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GEOG 100                            ENVIRONMENT and SUSTAINABILITY                         winter 2020


Course Description

An introduction to the impact of human activity on ecological systems. Topics include ecosystem structure and function, human population change, resource management and pollution

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course students should be able to

  • demonstrate a knowledge of ecological systems and the impact of human activity on those systems
  • demonstrate an understanding of key environmental issues
  • demonstrate knowledge of courses of action which address environmental concerns.



The required text for the course is Raven et al., 2015, Environment (9th edition), Toronto: Harcourt [although the earlier edition text (8th, 2012) is acceptable; there will be some differences, identified in D2L Content].
Several required readings are indicated in the topic outline below. These readings, along with the labs, are available in the course manual. Students should purchase the course manual from the bookstore.


Students can access course notes and course material on D2L: http://online.camosun.ca/

Quizzes (20% of course mark)

Quizzes are based on the mastery model of learning. Students have the opportunity to take the quizzes as many times as they wish.

Labs (45% of course mark)

There are regular lab exercises throughout the course. These are an integral part of the course; they provide an opportunity to apply the lecture and text material to specific and practical examples. Some labs have an accompanying reading.
Lab assignments are always due the following week, at the first class of the week, unless otherwise stated.  The labs from the course manual can be hand-written, but your handwriting must be neat. Untidy and illegible writing will not be marked. The podcast exercises are online. These also have a due date of the first class of the following week.

Class Discussion Questions (10% of course mark)

There are weekly discussion questions. These questions are intended to raise important concepts covered in class and the text and provide the opportunity for small group discussion. Discussion will take place in small groups. In addressing the questions identify key concepts and structure the discussion around these concepts.
Students will take turns acting as recorder. The recorder will keep notes of the discussion and make a list of the names of the students present. To receive marks, the notes and list of students will be handed in on the day of the discussion. One discussion will take place online.

Research Paper (25% of course mark)

Students will choose one of the issues discussed in the Class Discussions and write a research paper. The paper will present a thesis, and support it with data and discussion. The paper provides the opportunity to apply and discuss concepts that we have studied in the course and are relevant to your chosen issue.
A map, hand drawn by the author, will accompany the paper, at an appropriate scale to provide spatial context to some aspect of the issue. The map will contain map elements of title, scale, and legend. Spatial referencing (latitude and longitude) must be included in the map. It is a requirement that you refer to the map in your paper.
An important part of writing the paper is substantiating credibility of the material presented, by citing sources. Primary academic sources (i.e. peer reviewed) are most credible in this regard, and two primary sources are required. Students are required to cite a minimum of four sources. The paper will follow usual academic format of introduction, discussion and conclusion. A short paper is expected. Be precise and to-the-point in presenting the material. Use 1000 words as a guide but this is not a firm target. The research paper must be typed with DOUBLE SPACING. The hardcopy paper is due at the last class of the semester. A copy is also required in the D2L Dropbox before the start of the last class.
Research Papers are graded on the basis of the following criteria:
Quality of research (20%) – This criterion relates to breadth of information and relevance. Choose your sources carefully. Use two primary sources.
Substance (30%) – identify important concepts that we have discussed in the course and show that you understand the material; explain it accurately and clearly
Quality of thought and analysis (30%) – show that you can think intelligently and critically about the material; present some of your own ideas
Style (10%) – write your paper in standard academic English, with proper grammar, syntax and punctuation; cite all sources using an accepted bibliographic style. Primary research sources are strongly encouraged, i.e. sources that have been peer- reviewed (the course text is acceptable).
Map (10%) – A map, hand drawn by the author, will accompany the paper: Map will contain elements of title, scale, spatial referencing and legend.

Evaluation summary:

Tests                                                      – 20%
Lab work                                               – 45%
Discussion questions                         – 10%
Research paper                                   – 25%
Late work
Work handed in late will be penalized 5% for 2 days, and 10% for 3-7 days. Very late submissions (more than one week late) will not be accepted. The research paper is due the last class of the semester. Late papers will not be accepted.

Topic Outline

Week starting
Jan 6-                     Introduction to the course
Week1                   The Environment: What is the problem?
Lab: Geography of pollution
Class discussion: Human impact on the environment.
What are the most important environmental problems facing us today?
Jan 13-                  Introducing environmental science and sustainability
Week 2                  Text: Chap 1
Class discussion 1: Recognizing ecological limits
Should Canadians recognize ecological limits and reduce their ecological footprint?
Class discussion 2: Scientific assessment, risk analysis and the precautionary principle: Examining risks associated with major projects such as oil development.
Is oil sands development in Alberta an acceptable risk?
Video: H2Oil
Lab: Environmental science: research and the scientific method; geography of environment; human impact on the environment; measuring ecological footprints
Jan 20-                  Addressing environmental problems: Policy, economics and
Week 3                  worldviews
Text: Chap 2
Lab:  Addressing environmental problems: Policy and economics;                                                                         worldviews.
Video: Subdue the Earth
Class discussion: Addressing environmental problems
How ‘green’ is the Camosun campus? What environmental problems exist on the Camosun campus? What solutions can you identify to these problems?
Jan 27-                  Ecosystems and Energy
Week 4                  Text: Chap 3
Lab: Ecosystems and Energy
Class discussion: Whaling.
Is whaling an unacceptable practice that should be stopped immediately?
Video: Whale Mission
Feb 3-                    Quiz 1
Week 5
Structure and function of ecosystems
Ecosystems and the Physical Environment
Text: Chap 4
                                Lab: Living and physical worlds
                                Class discussion: Agriculture and the use of chemical fertilizers.
Should society use legislation to prohibit farmers using chemical fertilizers? Is there an alternative to chemical fertilizers?
Feb 10-                  Structure and function of ecosystems
Week 6                  Ecosystems and Living Organisms.
Text: Chap 5
                                Lab: Living and physical worlds
Class discussion: The nature of community.
Is community based mostly on competition or cooperation between                                                 members?
Feb 17-                  READING BREAK
Week 7
Feb 24-                  Ecosystems of the World
Week 8                  Text: Chap 6
Class discussion: Protecting BC’s temperate rainforest ecosystem
Should cutting of BC’s old growth temperate rainforest be stopped immediately?
Lab: Examining ecosystems: Examining Canada’s ecosystems using GIS
March 2-                                Human population
Week 9                  Text: Chap 8
Class discussion: Overpopulation
The current human population crisis causes or exacerbates all environmental problems, including energy issues and climate change: What is the solution?
Lab: Human population dynamics
March 9-                                Quiz 2
Week 10
Research paper: Getting started
March 16-              Wildlife and biodiversity
Week 11                                Text: Chap 16
Lab: Valuing wildlife
Class discussion: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Should the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge be protected or developed as part of North America’s oil and gas reserves?
Video: Oil on ice
March 23-              Food
Week 12                                Text: Chap 18
Class discussion: Agriculture
                                Should all food be produced organically?
Lab: Calculating your Ecological Footprint
March 30-              Climate change
Week 13                Text: Chap 20
Class discussion: Canada and climate change
What are we doing? Should we do more? What should we be doing?
Given historic emissions does Canada have the same or more responsibility than nations such as China and India?
                                Lab: Podcast Climate change
April 6-                   Quiz 3
Week 14
In class lab: Reflecting on the Future
Research paper due
Grading System
Standard Grading System (GPA)

Percentage Grade Description Grade Point
90-100 A+   9
85-89 A   8
80-84 A-   7
77-79 B+   6
73-76 B   5
70-72 B-   4
65-69 C+   3
60-64 C   2
50-59 D Minimum level of achievement for which credit is granted; a course with a “D” grade cannot be used as a prerequisite. 1
0-49 F Minimum level has not been achieved. 0

Temporary Grades
Temporary grades are assigned for specific circumstances and will convert to a final grade according to the grading scheme being used in the course. See Grading Policy E-1.5 at camosun.ca for information on conversion to final grades, and for additional information on student record and transcript notations.

I Incomplete:  A temporary grade assigned when the requirements of a course have not yet been completed due to hardship or extenuating circumstances, such as illness or death in the family.
IP In progress:  A temporary grade assigned for courses that, due to design may require a further enrollment in the same course. No more than two IP grades will be assigned for the same course. (For these courses a final grade will be assigned to either the 3rd course attempt or at the point of course completion.)
CW Compulsory Withdrawal:  A temporary grade assigned by a Dean when an instructor, after documenting the prescriptive strategies applied and consulting with peers, deems that a student is unsafe to self or others and must be removed from the lab, practicum, worksite, or field placement.

Recommended materials or services to assist students to succeed throughout the course
There are a variety of services available for students to assist them throughout their learning.
This information is available in the College calendar, at Student Services, or the College web site at
There is a Student Conduct Policy which includes plagiarism.
It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with the content of this policy.
The policy is available in each School Administration Office, at Student Services,
and the College web site in the Policy Section.


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