GEOG 431
Geography of Water Resources



Geography 431: Geography of Water Resources

Syllabus (Spring 2023)

This syllabus is divided into several sections. It is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Course Orientation. Together these serve as our course "contract."


Lauren M. T. Broyles
Ph.D. Candidate
The Department of Civil Engineering
The College of Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University

  • E-mail: Please send all e-mail through the course e-mail system (see the Inbox tab in Canvas).
  • Office Hours: via Zoom by appointment. Please reach out to me via email to set up an appointment.
  • NOTE: Instructor will read and respond to Canvas inbox messages / emails within 24 hours during the work week (Monday through Friday). They may respond occasionally on the weekends, but please don't count on it!

Course Communication

As an online course, communications between the course instructor and students necessarily proceed asynchronously. I have made an effort to provide sufficient instructions for progressing through the lessons, but, undoubtedly, you will have questions and comments. These should be sent through the Canvas inbox whenever possible, though communication via email may be used if Canvas is unavailable. Before emailing with an administrative question, kindly check the course syllabus. More importantly, all email correspondence should be considerate and professional. I will not respond to emails that contain offensive comments or text messaging jargon.

If you think your question may have broad application to the all students in the course, then you can post it on the "Course Questions?" discussion forum listed under Resources module on Canvas. You may get a more rapid and more useful response from one of your classmates!

Please keep "Netiquette" guidelines in mind when communicating with others throughout the course. The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as email and discussion posts. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Course Overview

Geography 431 is designed for students to gain further understanding about the natural processes of aquatic ecosystems, management of water resources, and threats to sustaining water quantity and quality, for all types of freshwater - surface, groundwater, rivers, lakes, wetlands. This course should appeal to water resource managers, geographers, ecologists, earth scientists, planners, other environmental professionals as well as non-science majors. This course will develop awareness and appreciation of the multiple perspectives about water as a precious resource, commodity, and sometimes hazard.

We will learn how and why water is distributed unevenly in space and time around the Earth. We will examine the ways in which resource management decisions made in human society are strongly related to the availability, quantity, and quality of water. Students in the course will first examine water characteristics, sources, classification systems, and aquatic ecosystems. Next, we will examine water resource management, including issues surrounding irrigation; floods and dams; provision of safe potable water; threats to water quantity and quality including human and aquatic ecosystem effects; the water economy including virtual water and water footprints; water laws and policy; institutions for water management at the global, national, regional, and local scale; and issues of water conflict, security, and climate change.

Instructional techniques will include: use of traditional readings and Microsoft PowerPoints; use of interactive web resources; use of mixed media illustrations of places, phenomena, and events (e.g., photography, remote-sensing imagery, video); sharing of in-depth topics investigated by students using “white papers”; and journal-style articles.

Course Objectives

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

  • identify the unique characteristics of freshwater;
  • describe, with a geographic perspective, how and why freshwater is distributed unevenly in space and time around the Earth;
  • explain the natural processes of aquatic ecosystems;
  • discuss why conflicts arise over freshwater;
  • identify the challenges facing water management in varied climate types around the world;
  • compare how humans interact with aquatic ecosystems.

Prerequisites and concurrent courses: 6 credits in geography or natural sciences

Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be dis-enrolled during the first 10-day free add-drop period after being informed in writing by the instructor (see Senate policy 34-60, Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses). If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Students who re-enroll after being dis-enrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct.

Time Management

I expect that you will treat this course in the same manner you would a credit-bearing face-to-face section of an upper level course. You should expect to spend the same amount of time on this course that you would spend in and out of class in your other courses. On average, most students spend 10-12 per week working on course assignments. Your workload may be more or less depending on your study habits and comfort with writing.

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 me as well as with your fellow students. Ask lots of questions and do not leave assignments to the last minute! Again, you'll learn more, do better...and be happier!

Required Course Materials

Required textbook

Holden, Joseph (ed.). 2020. Water resources, An Integrated Approach 2nd edition. Routledge, London and New York.
ISBN:  978-1138329225

You may purchase the text from any vendor you choose. Alternatively, you can access the electronic version of the textbook here or through Penn State's Libraries website.

I believe you will find this text quite informative for many lessons in the course. Joseph Holden, the text's editor, is a distinguished British professor who has gathered co-authors that bring varied international perspectives to the topic. The book is current, and has abundant references and resources. A useful glossary begins on p.447.

Additional readings will be posted as PDFs on Canvas during the course of the semester, or weblinks will be provided. Readings and Resources are listed with each lesson. It is essential for students to keep up with reading assignments.

Assistance with textbooks

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, please visit the Office of Student Care and Advocacy at 120 Boucke Building or call 814-863-4926. For additional needs, related to socioeconomic status, please visit Project Cahir.

Online lesson content

All other materials needed for this course are presented online through our course website and in Canvas. In order to access the online materials, you need to have an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the online course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.


There are eight written assignment worth 30 points each, four quizzes worth 25 points each, and six discussion worth 20 points each. The written assignments are worth 60% of your final grade, the quizzes are worth 25% of your final grade, and the discussions are worth 15% of your final grade. Each lesson is listed in the Planned Course Schedule below with the associated assignment(s) and indicating the block of material you are responsible for on each quiz.

Written Assignments (8 x 30 points each) 60% of final grade.

Assignments consist of written papers (please use Microsoft Word), Microsoft PowerPoints, exercises, and activities. Papers are relatively short, usually 1-2 page summaries, descriptions, essays, or reactions. Microsoft PowerPoints will be created for several lessons to summarize your explorations of a particular lesson topic (Lessons 2, 3). The assignments are designed to familiarize you with various water resource topics and issues. The time and effort to complete each assignment will vary, but they all contribute the same amount (30 points) toward your overall grade. For some assignments, a template or example is provided. For standard, text-based assignments, you are expected to proofread your paper or essay before submitting to the instructor for grading. I will grade and give you feedback for all assignments through Canvas.

It is important that your work be submitted in the proper format to the appropriate Canvas Drop Box by 11:59pm EST on Sundays. I 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. Again, you'll learn more, do better...and be happier!

A 12 pt font size is preferred, using a standard font style such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Use a 6.5-inch text field, which creates 1-inch margins. Single space the text. An excellent reference by Joe Schall for writing and formatting papers, reports, and presentations (and lots of other useful hints) is available through this EMS link. Have a look - it is quite useful and easy to follow.

Citation and Reference Style:
Use a science-based style for all citations - articles, books, reports, images, websites, etc. Unfortunately, there is not a singular style that everyone uses. For convenience, the references cited section at the back of any chapter of your text (Holden 2014) has many acceptable examples (no italics necessary, except for scientific names). You can also consult chapter 5 of Joe Schall's Style for Students Online or the Citation Styles guide under the "Resources" tab on this website. Graphics should include a caption consisting of a figure number, short description, and in-text citation.

Quizzes (4 x 25 points each) 25% of final grade.

There are no extensive exams for this course. However, four short quizzes will be given periodically covering the information and issues from the lessons. These quizzes will be used to assess your basic knowledge on foundational information you can take away from the course. All reading materials, lecture presentations, and associated weblinks provided for the lessons associated with each quiz can be used as material for the questions.

Discussions (6 x 20 points each) 15% of final grade.

Discussions will open in Canvas roughly every two weeks to examine modules in depth and relate their material to "real-life" applications and/or current events. These exercises are intended to expose you to a broader array of experiences with and approaches to the course material. Please remember keep "Netiquette" guidelines in mind when participating in discussions.

Late Policy

Late homework will be accepted with no penalty under the following circumstances: (1) if prearranged with the instructor; (2) if the result of a documented emergency; or (3) if documented illness. Otherwise late assignments will lose 10% of the available points for each additional day they are late. Unless an extension is given, no assignments will be accepted after 7 days following the original due date.

Make-up Exam/Quiz Policy

This course has no exams, but we do have quizzes. Quizzes open to the students ten days before the due date and can be taken any time during those ten days. Because the quizzes are available for ten days, I do not expect to offer make-up quizzes.

Academic Integrity and AI-Generated Content

According to Penn State policy G-9: Academic Integrity, an academic integrity violation is "an intentional, unintentional, or attempted violation of course or assessment policies to gain an academic advantage or to advantage or disadvantage another student academically." For this course, you are expected to complete all course work entirely on your own, and you may not assist other students with assignments, quizzes, or other assessments, with the exception of group assignments where teammates are expected to collaborate. You may not use ideas, images, or word phrases created by another person (e.g., from Course Hero or Chegg) or by generative technology such as ChatGPT or other AI chatbots to compose or revise your work. You may not submit false or fabricated information, use the same academic work for credit in multiple courses, or share instructional content. Students with questions about academic integrity should ask their instructor before submitting work.

Students facing allegations of academic misconduct may not drop/withdraw from the affected course unless they are cleared of wrongdoing (see G-9: Academic Integrity). Attempted drops will be prevented or reversed, and students will be expected to complete course work and meet course deadlines. Students who are found responsible for academic integrity violations face academic outcomes, which can be severe, and put themselves at jeopardy for other outcomes which may include ineligibility for Dean's List, pass/fail elections, and grade forgiveness. Students may also face consequences from their home/major program.


Breakdown of assignment values as a percentage of total course grade.
Graded Item Number Points per Assignment Percent of Final Grade
Assignments 8 30 points each 60%
Quizzes 4 25 points each 25%
Discussions 6 20 points each 15%

I will use the Canvas gradebook to keep track of your grades. You can see your grades in the gradebook by clicking the Grades tab in Canvas. Overall course grades will be determined as follows. Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned.

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)

Course Schedule

Below, you will find a summary of the primary learning activities for this course and the associated time frames. This course is 12 weeks in length, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. Each lesson is one week long. See our Calendar in Canvas for specific lesson time frames and assignment due dates.

Typical Weekly Schedule: Lessons open at 12:01am EST on Fridays. You will have 10 days to review readings, write up written assignments, and complete quizzes by 11:59pm EST on Sundays.

*Remember to watch the dates carefully.

A Typical Weekly Schedule
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday







and Quizzes

GEOG 431 Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

NOTE: See the Canvas Syllabus or Calendar for a full semester calendar of events. With recent COVID impacts, some assignments and readings are subject to change.

Course Orientation
Dates Week 0 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Course Orientation
  • Syllabus
Assignments Perform tasks outlined in course orientation to become familiar with the course and the course environment.
  • Personalize your Canvas Profile.
  • Set up Canvas notification preferences.
  • Post your Personal Introduction on the Course Orientation Discussion Forum.
Lesson 1: What Is Freshwater?
Dates Week 1 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Lecture 1.1 - Introduction
  • Holden (2020) - Holden, Chapter 1 - Water Basics (p.1-19)
  • Assignment 1.1 Two-page synopsis of a historic use of water.
Lesson 2: Freshwater sources Part 1 - Precipitation and surface flows
Dates Week 2 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.

NOTE: The readings for Lesson 2 are substantial, so allow sufficient time.

Online lesson material
  • Holden (2020) - Sitch and Drake, Chapter 2 - The changing water cycle (p.23-52)
  • Holden (2020) - Holden, Chapter 3 - Surface water hydrology (p.61-94)
  • Lecture 2.1 - Surface Water and Precipitation 
  • Lesson 2.2 - Lecture 2.2 - Floods and Droughts 
  • Brooks, RP, C Snyder, MM Brinson. 2013. Aquatic Landscapes: the importance of integrating waters. Pages 1-37, Chapter 1 in RP Brooks and DH Wardrop (eds.) Mid-Atlantic Freshwater Wetlands: Advances in science, management, policy, and practice. Springer Science+Business Media, 491+xiv pp.
  • Holden (2020) - skim Chapman et al., Chapter 4 - Surface water quality (p.99-142) to become familiar with human-generated impacts and stressors that pollute freshwater resources.
  • No written assignment this week. Focus on the substantial readings and learning concepts and terms.
  • Discussion #1: Physical Impacts of Water
Lesson 3: Freshwater sources Part 2 - Groundwater
Dates Week 3 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Lecture 3.1 - Groundwater
  • Holden (2020) - West and Sinha, Chapter 5 - Groundwater (p.151-173, skim Groundwater Chemistry section of chapter 173-189 to develop an introductory comprehension of groundwater chemistry and the danger of contaminants)
  • Winter, TC, JW Harvey, OL Franke, and WM Alley. 1998. Ground water and surface water - a single resource. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1139. 87pp. [PDF provided]
  • Assignment 3.1 Diagram a generalized hydrologic cycle for a large watershed or river basin in your geographic location or region.
  • Take Quiz #1 covering material presented in lessons 1, 2, and 3, PPT lectures, readings, and weblinks.
Lesson 4: Defining and classifying aquatic ecosystems
Dates Week 4 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Skim PDFs listed under Classification System Resource Documents
  • Assignment 4.1 Explore and use National Wetlands Inventory and submit your classification of five aquatic features.
Lesson 5: Distribution of climate types and aquatic ecosystems worldwide
Dates Week 5 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Lecture 5.1 - Köppen Climate System
  • Readings from associated websites
  • No assignments this week
  • Discussion #2: Water Science Communication
Lesson 6: Aquatic Ecosystems: Characteristics, Functions, and Ecosystem Services
Dates Weeks 6 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Holden (2020) - Brown et al., Chapter 6 - Aquatic ecosystems (p.195-232)
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being: Wetlands and water. Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC. 80pp.
  • Russi et al. (2013)
  • Assignment 6.1 Complete and submit your Ecosystem Service written report.
  • Take Quiz #2 covering material presented in lessons 4, 5, and 6, plus readings.
Lesson 7: Patterns of freshwater use. Part 1 - Water Supply: drinking, irrigation, industrial
Dates Week 7 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Lecture 7.1 - Drinking water and wastewater
  • Lecture 7.2 - Dams and irrigation 
  • Holden (2020) - Horan, Chapter 8 (p.289-319)
  • Holden (2020) - McDonald & Mitchell, Chapter 9 (p.323-347)
  • Assignment 7.1 water resources article critique
Lesson 8: Patterns of freshwater use. Part 2 Wastewater, energy, transportation
Dates Week 8 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Lesson material
  • Holden (2020) - Horan, Chapter 8 - Potable water and wastewater treatment (p.289-319)
  • Lecture 8.1 - Wastewater 
  • Glassman, D. et al. 2011. The water-energy nexus. World Policy Institute. Microsoft Powerpoint
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). 2014. The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities - Overview and Summary.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website for navigation: US Army Corps of Engineers
  • No Assignments this week
  • Discussion #3: Green Infrastructure
  • Take Quiz #3 covering material in Lessons 7 and 8.
Lesson 9: Water law, regulation, and policy
Dates Week 9 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Lecture 9.1 - Water Law Regulation and Policy
  • Holden (2020) - Barua & Tongper, Chapter 11 Water conflict, law and governance (p.386-401, Water rights)
  • McElfish, JM, Jr., and RP Brooks. 2013. Policy and regulatory programs affecting wetlands and waters of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Pages 441-462, Chapter 13 in RP Brooks and DH Wardrop (eds.) Mid-Atlantic Freshwater Wetlands: Advances in science, management, policy, and practice. Springer Science+Business Media, 491+xiv pp.
  • Rapanos White Paper: Brooks and Havens 2014, Proposal to USEPA
Suggested, but optional
  • USEPA & Corps 2007 Rapanos Guidance
  • Assignment 9.1: Opinion Paper - Rapanos v. United State 547 U.S. 715
  • Discussion #4: Water in the News
Lesson 10: Conflicts over water (historic and current; North America & World)
Dates Week 10 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Holden (2020) - Tongper and Barua, Chapter 11 Water conflict, law and governance (p.381-386, skim remainder previously read for Lesson 9).
  • Case Study #1 - Conflict over the Nile River
  • Case Study #2 - Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam Project
  • Source for water conflicts worldwide:
  • Sultana, F. and A. Loftus. 2015. The human right to water
  • Assignment 10.1: Water Conflict Essay
  • Discussion #5: Water - Human Right or Commodity?
Lesson 11: Conservation of freshwater and future needs
Dates Week 11 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Lesson 11 Online Course Content
  • Assignment 11.1: A 2-3 page written report that includes the numeric results of your personal (or family) water footprint and threats to the selected nation’s water resources
Lesson 12: Summary of Geography of Water Resources
Dates Week 12 - See the calendar in Canvas for specific dates.
Readings Online lesson material
  • Course evaluation: complete and submit your critique of GEOG 431
  • Take Quiz #4 covering material from lessons 9, 10, and 11, plus readings.

Class Support Services

Penn State Online offers online tutoring to World Campus students in math, writing, and some business classes. Tutoring and guided study groups for residential students are available through Penn State Learning.

Course Policies

Prerequisites and Concurrent Courses

Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be disenrolled according to Administrative Policy C-5; if they do not have the proper prerequisite override. If you have not completed the listed prerequisites, then promptly consult with the instructor if you have not done so already. Students who add the course after being disenrolled, according to this policy, are in violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the World Campus 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 IT Service Desk (for World Campus students) or Penn State's IT Help Portal (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.


This course must be viewed using the latest version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Edge. Internet Explorer is not supported. If you use any other browser, or if you are not using the latest version of your browser, some pages containing equations may not render properly. In addition, javascript must be enabled for equations to render properly. If you have any issues with equations not rendering properly, please update your browser to the latest version or try using a different browser. If you need additional technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the 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 Penn State 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 procedures 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 Academic Integrity Training 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 Office for Student Disability Resources website provides contact information for Campus Disability Coordinators at every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Office for Student Disability Resources 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 documentation guidelines at 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.

Change in Normal Campus Operations

In case of weather-related delays or other emergency campus disruptions or closures 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 these delays or closures. If you are affected by a weather-related emergency, please contact your instructor at the earliest possible time to make special arrangements.

Reporting Educational Equity Concerns

Penn State takes great pride in fostering 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.

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 well-being.  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 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

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.

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 to others whom you do not know.

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time for reasons that are beyond your control, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor, following Penn State Deferred Grade Policy 48-40. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to the instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. Non-emergency permission for filing a deferred grade must be requested before the beginning of the final examination period.  It is up to the instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If permission is granted, you will work with the instructor to establish a communication plan and a clear schedule for completion within policy.  If, for any reason, the coursework for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript.


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 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.


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 to you via e-mail, course announcement and/or course discussion forum.

Student Code of Conduct

Detailed information about the Student Code of Conduct, expected student behavior, student rights, and the judicial process is available at the Office of Student Conduct (link is external).