Introduction to Environmental Science

Course Description And Purpose

This physical science course introduces students to the study of climate, atmospheric composition, nutrient cycling, air and water pollution and water resources. Through discussions of these topics, students will better understand the complex issues surrounding the human ecological footprint, global climate change, degradation of water resources, reliance on fossil fuels for energy and industrial scale agricultural practices.

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives for this course are based on a definition of scientifically literacy in Environmental Science. This definition of scientific literacy is based on the National Science Education Standards (2011). After completing this course, students should:

  • Understand the principles of environmental science and their impact on everyday life
  • Understand and reflect critically on information included in and omitted from reports concerning environmental science
  • Take part confidently in discussions with others about issues involving environmental science
  • Make informed personal decisions about things that involve environmental science

Global Learning Outcomes And Assessments

Students will be assessed for the following Global Learning Outcomes with specific course outcomes listed below them.

Global Awareness – Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the scientific information and key concepts that underlie the functioning of natural systems with an emphasis on the interrelatedness of these systems with each other and human societies, as well as the negative impacts of environmental degradation on both.

  • An understanding of the scientific foundation and key concepts that describe the patterns and processes of Earth’s natural systems.
  • Awareness of the interrelationship of human activities and natural systems.
  • Ability to use scientific knowledge together with prior knowledge to engage in critical thinking about environmental issues arising from the interrelationship between human societies and natural systems.
  • Assessments for Global Awareness will include a computer based formative assessment activity and in-class exams.

Global Perspective – Students will be able to examine environmental issues within a multi-perspective framework that supports creative ideas to promote environmental sustainability.

  • Comprehension of the many interrelated technical, social and cultural contributions responsible for the complexity of environmental issues.
  • The ability to examine environmental issues from the perspectives of multiple stakeholders.
  • Develop an understanding of how environmental degradation may impact both natural systems and human societies in the future.

Global Engagement – Students will demonstrate a willingness to reflect on their own relationship to the environment and take responsibility to reduce their own ecological footprint as well as engaging in local, global and intercultural environmental problem solving.

  • Students will evaluate and reflect on their ecological footprint through its calculation using an on-line ecological footprint calculator.
  • Students will experience and appreciate the challenges facing human communities in their efforts to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources and services.
  • Assessment for Global Engagement will take the form of a reflection within a personal ecological footprint assignment. In addition, students will participate in a community service/co-curricular activity designed to reduce environmental degradation and promote the health of the community.
  • Both assignments will be evaluated using the appropriate rubrics that will be provided to students.

Important Information

Course Policies

Late Assignment Policy

All assignments submitted after the assignment due date are subject to the following deductions.

# of Days Late Deduction
1 – 2 10%
3 – 5 15%
7 – 10 20%
10 – 14 25%
> 14 Cannot be submitted

You must contact your instructor before attempting late assignments.

Online Assessment Issues Policy

If you encounter a problem when conducting an assessment (e.g., exam, quiz, discussion, etc.) and/or have problems uploading documents to the assignment dropbox, then you must contact FIU online for assistance. They will contact me with additional instructions at which point a determination will be made regarding the next course of action. There is no exception to this policy.

Proctored Exam Policy

This online section does not require an on-campus exam.

Technical Requirements & Skills

One of the greatest barriers to taking an online course is a lack of basic computer literacy.  By computer literacy we mean being able to manage and organize computer files efficiently, and learning to use your computer’s operating system and software quickly and easily. Keep in mind that this is not a computer literacy course; but students enrolled in online courses are expected to have moderate proficiency using a computer. Please go to the “What’s Required” webpage to find out more information on this subject.

This course utilizes the following tools:

      • Canvas
      • YouTube/Vimeo
      • Adobe Connect

Please visit our Technical Requirements webpage for additional information.

Accessibility And Accommodation

      • Please visit our ADA Compliance webpage for information about accessibility involving the tools used in this course.
      • Please visit Accessibility within Canvas webpage for more information.
      • For additional assistance please contact FIU’s Disability Resource Center.

If a student has a disability and needs assistance with class, please contact the Disability Resource Center (GC 190; 305-348-3532). It is the responsibility of each student to work with the Center and Instructor to make arrangements as needed for their accommodations.

Academic Misconduct Statement

Florida International University is a community dedicated to generating and imparting knowledge through excellent teaching and research, the rigorous and respectful exchange of ideas and community service. All students should respect the right of others to have an equitable opportunity to learn and honestly to demonstrate the quality of their learning. Therefore, all students are expected to adhere to a standard of academic conduct, which demonstrates respect for themselves, their fellow students, and the educational mission of the University. All students are deemed by the University to understand that if they are found responsible for academic misconduct, they will be subject to the Academic Misconduct procedures and sanctions, as outlined in the Student Handbook.

Academic Misconduct includes: Cheating – The unauthorized use of books, notes, aids, electronic sources; or assistance from another person with respect to examinations, course assignments, field service reports, class recitations; or the unauthorized possession of examination papers or course materials, whether originally authorized or not. Plagiarism – The use and appropriation of another’s work without any indication of the source and the representation of such work as the student’s own. Any student who fails to give credit for ideas, expressions or materials taken from another source, including internet sources, is responsible for plagiarism.

Learn more about the academic integrity policies and procedures as well as student resources that can help you prepare for a successful semester.

Course Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Expectations Of This Course

This is an online course, which means most (if not all) of the course work will be conducted online. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same for a traditional course. In fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills which can make these courses more demanding for some students.

Students are expected to:

  • Review the how to get started information located in the course content
  • Review and select your notification settings in Canvas
  • Introduce yourself to the class during the first week by posting a self introduction video in the appropriate blog
  • Take the Practice quiz to ensure that your computer is compatible with Canvas.
  • Interact online with instructor/s and peers
  • Review and follow the course calendar
  • Log in to the course at least four (4) times per week
  • Respond to discussion boards within: Initial post in three (3) days-Wednesday.  After the initial post, all students are required to comment on two (2) posts from other students.  This is referred to as the “Peer Review” stage of the assignment.  The Peer Review stage is due by the seventh (7th)-following Monday day of the assignment.
  • Respond to messages within no more than two (2) days
  • Submit assignments by the corresponding deadline

The instructor will:

  • Log in to the course at least five (5) times per week
  • Respond to messages within 2 days (48 hours)
  • Grade assignments within ten (10) days of the assignment deadline.

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Course Detail

Course Communication

Communication in this course will take place via Canvas.

It is recommended that students check their inbox routinely and adjust the Canvas notification settings accordingly to ensure up-to-date communication.

How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as a student?

Visit our Writing Resources webpage for more information on professional writing and technical communication skills.


Keep in mind that your discussion forum postings will likely be seen by other members of the course. Care should be taken when determining what to post.

Discussions and participation are required, just as if you were in a face to face class. Online does not mean silent or student guided. The course will be dependent on thoughtful participation during the discussion forums. Responses such as ‘I agree’ or ‘yea…what he said’ will result in zero points of credit. You can earn your grade and exemplary participation will earn higher scores. Read the rubric below for more information. Each discussion requires an individual (1) post as well as two (2) responses (e.g., Peer Review)

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