ENV BIOL 3220 - Issues in Sustainable Environments III

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2015

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.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    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 Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Wayne Meyer

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    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
  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources
    Appropriate up-to-date resources will be provided by the guest speakers and up-loaded on MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This 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



    Workload

    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). 
    Sam Wells                                                                                                             
    Library info talk - Mary O'Connor 
    Week 2 Modelling potential futures for land use and ecosystem services.  
    Brett Bryan
    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. 
    Mark Siebentritt
    Follow up exercise on unit factor method Bartlett exponential function video.
    Week 4 Markets for ecosystems service provision: concepts, prices and limitations.
    Patrick O'Connor
    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.
    Bruce Munday
    Earth's energy balance calculation
    Week 6 NRM in South Australia – regional actions to improve sustainability.
    Susan Sweeney
    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.
    Wayne Meyer
    No tutorial session
    Week 9 Environmental toxicology.
    Mike McLaughlin
    No tutorial session
    Week 10                            Australian Energy - Now and the Future
    Stephen Lincoln
    Calculation of runoff volume from a catchment.
    Week  11                                                 Agriculture, landscapes, ecosystem services: tradeoffs and opportunities.
    Randy Stringer
    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?
    Ron Smernik
    No tutorial session
    Specific Course Requirements
    Attendance at presentations by guest speakers and student presentations is compulsory.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Hurdle Weighting Learning Outcome
    4 X short reports on selected sessions Formative & Summative

    No

    40% 1,2,3,4,5,6
    Two short "lift conversation" presentations Summative &
    Formative
    No 20% 7,8
    Popular science article Formative & Summative No  20% 8,9
    Unit factor conversion problems Formative No 20% 8,9
    Assessment Detail
    Short 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.


    Submission
    Late Submission

    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.

    Course Grading

    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.

  • Student Feedback

    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.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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