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SUS 7200C Sustainable Aquatic, Terrestrial, and Atmospheric Systems

Sustainability in the Urban Environment
1

SUS 7200C Sustainable Aquatic, Terrestrial, and Atmospheric Systems

Fall 2017. Subject to refinement/updating.


Instructor: Professor Kyle McDonald
Schedule: Thursday 5:20 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Location: NAC 5/110
3 credits 3 hours/week

Instructor

Professor Kyle McDonald
kmcdonald2@ccny.cuny.edu
212-650-8218
Office hours by appointment: Thursday 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Marshak 834.

When emailing, Professor McDonald requests that students include the course title “SUS-7200C” in the subject line with student's contact information, including their full name.

Description

Growing concern about human impact on all of Earth’s systems has led to a rash of initiatives to reduce our global ecological footprint and to greater interest in living and designing sustainably.  An understanding of the ecological interactions that underlie our Earth systems is critical for developing the sustainable solutions that we seek. This course will place environmental issues in an ecological framework.

Note: Students registered for cross-listed course EAS-B4800 or EAS-44800 (4 credit hours) will have an additional lab section on Wednesday evenings (format is open for discussion).

Objectives

  • Be familiar with the global environmental picture
  • Understand ecosystems, their structure, how they function, and challenges to their sustainability
  • Understand the basics of the cycling of carbon and water in the Earth system and concerns and consequences of associated human influence
  • Appreciate the intrinsic and extrinsic values of ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Understand energy usage and production including renewable resources
  • Understand atmospheric processes and involvement in ecosystem interactions
  • Comprehend the dimensions of the sustainability challenge in terms of economics, resources, the public and public policy and urban sprawl.

Course Requirements

Participation and attendance: Because of the participatory nature of the class, timely attendance is mandatory. You are allowed one absence or three late arrivals with no questions asked. Beyond that, your semester grade may be lowered.

Blackboard: All students must use CUNY electronic blackboard. It is assumed that you will check blackboard for all assignments and announcements. Blackboard includes a feature that automatically sends announcements via email (CCNY email). Be sure you check the appropriate email CUNY no longer permits auto-forwarding of email. On-line classes, via Blackboard, may be assigned for some weeks. There will also be some guest lecturers.

Homework: Weekly reading of assignments. Timely completion of all required work

In Class Etiquette: Silence cellular phones during class. Laptops may be used for note taking. Please, no consumption of food during class.

Required Reading

Reading:  Environmental Science: A Global Concern (12th edition) by William and Mary Cunningham (2011) is the required text for this class.

Note: There is a 13th edition of the text available as well (published 2014). Students may use that version.

Additional readings will be distributed throughout the course. Check Blackboard for reading assignments.

Grading

  1. Participation and attendance- 15%
  2. Assignments 1-3: 45%
    1. Reading and analysis of writings of Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, and Aldo Leopold (10%)
    2. Newspaper Article Summary and Analysis. (15%)
    3. Analysis of large datasets (20%)
  3. Final Project– 30%
    1. Complete & timely submission of summary and literature cited (2% of final grade)
    2. Complete & timely submission of outline (3% of final grade)
  4. Final presentation / discussion (10%)

Note: Those registered in EAS-B4800 and EAS-44800, these are four credit hour courses. The above schedule represents 75% of your grade. Your grade in the lab section will constitute 25% of your grade.

Course Outline

Date (subject to revision)

Topic

Assignments due

Readings will be drawn from the text and supplementary material

8/25

Science and Sustainability

 

Assignment I: Readings for Analysis

 

 

 

Cunningham & Cunningham

 

Chapters 1 and 2:

Understanding Our Environment

Principles of Science and Systems

 

Gifford Pinchot: “The Conservation of Natural Resources”

 

John Muir: “Our National Parks”

 

Aldo Leopold: “The Land Ethic” in A Sand County Almanac

 

David Owen: “Green Manhattan” in The NewYorker

 

9/1

Earth Systems

Cunningham & Cunningham

Chapter 4, and Case Study: Evolution, Biological

Communities, & Species Interactions

 

9/8

Ecosystems and Biomes

 

Assignment I: Analysis of Readings

(Note due dates for contributions to discussion board given in the assignment)

 

Cunningham & Cunningham

(same as prior week)

Chapter 4, and Case Study: Evolution, Biological

Communities, & Species Interactions

Chapter 5: Biomes

 

9/15

Ecosystems and Biodiversity

 

Assignment II: Newspaper

article summary and analysis

 

 

Chapter 5: Biomes

Chapter 11: Biodiversity: Preserving species

 

9/22

Diplomatic Exercise

Ambassador Laura Garber

 

 

9/29

Biodiversity

 

 

Assign Data Set Analysis

Project: Part I

 

 

Assignment II: Article summary and analysis

 

Cunningham & Cunningham

Chapter 17: Water Use and Management

Chapter 18: Water Pollution

Chapter 22: Urbanization & Sustainable Cities

10/6

No Class (Monday Schedule)

 

 

 

10/13

Field Trip – Bronx River Restoration Project

 

 

Cunningham & Cunningham

Chapter 6: Population Biology

Chapter 7: Human Population

Chapter 9 section 2: Food and Hunger: Key Food

Sources (pg. 183-1187)

Chapter 10: Farming: Conventional and

Sustainable Practices

 

10/20

Remote Sensing as a Monitoring Tool

 

Dataset Analysis Class (Computer Lab)

 

Assign Data Set Analysis

Project: Part II

 

Assign Final Project

 

 

Assignment III: Analysis of Large Datasets - Part I

 

.

 

10/27

Cycling of Water, Carbon and Energy: Carbon and Climate

 

Cunningham and Cunningham:

Chapter 15, Sections, 4, 5, & 6: Air Weather and

Climate

 

Final Project:

Provide partner groups, topics

 

11/03

Presentation of Dataset Analysis Projects

 

Assignment III: Analysis of Large Datasets - Part II

 

 

11/10

Cycling of Water, Carbon and Energy: Climate and the Cryosphere

 

 

Cunningham and Cunningham:

Chapter 15, Sections, 4, 5, & 6: Air Weather and

Climate

 

Final Project:

Summary with literature cited.

Any questions or concerns

 

11/17

Our Changing Planet: Evidence of our Tenure

Potential Guest Lecture

Final Project:

Short update to class and written

Bulleted outline of each section

Environmental Issue, Ecological Concept(s),

Daily Life, Sustainable Practice with literature

cited

 

 

 

 

11/24

No Class – Thanksgiving

 

 

12/1

Additional topics of interest

 

TBD (IPCC Report?)

 

Final Project (Papers) Due

 

12/8

Final Projects – Proposal Panel

 

 

 

12/14-21

 

Final Exams