Syllabus: Online sections

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Water: Science and Society
Fall Semester, 2017

This syllabus is divided into several sections. You can read it sequentially by scrolling down the length of the document or by clicking on any of the links below to “jump” to a specific section.


Course Overview

Description

This course is designed as a general-education investigation of the importance of water to the existence of life on Earth, and the qualities of water that lead to its unusual but critical properties. The first part of the course will provide a basic scientific background for understanding water movement, occurrence, and behavior, through a series of interactive activities. The second part of the course will draw upon this scientific framework to understand the relationships between water and human activities. Among other diverse topics, we will examine the role of water in climate regulation, the impact of water on human populations and activities, the benefits and drawbacks of modern water management strategies related to irrigation and dams, and policy issues regarding water quality and availability. A sense of the human history of water use and the impacts of natural cycles will be conveyed through activities, virtual field trips (filmed footage with the instructors and discussion focused on key topics related to surface water, water re-use and recycling, and dams), and assigned readings and associated online discussions. Although we will focus on case studies from the American West, we will extend this to include global issues of water scarcity and potential conflict, for example in India, China, and the fertile crescent.

Course Objectives

When you successfully complete this course, you will be prepared to:

  • Effectively describe the two-way relationship between water resources and human society: how water availability and quality affect economic opportunities and human well-being and how human activity affects water resources.
  • Knowledgeably explain the distribution and dynamics of water at the surface and in the subsurface of the Earth and how the distribution and characteristics are expected to change over the next 50 years.
  • Identify appropriate data collection practices for a variety of hydrologic data, synthesize and analyze data from multiple sources, and interpret the results.
  • Develop strategies and best practices to decrease water stress and increase water quality
  • Thoughtfully evaluate information and policy statements regarding the current and future predicted state of water resources and communicate their evaluations in terms that can be understood by the general public.

Expectations

On average, most students spend eight to ten hours per week working on course assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits.

We have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. The Internet may still be a novel learning environment for you, but in one sense it is no different from a traditional college class: how much and how well you learn is ultimately up to you. You will succeed if you are diligent about keeping up with the class schedule and if you take advantage of opportunities to communicate with us as well as with your fellow students.

Specific learning objectives for each lesson and project are detailed within each lesson.

Required Course Materials

The course relies heavily on readings provided online through our course website, and from the assigned textbook, “The Big Thirst”, by Charles Fishman. The reading assignments for each module are listed in the course schedule below, on the course website, and in your course management system (Canvas). Any additional citations for further reading are also provided in each module.


Assignments

This course will rely on a variety of methods to assess and evaluate student learning, including:

  • Labs - your lab for each module is one (or more) of the Formative or Summative assessments included in each module. Your instructor will inform you (in Canvas) which assessment serves as your weekly lab.
  • Discussions - you will provide comments on weekly discussion questions in an online discussion forum in your course management system.
  • Capstone activity will be introduced at the end of the first unit (Module 2)

It is important that your work be submitted in the proper format (including file name: make certain that your last name and module number is in file name: e.g. harris.module2b.docx) to the appropriate Drop Box or Discussion Forum in your course management system (CMS) and by the designated due date. See the dropbox in your course management system for any specific instructions when you go to submit. We strongly advise that you not wait until the last minute to complete these assignments—give yourself time to ask questions, think things over, and chat with others. You'll learn more, do better...and be happier!

Specific due dates for all assignments are posted in your course management system (Canvas). Please make sure you are aware of weekly deadlines.

Grading

Breakdown of each assignment's value as a percentage of total course grade.
Assignment Percent of Grade
Assessments in Web Modules (Labs) 50%
Weekly Discussions 25%
Capstone Activity 25%

Your scores for all assignments will be kept current in the Course Management System.

Letter Grade and Corresponding Percentages
Letter Grade Percentages
A 93 - 100 %
A- 90 - 92.9 %
B+ 87 - 89.9 %
B 83 - 86.9 %
B- 80 - 82.9%
C+ 77 - 79.9 %
C 70 - 76.9 %
D 60 - 69.9 %
F < 60 %
X

Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Late Policy/Missed Class Policy

This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities. If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by- case basis. Late work (without above exceptions) will be accepted for up to a week past the original due date with a point deduction of up to 2% per day late.

Disabilities

Persons with disabilities will be accommodated in accordance with university guidelines. Guidelines can be found at Penn State Educational Equity (link is external).

Academic Integrity (PSU)

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20 and G-9 Procedures). Cheating will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Cheating is unfair to your classmates and an insult to curiosity and intellectual inquiry. Discussion of course material outside of class and sharing of ideas are encouraged, but students are expected to complete all assignments individually, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations. All written work may be subject to electronic plagiarism checking. Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others. Anyone caught looking at or copying their neighbor's assignments or exams will receive an automatic failing grade on that assignment/exam and will be reported to University officials. General guidelines can be found in University Policies and Rules, p. 41. This course follows the Academic Integrity and Research Ethics (link is external) guidelines set out by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, in defining offenses and appropriate punishments.


Earth 111 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Below you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course is sixteen weeks in length, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. There are 12 weeks of material each involving a lab meeting. Most Modules are one week long, but some cover two weeks.

Weekly Schedule
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Assignments (Lab & discussions) from previous module are due online in Canvas by 11:59pm EST New module assignments become available in Canvas at 8am EST
Week 1: Course Orientation
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
  • Class Introduction and Orientation
Readings
  • none
Assignments
  • Perform tasks outlined in course orientation to become familiar with the course and the course environment
  • Post a self-introduction to the course Discussion Forum in your course management system
  • Complete the Initial Course Surveys
  • Begin your Water Journal for Module 1
Week 2: Freshwater Resources - A Global Perspective
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assessments/Labs
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 3: Climatology of Water
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments and Lab
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 4: Rivers and Watersheds
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 5: Flood and Drought
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 6: Dam It All!
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 7: Groundwater Hydrology Part 1: Aquifers and Properties
Dates ee Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
  • Online lesson material
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 8: Groundwater Hydrology Part 2: Aquifer Processes and Dynamics
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
  • Online lesson material
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 9: First Midterm
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
  • Modules 1-6
Readings
  • None
Assignments
  • Midterm in regular class meeting
  • World Campus students work on Capstone Project
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 10: What is in your water?
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 11: Cities in Peril Part 1: Dealing with Water Scarcity – history and current approaches
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 12: Cities in Peril Part 2: Dealing with Water Scarcity – future growth and climate change
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 13: Water and Politics
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question
Week 14: Solving the Water Crisis?
Dates see Canvas for dates and deadlines for all assignments
Topics
Readings
Assignments
Discussion Question See Canvas for your discussion question

Capstone Project: see Canvas for dates and deadlines


Course Policies

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the ITS Help Desk (for students at all other campus locations).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable Internet connection is required for this course. A problem with your Internet access may not be used as an excuse for late, missing, or incomplete coursework. If you experience problems with your Internet connection while working on this course, it is your responsibility to find an alternative Internet access point, such as a public library or Wi-Fi ® hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure web site which means that your connection is encrypted.  We do however link to content that isn't necessarily encrypted.  This is called mixed content.  By default, mixed content is blocked in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.  This may result in a blank page or a message saying that only secure content is displayed.  Follow the directions on our technical requirements page to view the mixed content.


Equations

This course must be viewed using one of the following browsers: Firefox (any version), Safari (versions 5.1 or 6.0), Chrome (0.3 or later), or Internet Explorer with the MathPlayer PlugIn. If you use any other browser, there will be pages containing equations that do not render properly. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk (for World Campus students) or the IT Service Desk (for students at all other campus locations).


Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from the Penn State World Campus are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information.

Academic Integrity

This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as "the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner." Academic integrity includes "a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception." In particular, the University defines plagiarism as "the fabrication of information and citations; submitting others' work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other students' papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own." Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: Contacts for Disability Resources at all Penn State Campuses. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources (SDR) website.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled. You will participate in an intake interview and provide documentation, see Applying for Services from Student Disability Resources. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Services include the following:

Counseling and Psychological Services at University Park  (CAPS): 814-863-0395
Counseling and Psychological Services at Commonwealth Campuses
Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741

Reporting Bias-Motivated Incidents

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated (Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance) and can be reported through Educational Equity via Report Bias.

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Inclement Weather

In case of weather-related delays at the University, this online course will proceed as planned. Your instructor will inform you if there are any extenuating circumstances regarding content or activity due dates in the course due to weather delays. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Connect Online with Caution

Penn State is committed to educational access for all. Our students come from all walks of life and have diverse life experiences. As with any other online community, the lack of physical interaction in an online classroom can create a false sense of anonymity and security. While one can make new friends online, digital relationships can also be misleading. Good judgment and decision making are critical when choosing to disclose personal information with others whom you do not know.


Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


Attendance

This course will be conducted entirely online. There will be no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments with specific due dates. Many of the assignments are open for multiple days, so it is your responsibility to complete the work early if you plan to travel or participate in national holidays, religious observances or University approved activities.

If you need to request an exception due to a personal or medical emergency, contact the instructor directly as soon as you are able. Such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Diversity, Inclusion, and Respect

Penn State is “committed to creating an educational environment which is free from intolerance directed toward individuals or groups and strives to create and maintain an environment that fosters respect for others” as stated in Policy AD29 Statement on Intolerance. All members of this class are expected to contribute to a respectful, welcoming and inclusive environment and to interact with civility.

For additional information, see:


Mandated Reporting Statement

Penn State’s policies require me, as a faculty member, to share information about incidents of sex-based discrimination and harassment (discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation) with Penn State’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinators, regardless of whether the incidents are stated to me in person or shared by students as part of their coursework. For more information regarding the University's policies and procedures for responding to reports of sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct, please visit Penn State's Office of Sexual Misconduct and Prevention & Response website.

Additionally, I am required to make a report on any reasonable suspicion of child abuse in accordance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.



Disclaimer

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. All changes will be communicated with you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.