EM SC 100S
First Year Seminar

EM SC 100S - EMS First Year Seminar


Welcome to EM SC 100S

  • Instructor: Dr. Todd S. Bacastow
  • Course Structure: Hybrid Classroom and Online, 7-8 hours a week for 15 weeks
  • Days/Location: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:05AM - 10:20AM, Room 008 Deike
  • Overview: Students will learn how geographers critically think about the world, how they analyze human activities using social- and behavioral-based science models, and the tools they apply in solving problems. The course consists of projects, associated readings, quizzes, and discussions about concepts.

Course Objectives

The EMS First-Year Seminar is designed to encourage students to begin the important process of "thinking for a living." The primary focus of the seminar is to promote critical reading and thinking skills, and to help students develop effective written and oral arguments. Students learn the importance of reading, sharing ideas and collaborating, through independent and group research, discussion and debate.

We want our students to think about some of the major issues facing the world today, the role that science and technology have played in defining and addressing these issues, the way in which present-day thinking has been shaped by the past, and the development of scientific thought. The Seminar's content focuses on communication skills, but these are addressed within the context of issues relevant to the disciplines represented in EMS. As such, the discussions range across topics such as the Earth and its resources; scientific and technical aspects of global habitability; development of the advanced materials necessary for sustaining and advancing civilization in the 21st century; and the social, economic, and political factors that shape and constrain society's view of the Earth system.

Students undertake three to five major writing projects throughout the semester, as well as several smaller one to two paragraph written assignments. Grades are determined from their performance on the written papers, oral presentations, and in-class participation.

The Seminar is a required course for all EMS first-year students at the University Park campus and, together with English 015 and either English 202 or Speech Communications 100, will satisfy the Writing and Speaking requirements of General Education.

Course Goals and Outcomes

Revolutionary advances in geospatial technologies, such as geographic information systems, GPS, satellites, and drones, impact nearly every aspect of our lives. Layers of geospatial technologies afford insights to solving personal, scientific, business, and societal problems in the interconnected global community. We depend on these technologies to fight climate change, map populations, track disease, assist first responders in protecting safety, and navigate our personal lives. The Geospatial Revolution gave us an essential body of knowledge and a broader range of users, including governments, corporations, workers, consumers, and citizens. Hand in hand with this broadening of users comes legitimate concerns about issues such as privacy, data confidentiality, and civil liberties. As geographic data become more available, accurate, and specific, legitimate concerns arise about public accountability by organizations collecting and using geographic data. Group projects, presentations, and discussions will form a critical component of this seminar. At the end of the semester, students will do a presentation that demonstrates a benefit and the consequences of the Geospatial Revolution.

At the completion of this course you will have:

  • Evaluated the impact and importance of the Geospatial Revolution in your life.
  • Discussed fundamental geographic concepts.
  • Applied geographic models to everyday life.
  • Judged between the benefits and potential misuse of geospatial technologies.