Ecology and Environment


Instructor Joanne Tippett - Biology 4400 (3 units)

Spring 2002 Syllabus


Lectures Mondays 6 – 8 PM Albertus Major Lecture Room


Field Trips/Lab

Saturday February 23 AM (TBC)

Saturday April 6 Field Trip all day

Saturday April 20 AM (TBC)


Office Albertus Minor (shared office on right hand side)

Instructor Contact Details

Office hours

Directly after class, or beforehand by arrangement


Email (expected response time 2 days)

Home telephone (expected response time 2 days) 510 527 5887 I prefer for you to email me unless this is difficult.

Required text:

Living in the Environment (Twelfth Edition) by G. Tyler Miller, Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2002


A small number of selected readings, which will be posted on the class web site


There are several books on reserve in the library which will be important for your papers and group projects, and there are many resources and sources of information posted on the class web site at

Course Description

An investigation of ecological principles involved in human relationship to, and interaction with, the environment. Includes an exploration of the interrelated nature of ecology, economy and social equity, with a focus on systems thinking and analysis. Emphasis is given to political, economic and planning aspects involved in solution of environmental problems. Lab sessions will cover a range of skills for planning ecologically sustainable projects.

Course Goals

  1. To gain a basic understanding of scientific principles, ecology and sustainability (integrating ecological, social and economic aspects).
  2. Provide an opportunity to investigate environmental issues and apply sustainability principles in a planning project.
  3. Introduce and practice transferable creative thinking, critical analysis and planning skills.

Student Learning Outcomes

1.      Learn to apply understanding of scientific principles, ecology and sustainability in understanding today's environmental issues.

2.      Learn and apply The Natural Step framework for planning and decision-making.

3.      Learn to use critical and creative thinking skills to find solutions to environmental problems.

4.      Develop the ability to synthesize concepts from an interdisciplinary perspective.

5.      Develop the ability to communicate effectively to others what has been learned (oral, graphic and written presentation).

How goals will be evaluated

§         Written paper - evaluated on synthesis of information during the course, evidence of critical and original thinking and writing (spelling, grammar, etc.)


§         Group project - oral presentation evaluated on content and presentation, supplemented by written and graphic presentation, evaluated on content and synthesis of principles taught on course


§         Individual project - oral presentation evaluated on content and presentation, supplemented by written report presentation, evaluated on content and synthesis of principles taught on course


§         Short written exams - multiple choice and short answer


§         Participation in class discussions, presentations and exercises

Course Process

Lectures will include a lot of images and practical examples. There will be an opportunity for small group work and discussion during both lecture and lab time.


The labs (shown in light gray on the course calendar) will be project-oriented, focusing on a planning exercise to enhance sustainability at Dominican College. This semester, we will be looking at possibilities for restoring the creeks running through campus, with related landscape and design issues. This will be done in small groups. The final project will be presented during the time allocated for the final exam. It is a group project, and each student will be assessed on the final project and the presentation. The instructor will facilitate these projects during lab time.


During lab sessions, you will learn and practice several different techniques of creative thinking. The skills you will learn can be applied to many other projects and disciplines and will enhance both your ability to think creatively and to communicate with others. The teaching style will be participatory, with a high degree of involvement from students. There will be use of verbal, written and graphic techniques. Lab sessions will include work outside, such as observation of the campus and ecological conditions on the campus. The graphic techniques will not be assessed on artistic merit, anyone can use them to enhance their thinking and communication. They will be assessed on content and on showing the application of critical thinking skills to the material presented during the course.

Student Conduct Expectations:


Responsible students attend lectures and labs regularly and arrive before class begins and remain until it ends. Three unexcused absences per semester will prevent the student from obtaining a grade higher than a C regardless of the examination grades. Five unexcused absences will result in an F for the class. Three tardies constitute one unexcused absence. Attendance will be taken at each meeting.



The participatory and involved nature of the teaching mean that disturbances from cell phones and pagers are disruptive to the entire class.


Grading Policies and Practices

Grading Criteria:


A  Outstanding work, showing a mastery of material and synthesis with your own original thinking. Students is always prepared for class, shows a high caliber of oral and written work, which includes reading outside of the textbook and a clear analysis of theories. Student participates fully in class discussions and in group project.


B Very good work, significantly better than average, with thorough preparation, clear cogent prose in written and oral work, shows frequent and appropriate contributions in class, mastery of content with evidence of original thought and analysis.


C Average work, satisfactory. Student is well prepared for class, uses clear, correct prose in written and oral work, including class discussions.


D Below standard work, credit is given for the work, though the amount and/or quality falls below the standards of the class.


F Insufficient and/or unacceptable work because the amount and/or quality falls below the standards of the class.




1. Before the class, read the chapters in text book, as assigned in course schedule. This reading includes the extra case studies and discussion points in boxes throughout the text. It is wise to think about the Critical Thinking Questions at the end of each chapter. Reading the chapters before class is essential in order to enhance participation in class discussion and to be able to ask questions of the instructor about the material.


2. There will be 3 oral presentations in total, these are noted in the course schedule. The first two are individual presentations and the third is a group presentation.


3. Each student will be evaluated on a group project. The evaluation will consist of: observation of input into the group process, assessment of the content and presentation of the final project.


4. Each individual will choose one aspect of the overall planning project that they wish to explore in more depth and will investigate this further outside of class as an individual project (a list of possibilities will be provided in lab). This will involve learning more about the principles being explored in lab, an elaboration of their application to the overall design process and investigation into how the chosen topic fits into the overall plan.


5. There will be two exams. Exams will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions. Each exam will cover material presented since the last exam from readings, lectures and discussions.


6. There will be one written essay, chosen from a range of essay questions to be assigned by the instructor. This essay will be 1500 - 2000 words in length. Each student will hand in work towards this essay in the middle of the term. This is an assessed midway plan, and will include: Mind Map of essay structure, working bibliography and thesis statement. These will be graded and handed back with comments for assisting you in completing the final assignment. This is in order to enhance the opportunities for the student to write a good essay and to learn from the experience. There will be a handout describing the essay questions and assessment procedure.


7 . There will be a field trip, and 2 extra planning sessions on campus that will include practical work outside.




Exam 1


Group Project


Exam 2


Individual Project


Mid-way Assessment on Essay










                        A = 90 - 100 %

                        B = 80 - 89 %

                        C = 70 - 79 %

                        D = 60 - 69 %

                        F = below 60 %


Assignments must be handed in on time (see course schedule for dates). Any late assignments must be discussed and agreed by instructor one week before the deadline, and must stem from unexpected and extreme circumstances. Exams must be taken on the date specified unless arranged in advance with instructor.



A Mind Map is a graphic technique for representing ideas, using words, images, symbols and color. Tony Buzan, president of the Brain Foundation, founder of The Brain Trust and creator of the concept of mental literacy, developed the technique. Mind Mapping is based on patterns found in nature and research on how humans think and use their minds. These techniques will be taught and used through-out the course, and participants will learn how to use mind maps for teaching, in group work and for design, creative thinking and organizing ideas. The ‘Mind Map Book’ by Tony Buzan, Plume/Penguin publishers, is excellent.