ENV BIOL 3220 - Issues in Sustainable Environments III
North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2015
General Course Information
Course Code ENV BIOL 3220 Course Issues in Sustainable Environments III Coordinating Unit School of Biological Sciences Term Semester 2 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 6 hours per week Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y Assumed Knowledge Completed 12 units at Level II Restrictions Available to B Sc (NR) students only Course Description This course is designed to teach students to conceptualise and analyse our natural and built environments as an interconnected system. This means that it is multi-disciplinary in content and will require students to understand the trade-offs between use and conservation of resources. The course will emphasise the biophysical, social and economic dimensions of current and emerging environmental and resource management issues. It comprises a series of seminars by invited speakers from research, government, community and business sectors. Students will be expected to improve their skills in critical thinking and issue analysis, present a logical and succinct opinion piece on an environmental issue and write a scientifically informed article suitable for popular media.
Course Coordinator: Professor Wayne Meyer
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this course, students will be able to: 1 understand the limits to the concepts of sustainability, resilience and resource capacity; 2 increase the information and reference base from a wide variety of sources about critical environmental issues; 3 increase student capability to collate, analyse and report using scientific methods; 4 understand the complexity of the interdependent environmental system to avoid simplistic assessments; 5 identify the biophysical, economic and social elements of resource use and conservation; 6 develop critical questioning and interaction skills with a range of presenters; 7 refine information acquisition, logic development and succinct reporting skills; 8 distil and practice presenting key concepts about sustaining environmental resources; 9 demonstrate the capability to communicate to different audiences.
University Graduate Attributes
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:
University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s) Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1,2,4,5,8 The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2,3 An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 6,7 Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 6 A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-8 A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 9 An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 2,8,9
Recommended ResourcesAppropriate up-to-date resources will be provided by the guest speakers and up-loaded on MyUni.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThis course is delivered by presentations and seminars by guest speakers and consists of:
- 2 hour seminar/discussion per week
- 3-4 hours tutuorial per week
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required for the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
Learning Activities Summary
Schedule Seminar topics
(subject to change)
Tutorial Each seminar session includes the 3 minute presentations with peer review. Week 1 Concepts of sutainability and resilience, evidence of climate change and issues of population pressures (number and demand).
Library info talk - Mary O'Connor Week 2 Modelling potential futures for land use and ecosystem services.
Unit Factor method - Each week develop a calculation that is relevant to the topic. E.g. Total amount of water used in the world and population, footprint of each person. Week 3 Approaches to climate change adaptation planning.
Follow up exercise on unit factor method Bartlett exponential function video. Week 4 Markets for ecosystems service provision: concepts, prices and limitations.
Calculation of vegetation water use and amounts over a 1 year period - seasonality Week 5 Landcare – no time for incremental steps, time for the quantum leap.
Earth's energy balance calculation Week 6 NRM in South Australia – regional actions to improve sustainability.
No tutorial session Week 7 Assessing, regulating and managing coastal environments for production, conservation and amenity.
Patricia von Baumgarten
No tutorial session Week 8 Water and irrigation in Australia - the place of irrigation in the Murray and Murrumbidgee.
No tutorial session Week 9 Environmental toxicology.
No tutorial session Week 10 Australian Energy - Now and the Future
Calculation of runoff volume from a catchment. Week 11 Agriculture, landscapes, ecosystem services: tradeoffs and opportunities.
Calculation of soil water content and amounts - concepts of Saturation, DUL, LL - use Hanks soil physics examples. Week 12 Soil carbon: an answer to carbon sequestration?
No tutorial session
Specific Course RequirementsAttendance at presentations by guest speakers and student presentations is compulsory.
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
Assessment Task Task Type Hurdle Weighting Learning Outcome 4 X short reports on selected sessions Formative & Summative
40% 1,2,3,4,5,6 Two short "lift conversation" presentations Summative &
No 20% 7,8 Popular science article Formative & Summative No 20% 8,9 Unit factor conversion problems Formative No 20% 8,9
Assessment DetailShort Reports (40% of total course grades)
Four short reports (4 x 10%) following presentations and discussions with guest presenters. Students will nominate beforehand which of the 12 presentations they will report on. After each session, 3 questions will be posted on MyUni. These should be answered based on the information provided during the presentations by the invited speakers and at least 2 references. Reports are due within two weeks of each presentation. Word limit is 1000 words.
Lift Conversation presentations (20% of total course grades)
Two “lift conversation” presentations (2 X 10%) on environmental, natural resource or ecological issues– each 3 minutes. The context is a 'lift conversation" with a person of influence who is interested in the environment. Peer feedback given immediately following. Written comments and assessment given within the week following presentation.
Popular Science Article (20% of total course grades)
A written article on a nominated sustainable environment topic that is aimed for publication in popular science media. Draft article is due in week 7 for feedback on suitability of topic. Final due end of week 10. 1200 words limit.
Unit Factor Conversion Problem (20% of total course grades)
Unit factor conversion exercises will consist of 2 problems each week starting in week 2 and finishing in week 11. The answers need to be submitted electronically within one week.
If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme) Grade Mark Description FNS Fail No Submission F 1-49 Fail P 50-64 Pass C 65-74 Credit D 75-84 Distinction HD 85-100 High Distinction CN Continuing NFE No Formal Examination RP Result Pending
Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.
Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.
Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.
The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.
SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.
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