GEOG 897K
Map Projections

GEOG 897K Syllabus

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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 specific sections. That said, it is essential that you read the entire document as well as material covered in the Course Orientation. Together these serve the role of our course "contract."


Course Overview

GEOG 897k: Map Projections for Geospatial Professionals. Cultivates a working knowledge of map projections that professionals need to process geospatial data effectively for mapping and analysis.
Prerequisites: GEOG 484 or permission of the instructor.

This course discusses three fundamental mapping topics: datums, map projections, and grid systems.

A datum is a mathematical model that describes Earth’s size and shape. In addition, a datum sets the origin and orientation of the Earth’s coordinate systems. Datums are important to many applications such as surveying, mapping, and navigation as different datums each describe the exact geographic position of objects. Horizontal datums accurately set the origin of the Earth’s latitude and longitude network. Vertical datums set the origin for heights. Horizontal datums can be divided into those that are local and global. Local datums such as the North American Datum of 1927 were developed to accurately represent localized areas (i.e., North America). Other datums such as the World Geodetic Survey of 1984 were developed to accurately represent the entire world. Hundreds of datums have been developed, each trying to model Earth’s size and shape more accurately than another. Using the wrong datum for a geographic location can lead to considerable error in coordinate locations. GIS professionals need to be aware of differences in datums and how those differences will impact their mapping activities.

Map projections are mathematical formulae by which geographical coordinates that represent positions on the Earth (i.e., latitude and longitude) are transformed to plane coordinates that represent positions on two-dimensional representations. A natural consequence of this projection process is distortion in that no map is an error-free representation of the Earth’s two-dimensional curved surface. Distortion can negatively impact various kinds of measurement tasks that are carried out on a map. Knowledge of distortion patterns on a map is important to understand so that accurate map analysis can occur. Map projection formulae are implemented as algorithms in geographic information systems (GIS), image processing, and other kinds of mapping and analysis software. Although many types of map projections are available, only certain types are well suited to any given mapping or analysis task. Furthermore, since GIS often involves merging multiple datasets, each of which is likely to be the product of a different projection, GIS professionals need to be knowledgeable about this advanced topic.

Grid systems are Cartesian coordinate systems that are overlain on top of an existing map projection. One of the more commonly used grid systems that provides world-wide coverage is the Universal Transverse Mercator or UTM. Grid systems were developed in order to simplify the process of measuring, for example, distances and angles, on a map. In addition, by carefully choosing a map projection and minimizing the distortion throughout the map, a suitable grid system can be employed that will result in certain accuracy levels of measurement. At large scale mapping activities, a grid system is usually employed and thus GIS users need to be familiar with the development of a grid system, the underlying distortion from the map projection, and how measurement accuracy can be assessed when using a grid system.   

The course will be broken down into 10 weeks. Each lesson will take one week to complete. This course requires a minimum of 10-12 hours of student activity each week.

What will be expected of you?

Like any graduate level course, you will be challenged to move beyond the knowledge and skills that you bring to the class. This is a three (3)-credit course, you should expect to be busy; as a rough estimate, you should allow at least 10-12 hours per week for class assignments. Included in the 10-12 hours each week is time to complete projects and related activities. You'll be glad to know that you don't have to show up for class at a certain time! To avoid late penalties, you need to complete every assignment before the published deadline.

During the term, I encourage everyone to use the class discussion forums, chat rooms or e-mail to help each other find relevant materials and learn about map projections. I can always be contacted via class e-mail and will check my account daily during the week (and typically at least once each weekend). If I am traveling, I may check somewhat less frequently, but I will alert you of this beforehand.

My colleagues and I have worked hard to make this the most effective and convenient educational experience possible. 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.

For a more detailed look at what will be covered in each lesson, as well as due dates for our assignments and activities, please refer to the semester-specific course schedule that is part of this syllabus (see "Course Schedule").


Course Goals

GEOG 897k will provide students with an understanding of the concepts, terminology, and processes that will be useful in manipulating and handling datums, map projections, and coordinate systems.

At the successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Be conversant with and continue building a working knowledge of datum, map projection, and grid system terminology;
  • Effectively implement that terminology to modify and adjust datum, map projection, and grid  system parameters for specific mapping purpose outcomes;
  • Distinguish between a horizontal and vertical datum and the components that comprise each;
  • Explain why specific datum, map projection, and grid systems are adopted for various mapping situations in the GIS environment;
  • Understand how to weave through the often complex GIS environment’s interface when specifying datum, map projection, and grid system parameters;
  • Understand what impacts will occur as map projection parameters and datum definitions are modified for a specific coordinate system;
  • Transform coordinates from one map projection into coordinates into a different map projection;
  • Read metadata documents, retrieve, and implement map projection information contained within;
  • Import geospatial data into an existing GIS environment, paying particular attention to the situation when the data to import is not in the same projection or datum as the existing data;
  • Survey the mathematical processes involved in a coordinate conversion and datum transformation
  • Review the process of registration and rectification.

Educational objectives for each lesson are listed in the Course Schedule.


Required Course Materials

In order to take this course, you need to have the required course materials and an active Penn State Access Account user ID and password (used to access the on-line course resources). If you have any questions about obtaining or activating your Penn State Access Account, please contact the Outreach Helpdesk.

For many of the assignments you will be using ArcGIS for Desktop (Advanced / ArcINFO). You should be running either version 10.1 or version 10.2. If you need to upgrade to the latest version you should visit the Online Geospatial Education Program Dashboard (https://courseware.e-education.psu.edu/mgisdb/).

In addition to using ArcMap, you will use another map projection software package called Geocart. You will need to purchase Geocart for this course. The software is available online at the Mapthematics website. Once at the site, look under the Purchase tab. There are several different versions of Geocart. The main difference between the various versions is the included data. For our purposes in this class, you can select the Limited Student License for $100.00. This version of the software provides all of the map projection functionality found with the Professional License but without the extensive geographic database. You will use this software for a considerable portion of the course and is designed to supplement map projection functionality that is not present with ArcMap’s coordinate systems tools.

Recommended Course Materials

Although there is no required book for the course, I strongly encourage you to consider one or more of the following books. The concept galleries used in this course are just that - they present the general concepts on the different course topics. For a deeper understanding of the course topics and as a way to assist you in exploring this subject matter more fully you should consider at least the first two books. This list of texts are presented in order of my recommendation and relevance to the course topics:

Meyer, Thomas. 2010. Introduction to Geometrical and Physical Geodesy: Foundations of Geomatics. ESRI Press, Redlands, CA (ISBN: 9781589482159).

NOTE:
This is a rather recent text on the foundations of datums and map projections. There is ample coverage in this text regarding geodesy. There is also considerable coverage of physical geodesy (e.g., gravity, height, and tides and how these elements are incorporated into vertical datums). There is a rather light treatment of map projections and for that matter the next book on this list is recommended. This text is more mathematically inclined than the other books that follow - but don't let that scare you. This book has a lot of great reading.

Iliffe, Jonathan, and Lott, Roger. 2008. Datums and Map Projections for Remote Sensing, GIS, and Surveying. 2nd edition. Dunbeath Caithness, Scotland: Whittles Publishing (also available through CRC Press). (ISBN: 9781420070415).

NOTE:
This is a much improved second edition. The first edition was a bit muddy; but the second edition is greatly improved and is also highly recommended as it adequately covers both datums and map projections. This text nicely dovetails the topical coverage of GEOG 897k. This text balances mathematical treatments with discussions.

Sickle, Jan Van. 2010. Basic GIS Coordinates. 2nd edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press (ISBN: 9781420092318).

NOTE:
This is the second edition of a very accessible text covering the fundamental topics covered in this class. Gives a very different perspective on the same topics covered in this class without using hardly any mathematics. Highly recommended!

Maher, Margaret. 2010. Lining up Data in ArcGIS: A Guide to Map Projections. Redlands, California: ESRI Press (ISBN: 9781589482494).

NOTE:
This is a rather new text that explains in plain English how to manipulate coordinate systems in ArcGIS. This is not an in depth discussion of map projections, datums, and grid systems. This text offers basic guidance on how to deal with the more common problems you are likely to encounter when dealing with datums, map projections, grid systems, and CAD files in ArcMap. For example, one of the common problems addressed in this text is that "my shapefiles don't align." Be cautioned that this is not a reference book intending to teach you about the above concepts. While there are some cursory explanations and discussions the main focus of this text is the address ways to solve common coordinate system problems.

Flacke, Werner and Kraus, Birgit. 2005. Working with Projections and Datum Transformations in ArcGIS:Theory and Practical Examples.  Norden, Germany: Points Verlag (ISBN: 3980846350).

NOTE:
This book is a bit dated as it applied to ESRI version 8.x. In addition, this text is not for the novice but if you have a solid understanding of datums, map projections, and coordinate systems and how ArcMap emplyes them then this text will help build your understanding considerably. Even though the text was designed for version 8.x most of the coordinate system processes have changed little since its publication. If you do much in the way of programming and customization map projection processes the closing chapters of this book will surely expand your horizons.

Using the Library

Just like on-campus students, as a Penn State student you have a wealth of library resources available to you!

As a user of Penn State Libraries, you can...

  • search for journal articles (many are even immediately available in full-text)
  • request articles that aren't available in full-text and have them delivered electronically
  • borrow books and other materials and have them delivered to your doorstep
  • access materials that your instructor has put on Electronic Reserve
  • talk to reference librarians in real time using chat, phone, and e-mail
  • ...and much more!

To learn more about their services, see the Library Information for Off-site Users.


Assignments and Grading

Students earn grades that reflect the extent to which they achieve the learning objectives listed above. Opportunities to demonstrate learning include the following, and grades will be based on points assigned to each of several components of the course as follows:

  • Projects (70% of course grade): Each lesson concludes with a hands-on project to be completed individually by the student. See the course Calendar for project due dates.
  • Quizzes (20% of course grade): A quiz will be held at the end of each lesson to test the student's comprehension of class materials and other reading as required.
  • Class participation: Individual participation via each week's online discussion forum (10%)

Letter grades will be based on the following percentages:

Letter grades and percentages
Letter Grade Percentage Range
A 90-100%
A- 87.5-89.9%
B+ 85-87.4%
B 80-84.9%
B- 77.5-79.9%
C+ 75-77.4%
C 70-74.9%
D 60-69.9%
F <60%
X Unsatisfactory (student did not participate)

Percentages refer to the proportion of all possible points earned by the student.

Late Assignments

Students are expected to turn all required materials in on time according to the published course calendar. If an assignment is turned in late there is an automatic 15% reduction in your grade for that late assignment. No exceptions. Everyone is busy with their personal and professional endeavors. However, this full schedule does not remove your responsibility to meet weekly deadlines for turning in course materials on time. 


GEOG 897K Course Schedule

imagePrintable Schedule

Below you will find a summary of the lesson objectives for this course and the associated time frames. Assignment information will be located on each lesson's checklist. This course is 10 weeks in length, with an orientation week preceding the official start of the course. Each lesson is one week long and opens on Wednesday.

Lesson 0: Orientation
Date: Week 0
Objectives: At the successful completion of the Course Orientation, students should be able to:
  • Navigate between this course text and the Canvas course management system
  • Aarticulate your expectations about how and what you will learn in your online course
  • Understand how and what instructors expect you to learn in your online course
  • Locate key information about the course, including assignments, due dates, technical information, places to get help, and course policies
  • Understand course policies, including academic integrity
  • Communicate with instructors and fellow students
Readings:
  • Course Orientation Material
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete the Initial Course Survey.
  2. Introduce yourself to your colleagues.
  3. Review the Course Syllabus.

 

Lesson 1: Coordinate Systems Extents and Coordinate System Conversions
Date: Week 1
Objectives:

At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Understand what characterizes a geographic coordinate system in ArcMap;
  • Be able to correctly respond to ArcMap’s different warning messages that are displayed to users when incomplete or missing spatial reference information occurs;
  • Use specific guidelines to assess and identify a likely coordinate system (i.e., unprojected, Universal Transverse Mercator, State Plane Coordinate System, projected, or custom coordinate system ) when presented with only the numerical coordinate value extents or a data set;
  • Be able to explain what a coordinate conversion is and how it works to merge different map projections into a common projection system.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 1.
  2. In the Word document provided, answer questions that assess the results of your exploring coordinate system extents and coordinate system conversions. 
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with coordinate systems and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson. 
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 1 on the importance of datum transformations.
  5. Take the Lesson 1 quiz.

 

Lesson 2: Datum Fundamentals: Single and Double-Step Transformations
Date: Week 2
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Understand the evolution of how Earth’s size and shape came to be realized and how it impacts coordinate accuracy;
  • Understand the difference between a horizontal and vertical datum and the components of each;
  • Employ a working vocabulary of essential terminology appropriate to understanding the concepts of datum descriptions, datum parameters, historical datum use, and datum transformation processes;
  • Describe the components of a reference ellipsoid and how they relate to one another;
  • Explain the differences between a local and a global datum and for what purpose each is suited;
  • Understand and assess the differences and importance in using datums for geographic coordinate reference systems;
  • Learn how to take appropriate steps necessary to carry out a correct datum transformation.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 2.
  2. In a Word document, answer the questions that are posed within the lesson that deals with single- and double-step datum transformations. 
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with datum transformations and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson. 
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 2 about how coordinate systems impact measurement activities.
  5. Take the Lesson 2 quiz.

 

Lesson 3: Datum Transformation Methods
Date: Week 3
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Learn how to take appropriate steps necessary to carry out a correct datum transformation;
  • See the impact that a NADCON (North American Datum Conversion) datum transformation has on coordinate values across the United States;
  • See the impact that a grid-based transformation (HARN) has on coordinate values across the United States;
  • Explore the differences between a three and seven parameter transformation on a data set;
  • Learn how to recognize when a datum has been correctly and incorrectly assigned to a data set;
  • Understand strategies to correct situations when an inappropriate datum assignment has been made;
  • Create a customize set of transformation parameters for a three-parameter datum transformation.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 3.
  2. In a word document, answer the questions that are posed within the lesson that deals with datum transformations and their variants.
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with datum transformations and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson.
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 3 about how grid systems impact the measurement activities.
  5. Take the Lesson 3 quiz.

 

Lesson 4: Understanding and Analyzing Map Projection Distortion
Date: Week 4
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Understand the way in which ArcMap describes a projected coordinate system;
  • Be able to use map scale to understand how scale changes across the map projection;
  • Compute scale factors at locations across a map projection;
  • Be able to characterize distortion for the basic classes of map projections (cylindric, conic, and planar) through Geocart through the use of scale factors;
  • Utilize Tissot’s Indicatrix to analyze the type and amount of distortion across a projection’s surface at singular points;
  • Utilize color gradations to analyze distortion patterns across a projection’s surface.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 4.
  2. In a Word document, answer the questions that are posed within the lesson that deals with analyzing map projections and their distortions. 
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with datum transformations and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson. 
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 4 about how coordinate systems impact measurement activities.
  5. Take the Lesson 4 quiz.

 

Lesson 5: Map Projection Parameters
Date: Week 5
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Understand the map projection process so as to be able to employ the correct parameter values;
  • Coupled with what you learned in Lesson 4, visualize how each projection class creates unique distortion patterns;
  • Understand the difference between the standard point, line, and lines, aspect, central meridian, and latitude of origin and how they impact the appearance of the graticule;
  • Select appropriate latitude and longitude values to establish the standard point, line, and lines on a map projection;
  • Select appropriate latitude and longitude values to establish the aspect of a map projection;
  • Select appropriate longitude value to establish the central meridian on a map projection;
  • Be able to select appropriate latitude value to establish the latitude of origin on a map projection;
  • Muddle through the often contradictory world of map projection terminology.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 5.
  2. In a Word document, answer the questions that are posed within the lesson that deals with understanding and implementing the different parameters that are associated with different map projections. 
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with datum transformations and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson. 
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 5 about how coordinate systems impact measurement activities.
  5. Take the Lesson 5 quiz.

 

Lesson 6: Map Projections and Cartometric Activities
Date: Week 6
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Understand what each map projection properties preserves and does not preserve;
  • Understand that, for a given projection property, what kind of measurements can be taken from a map;
  • Be able to select an appropriate projection property that will allow specific measurements of distance and direction to be carried out on a map;
  • Review the process of registration and rectification and the role that map projections play in each.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 6.
  2. In a Word document, answer the questions that are posed within the lesson that deals with the measuring distances and directions on different map projections and their properties.
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with datum transformations and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson. 
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 6 about how coordinate systems impact measurement activities.
  5. Take the Lesson 6 quiz.

 

Lesson 7: Measuring Distances using a GCS, PCS, and a Custom PCS and Introducing the SPCS Grid
Date: Week 7
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Understand the benefits of using a grid system to carry out calculations;
  • Explain the importance as to why the SPCS grid system was developed;
  • Explain how the overall geographic extent of the landmass is an important consideration in selecting an appropriate map projection (Lambert conformal conic and transverse Mercator) for a SPCS.
  • Understand the principles behind how the different map projection parameters and values are chosen for a given SPCS;
  • Explain the significance of conformality, convergence angle, and scale factors as they relate to developing the SPCS;
  • Describe how states are divided up into different zones and when a state’s geographic extent dictates more than one zone;
  • Explain how the modernization from NAD27 to NAD83 impacts coordinate locations in SPCS zones.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 7.
  2. In a Word document, answer the questions that are posed within the lesson that deals measuring tasks carried out on a GCS, PCS, and a customized PCS according to the geographic area of interest. 
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with datum transformations and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson.  
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 7 about how coordinate systems impact measurement activities.
  5. Take the Lesson 7 quiz.

 

Lesson 8: The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Grid System
Date: Week 8
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Employ a working vocabulary of essential terminology appropriate to understanding the concepts of the universal transverse Mercator system (UTM) and universal polar stereographic (UPS);
  • Explain the importance as to why the UTM/UPS grid system was developed;
  • Learn how to correctly define a UTM/UPS grid system and assign appropriate parameters to the map projection;
  • Understand the principles behind how the different map projection parameters and values are chosen for a given UTM/UPS zone;
  • Explain the significance of conformality and the distribution of scale factors as they relate to developing the UTM/UPS;
  • Describe how the world is divided up into different UTM zones.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 8.
  2. In a Word document, answer the questions that are posed within the lesson that deals with the Universal Transverse Mercator. 
  3. Where specified, include 1) .jpg images of the different results obtained from your working with datum transformations and 2) any calculations that are required in the lesson. 
  4. Include a short report that summarizes what you learned from Lesson 8 about how coordinate systems impact measurement activities.
  5. Take the Lesson 8 quiz.

 

Lesson 9: Specifying Complete Coordinate Reference System Parameters
Date: Week 9
Objectives: At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:
  • Employ a working vocabulary of essential terminology appropriate to understanding the concept of a complete coordinate reference system specification;
  • Describe which datum is required for data sets across different scales (small, medium, and large);
  • Explain which parameters are needed for a complete datum definition for data sets across different scales;
  • Describe which map projection is required for data sets across different scales;
  • Explain which parameters are needed for a complete map projection definition for data sets across different scales;
  • Describe which grid system is required for data sets particularly at medium and large scales;
  • Explain which parameters are needed for a complete grid system definition for data sets at medium and large scales.
Activities and Assignments:
  1. Complete Project 9.
  2. In the Word document provided, answer the questions that:
    • Explain which datum is needed for each data set for small, medium, and large scales;
    • Describes the corresponding datum description;
    • Explain which map projection/grid system is needed for each data set for small, medium, and large scales.
    • Completely describe the map projection/grid system.
  3. Take the Lesson 9 quiz.

Course Policies

Citation and Reference Style

Academic Integrity and Citation Style Guide

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on our "Program Technical Requirements" page. 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).

Internet Connection

Access to a reliable broadband 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 wireless hotspot.

Mixed Content

This site is considered a secure website, 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

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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.


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.