minutes to make a presentation and answer questions based on their report. The time alloted for each presentation will depend on the number of students enrolled in the class. The presentation and report is worth 10% of your grade.

Academic Dishonesty

It is the responsibility of students and instructors to help maintain scholastic integrity at the university by refusing to participate in or tolerate scholastic dishonesty. Every act of academic dishonesty deflates the value of the TAMU degree you hope to receive. All cases of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Aggie Honor System Office and handled according to their guidelines. The report may result in disciplinary action. If you are reported twice, you will most likely be dismissed from the University.

Examples of scholastic dishonesty include: 1) acquiring answers for any assigned work or examination from any unauthorized source, 2) observing the work of other students during any examination, 3) providing answers for any assigned work or examination when not specifically authorized to do so, 4) failing to credit sources used in a work product in an attempt to pass off the work as ones's own, 5) attempting to receive credit for work performed by another, including papers obtained in whole or in part from individuals or other sources, and 6) fabrication of information. For more information, see TAMU Student Rules, Part 1 on Academic Dishonesty, and the library's web site on plagiarism complete with definitions and examples.

Know the Aggie Code of Honor. "An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do."


Texas A&M does not discriminate on the basis of an individual's disability and complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its admissions, accessibility, treatment, and employment practices. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities in Room B118 of Cain Hall. The phone number is 845-1637.

Revised on: 14 August, 2008

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