Environment & Humans, ECOL 3070, University of Georgia, Fall, 2012

We will update this page as the semester progresses.
Students should check it at least weekly for assignments, deadlines, and other information.

Catalog Desciption


General course goal

Our goal is to teach you how to think critically and foster your creativity. We will focus on developing your thinking and presentation skills, understanding concepts and constraints, and not memorizing facts. We will address issues of most interest to class members, not survey all environmental issues of current concern. You will learn through lectures, discussion, field trips, and assignments. You have a tabula rasa upon which to build an independent project -- hopefully one that will teach others to interact with our environment in a better, sustainable way.

  1. Enviromental problems -- Identify ones upon which to focus (over-population, climate change, energy use, public health, biodiversity, invasive species, evidence based policy,...). You should plan to become an expert in one local, regional, or global environmental issue.
  2. Tools -- learn theory, logical skills, scientific method, experimental design, ecological and evolutionary principles, technology, teamwork,...
  3. Local natural history -- get into the outdoor classroom, learn about the diversity of life around you, photograph nature, collect and analyze data,...
  4. Independent projects -- Can your team change the world?


Time -- 11:00AM-1:45PM, Tuesdays


Dates -- The following is our tentative schedule based on UGA's official calendar for Fall Semester, 2012. It may change for logistic and other reasons.

  • 14 Aug -- Introduction
    • Course structure
    • Film: Home
    • Student introductions
    • Assignment-1:
      List two books that you would like to be considered for possible book reports.
      For each, please list 1) author, 2) year, 3) title, 4) publisher, and 5) ISBN.
      Email it to dl@discoverlife.org -- Subject: 'ECOL 3070 -- Books -- your name'

      Due before midnight 26 August.

       [Add: 13-21 Aug; Drop: 13-16 Aug]

  • 21 Aug -- Environmental and Ecological Questions
    • Class Discussion
    • The Big Why -- What are the 10 most pressing environmental and ecological questions?
    • Turn in waiver form for field trip
    • Assignment-2:
      •Bring a $50 check made out to the 'UGA Odum School of Ecology' for the camping trip.
      •Bring a digital camera that passes the Dime Test.
      •Bring a laptop.
      Due in class 28 August.

  • 28 Aug -- Tragedy of the Commons; Inventory and monitoring techniques
       [3 Sep -- Labor Day Holiday]

  • 4 Sep -- Camping logistics, Species identification, ...

  • 7-9 Sep, Friday-Sunday -- WILDERNESS FIELD TRIP -- Joyce Kilmer, North Carolina
    Tips & What to Bring
    Cost: $50
    Requires: Camping and backpacking gear; good attitude, even if it rains.
    • Friday: Drive to Joyce Kilmer, leaving 3:00PM, meet in the parking lot on the north side of the Ecology Building
      Car camp -- Rattler Ford Group Campground -- Site 001
    • Saturday: visit Memorial Grove old-growth forest, hike to top on Naked Ground Trail, wilderness camp.
    • Sunday: Overlook, decend, return to Athens, arriving early evening.
    Excused absences: Attendance is required on this field trip. Exceptions will be considered if your are handicapped, on the football team,...

  • 11 Sep -- Recovery -- Sign-up for book reports [NO CLASS, unless you need to get a partner and choose a book.]

    • Assignment-4:
       Send an email to dl@discoverlife.org -- Subject: 'ECOL 3070 -- Book report -- partners' names'
       with partners names, book title, and date at which you will give your report.

       Due before 5:00PM, Tuesday, 11 September.

  • 18 Sep -- Independent project -- Biotic survey (Van 93551)
    • Book reports
    • Join a group: Group-1 or Group-2
    • Albums: Uploading, tagging where and when, moth identification.
    • In class assignment-5:
      • (a) How much did sea level change last century?
      • (b) How much will it change this century?
      • (c) How much did global average temperature change last century?
      • (d) How much will it change this century?
    • Assignment-6:
      Bring 3 different estimates to the questions (a)-(d) above including your sources to class on 25 September.

  • 25 Sep -- Independent project -- Biotic survey (Van 93551)
    • Group-1: Bring a laptop to class. Species identification.
    • Group-2: Bring a digital camera to class. Field trip: Orange Trail, State Botanical Garden.

  • 2 Oct -- Biotic survey

       [Midterm: 4 Oct]

  • 9 Oct -- Book report -- Biotic survey--The Story of Stuff

  • 16 Oct Climate Change -- Book report -- The Omnivore's Dilemma
    • Film: An Inconvenient Truth (part)
    • Discussion: How will species respond to temperature change?

       [Withdrawal Deadline: 18 Oct]

  • 23 Oct -- Climate Change -- Discussion of Independent Project Topics

       [Fall Break: Friday, 26 Oct]

  • 30 Oct -- Independent projects -- meet in small groups to brainstorm ideas

  • 6 Nov -- Book reports --A World without Ice and Hot, Flat, and Crowded

  • 13 Nov -- Book reports--Ishmael and Where There Are Mountains and Silent Spring

       [20 Nov -- Thanksgiving Holiday]

  • 27 Nov -- Book report--The Silent Deep; Independent projects and species identification

  • 4 Dec -- Friday Schedule -- no class

       [Reading Day: 5 Dec]

  • 6 Dec, Thursday, 12:00-3:00PM -- Video festival

  • 16 Dec, Sunday, 9:00AM -- Video and Album due. Email video to dl@discoverlife.org

       [Grades due: 17 Dec, 5:00PM]


Photographic Album

One of your assignments is to "digitally collect," document and identify 30 species accurately in your photographic album. For details see 'How to contribute' under Albums and Things to Know for Natural History Photography Albums. In this class you will be expected to submit, document and identify photographs of

  • 10 wildflowers
  • 15 insects (including 10 moths)
  • 5 additional species (including insects, plants, frogs, mammals, birds, lichens, spiders, mushrooms,...)
  • ladybugs count as wildcards -- you may use them to fill any category.
These species must be of wild things, not ones from zoos, pet shops, pinned museum specimens, herbarium specimens, and the like. Pay particular attention to the sections on academic honesty. This album is your collection and not something that someone else has done. The photographs must be your own. Also be warned that this assignment is a procrastinator's nightmare. Get started early and it is an easy assignment. Wait until the night before it is due and you will be in deep trouble. Plan on submitting more photographs than you think necessary, because you will probably not be able to identify everything that you photograph.


Academic honesty

All academic work must meet the standards contained in "A Culture of Honesty." Students are responsible for informing themselves about those standards before performing any academic work. The link to more detailed information about academic honesty can be found at: http://www.uga.edu/honesty.


The course has no assigned text. You will be expected to present a book report to the class with a partner, starting on 2 October. Select from the following (examples):

Reference texts and other readings [not for book assignments]

  • Trivers, R. L. 1985. Social Evolution. Benjamin/Cummings. ISBN 0-8053-8507-X.
  • Smith, T. M. and R. L. Smith. 2009. Elements of Ecology (Seventh Edition). Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN 0-321-55957-6/978-0321-55957-9.
  • Stiling, P. D. 1996. Ecology: Theories and Applications (Second Edition). Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-221939-5.
  • Ricklefs, R. E. 1990. Ecology (Third Edition). W. H. Freeman & Co. ISBN 0-7167-2077-9.


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